By Abdelghani Berdi
By Abdelghani Berdi
Rabat – The United Nations Economic and Social Council hosted its 6th Annual Youth Forum, January 30 and 31 for two days of engagement on global youth issues. Moroccan and African youth are expected to play a priority role in the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
Hundreds of youth delegates and leaders arrived at UN Headquarters in New York City to engage with each other and with policy-makers and high-level officials on the role of youth in global issues. The forum covered many relevant topics such as the worldwide eradication of poverty and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Four young officials represented Morocco at the event. They were drawn from the National Human Rights Council, the Ministry in Charge of Relations with Parliament and Civil Society and the Ministry of General Affairs and Governance. The Moroccan participants were thrilled at the opportunity to learn about the experiences of other youth delegates. They were excited to showcase Moroccan issues and solutions and network to help with the implementation of SDGs.
Following a session regarding African priorities, Youth for Sustainable Africa was launched by Moroccans and their fellow Africans. The initiative is a “Facebook group for sharing practices and experiences. It also teams up to advocate for and implement the 2030 Agenda and also African Aspirations, the African Union’s 2063 Agenda.”
The time for action is now
With an unprecedented 1.8 billion of the world’s population under the age of 24, it is widely accepted that today’s youth has the potential to transform economies and societies, for better or worse, depending on the decisions policy makers adopt.
According to a report issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)”Never before have there been so many young people. Never again is there likely to be such potential for economic and social progress. How we meet the needs and aspirations of young people will define our common future.”
Speakers opening the forum in New York, however, stressed that this population “had been disproportionately affected by rising inequality brought about by rapid technological innovation… and continued to face unemployment, discrimination and exploitation.”
All participants agreed that youth is a top priority for the world, calling on decision-makers to empower young people. They also called for effectively consulting with them, investing in youth and engaging them in implementing and monitoring the SDGs, which “can never be achieved without their support.”
With 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 (the youngest population in the world), youth is a top priority for Africa as well.
Vulnerabilities and high unemployment rates on the continent, have rendered youth in Africa a “ticking time bomb” vs. an opportunity. The session focusing on Africa recommended an African youth fund to address unemployment and the associated issues, which could lead to insecurity on the continent.
Moroccan Youth: The Future
Morocco is no exception to this worry. More than 34% of the Moroccan population is between the age of 15 and 34…. having the same potential and facing similar risks and challenges. To shed light on the potential, opportunities and youth challenges in Morocco, the National Human Rights Council will launch a ten-day campaign on youth titled “Moroccan Youth: The Future.” It will take place during the Casablanca international book fair, starting February 10.
The campaign will tackle all issues related to the current state of Moroccan youth including unemployment, vulnerabilities, social entrepreneurship, and violence. Other topics included will be youth empowerment and political participation, new technologies, creativity and equality.
Held annually by ECOSOC since 2012, the 2017 edition of the Youth Forum welcomed youth into discussions on Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. It also offered a unique opportunity for youth to voice their opinions, share ideas and brainstorm about what they can do to achieve the goals. The recommendations of the Forum will be presented at the meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council in July 2017.
Ahmad Alhendawi, outgoing UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, stated with enthusiasm “you are not too old, you are not too experienced to learn from a young person…”