The UN envoy to Sri Lanka has urged youth in the country to be the drivers of progress of the global agenda to build more inclusive and vibrant societies, to ultimately support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The International Youth Day, which falls annually on the 12th August 2015, was marked by an event conducted by the United Nations (UN) in Sri Lanka in collaboration with the State Ministry of Youth Affairs and the National Youth Services Council with a Panel Discussion held at the Ministry premises in Colombo, the UN office in Colombo said in a statement today.
The youth-led Panel Discussion, held under the global theme ‘Youth Civic Engagement’, focused on Youth and Gender, Youth Labour Rights, Youth Volunteerism, Youth and Political Participation and Reintegration of Vulnerable Youth.
Speaking at the event, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, Subinay Nandy urged the young people to be the drivers of progress of the global agenda to build more inclusive and vibrant societies, to ultimately support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development, resilience and wellbeing [and] today, as we celebrate International Youth Day, we have to ensure that it is young people who will lead this discussion. We want to hear from you, your views, and your solutions,” Nandy stated.
He further noted that “Young people must be at the centre of national development plans and they need to be actively engaged in the formulation of policies and programmes.”
The event also was an opportunity for the young to be at the centre of the discourse on young people as the entire event was conducted and hosted by young people, including the panellists who were young professionals and the moderators who were the newly appointed Sri Lankan National Youth Delegates to the United Nations, Ms. Naushalya Rajapaksha and Thilina Kalhara Panduwawala, who will be representing Sri Lanka at the upcoming UN General Assembly.
While acknowledging the diversity of the youth participants in the audience, the Secretary of the State Ministry of Youth Affairs Ms. Nilanthi Sugathadhasa, stated “Our youth are already engaged in civic activities on a voluntary basis at different levels, however more can be done by increasing awareness on the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to the individual and society. We intend to continue this dialogue with young people at regional and district levels”.
The celebration of this year’s Youth Day comes at a critical juncture as the world prepares to usher in the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals at the expiration of the Millennium Development Gaols. It is also a key milestone year for the UN in Sri Lanka as it not only celebrates the 70 years of existence of the UN but also reflects on the 60 year journey since Sri Lanka became a member state.
Issuing a statement to mark the International Youth Day, UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon noted “In this landmark year, as leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever. At this critical moment in history, I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world. “ (Colombo Gazette)