Photo: NAYORA/Melek Mirzoeva Salimova. Highlights from the conference on Youth for the Sustainable Development Goals. 18 May 2019. Baku, Azerbaijan

As prepared for delivery

Event: Conference on “Youth Organizations for Sustainable Development Goals”

Date and venue:  18 May 2019, ADA University

Speech by Mr. Alessandro Fracassetti – UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Azerbaijan

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SALAM, GENCLER! Greetings, young folks!

Key Statements

It is my pleasure to join you today at the Youth Organizations for SDGs conference – an opportuninty to zoom in on how youth can contribute to the sustainable development of the country. Let me begin by thanking all co-conveners and partners of this event, in particular the Youth Foundation of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ministry of Sport and Youth, Ministry of Economy, Azerbaijan Student Youth Organizations’ Union, and of course the host venue of today’s event –the ADA University.

The results of the survey we are presenting today shows that the primary source of information is actually University. So this is the right place today to tackle the question of the potential of youth in achieving the 2030 Agenda.

Today, around the world, there are 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10-24—they are the largest generation of youth in history. Only in Azerbaijan, young people between the age of 14-29, make up close to one third of the population. Half of them live in rural areas. We owe them an open mind and a platform to perform, to build, to co-create.

The 2030 Agenda specifically recognizes youth as “critical agents of change”.  To ensure the success of the 2030 Agenda, we need young people on board - all of you, young activists, creative thinkers, change-makers, innovators, communicators and community leaders.  

Young women and men are an important and influential demographic. Your generation is also far better connected than previous ones. Young innovators like you here today have been instrumental in overcoming divisions of geography, race and culture by combining a keen social consciousness with art, technology, science and new ways of communicating to promote sustainable development. 

Around the globe, in our work on youth inclusion, employment and empowerment we see how youth now use digital platforms not only for networking but also for employment, skill development  and empowerment.

Across Africa, UNDP is now scaling up its “YouthConnekt Initiative”, which uses ICT tools to connect young people to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities – supporting skills development and inclusion in local and national dialogues. Tajikistan, jointly with UNV, Aga Khan Foundation, and other partners and local youth NGOs, UNDP is supporting the initiative called “Start-Up Chaikhona”, to provide series of business trainings for young people. In Kyrgyzstan, the Programme of comprehensive area development in Naryn region supported young people become active in the area of small entrepreneurship. UNDP programme in Serbia contributed to enhancing local self-governments capacities to reduce inter-ethnic tensions and conflict risk social inclusion of young people in South Serbia).

Recommendations:

The findings of this consultations including this online survey is relevant in many ways. It shows much more needs to be done to raise awareness about the SDGs as almost half of the youth polled had not heard of them.

It shows optimism with a Majority (54%) of the respondents believing that their social, economic and environmental problems can be solved by 2030 if the SDGs are implemented well.  

It provides specific receommendations for example, for the private sector, being the largest employer of youth, to build capacities of the employed labour force and to explore the opportunities for public-private partnerships for promoting youth employment which will ultimately help in advancing progress to the inclusive labour market.

Youth-led organizations need to be encouraged and empowered to participate in translating the 2030 Agenda into local, national and regional policy. They play a significant role in the implementation, monitoring and review of the Agenda as well as in holding governments accountable;

Young people need to be trained for skills that match labour market demands in order to reduce distinct shortages of decent work opportunities

Dear youth, colleagues, leadies and gentlemen,

UNDP and UN Volunteers (UNV) cooperate in creation of opportunities for youth in volunteering. Facilitating volunteerism and building volunteer infrastructure is one of the ways in which UNDP and UNV to support youth inclusiveness and sustainable development.

To capitalise on the potential of youth, the United Nations in Azerbaijan facilitated a number of platforms and policy measures to better integrate youth in the advocacy and implementation of SDGs. From National Model United Nations Conferences to providing capacity building programs, internships, full time jobs, volunteering opportunities. Last year, together with the Ministry of Sports and Youth, UNDP launched the first cohort of 17 SDGs youth ambassadors for the first time in Azerbaijan. Our colleagues from UNICEF have led UN efforts to support the Youth Advisory Council and a number of youth houses across the country.

To better integrate youth in all stages of National SDGs strategy implementation, UNDP in close collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population supports a project “Promoting Innovation and Employment in Azerbaijan” (also referred to as “Syslab Project”) aiming to integrate rural youth in local labour markets by boosting their employability, professional skills and entrepreneurial mindset.

Together with “ASAN Volunteers”, the largest volunteer organization of Azerbaijan, UNDP works on promoting volunteerism among young people and supporting them to expand their knowledge and participation in social and community-based activities.

The first Youth Summer School on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was launched in 2018 in Azerbaijan.  The Summer School was the first highlight of our new partnership with the Ministry of Sport and Youth to support an active youth engagement in global policy debates and in particular, the 2030 Agenda. Up to date, Azerbaijan saw three national Model UN Conferences, a MUN Conference in Nakhchivan, two Model UN Summer Schools in Ismayilli and Dashkesan, while UNDP and the Ministry of Youth and Sports also supported an impressive array of university-level MUN conferences led by enthusiastic youth groups at various MUN Clubs.

For UNDP, supporting innovation is critical to achieving the SDGs. We have partnered with the Ministry of Economy in launching the National Innovation Challenge to stir social entrepreneurs and innovators to find solutions for some of the pressing challenges of sustainable development in the country.

Azerbaijan was also selected as one of 60 country offices of UNDP worldwide and among 6 country offices of the Europe and Central Asia region to become the largest and fastest learning network of Accelerator Labs around the globe.

CHOKH SAG OLUN! Thank you!

 

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