, NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 19 – More than 200 youth leaders from across the world are pursuing an ambitious programme of ensuring a proper youth engagement within the United Nations system.
Dubbed Youth 21, the programme is aimed at ensuring that young people have a say in the UN to be able to voice challenges facing them globally.
One of the participants John Anugraha from India, who sits in the UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board, told Capital News they are determined to ensure the youth are fully represented in the UN.
“Youth 21 will create a platform for a special advisor of youth to directly report to the Secretary General of the United Nations and with an office and a secretariat that will have regional branches where young people will be empowering themselves,” Anugraha who is also the Executive Director, Global Citizens for Sustainable Development said.
The youth leaders have been meeting in Nairobi since last week, mapping out strategies of putting up this new initiative.
“We have been meeting to build architecture for youth engagement in the UN system because we want to ensure the youth are fully represented across the globe,” he added.
Anugraha said the Special Advisor on youth affairs will be a young person “preferably below the age of 35. We are not looking for an old person because he will be representing the youth.”
The youth representatives meeting in Nairobi were particularly infuriated by the fact that the youth are often used and misused to vote for leaders who never recognize them when they ascend to power.
“When you look around, the youth constitute the largest population across the world, yet they are often ignored, they are only remembered by leaders when they want votes,” Anugraha said.
There are currently 1.2 billion youths in the world, the largest number of youth ever to have existed-according to UN estimates.
Majority of these youth live in developing countries where most face daunting challenges, living in poor economic, social and environmental conditions with limited access to education, training and employment.
Musa Ansumana Soko of Sierra Leone who also sits in the UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board said the Youth 21 initiative will help push for youth employment in member states among other benefits.
“We want to ensure that young people have got a safer place within the UN system. Young people are drawn from various backgrounds within their various countries, all these people are being represented within the UN system, so those voices which are not heard at that grass root level are kind of reflected by their different representatives,” Soko who is also the Executive Director of Youth Partnership for Peace and Development said.