Thursday, May 14, 2009

UN CSD 17: From the Eyes of African Youth representatives

It is very instructive that Africa is one of the themes of the 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Africa is indeed faced with the worst global challenges to sustainable development. She has a whole lot of resources, but the question is: how are the youths from Africa involved in the process of tackling the problems of the continent? It is very important that we contribute at the UN CSD. Our marginalization in decision-making poses a threat to good governance and development, especially as most of Africa’s development challenges impact on youths.

Young people, who constitute the majority of the Africa's population, are an important force and partner in the field of global Interdependence. It follows, therefore, that youths are social actors who should be recognized as having a role to play in development and who are capable of carrying out projects and programmes in the field of sustainable development.

It is a fact that no African Government has a youth on their official delegation or even a youth representative at the youth Caucus except those funded by the German and Swedish governments or NGOs. Why do we not involve the young people from Africa? An environment where elders believed that they have the monopoly of knowledge cannot lead into a sustainable future!

“Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to contribute actively to Sustainable development.” (Earth Charter 2000)
African Youths have a lot to contribute in decision-making processes but they are not supported by the adults except when making statements at conferences such as the CSD.

Barriers relating to demography – age restrictions, gender barriers, cultural factors and sometimes “extreme politics” exclude youth from decision-making. African Youth have limited time to develop skills and knowledge for decision-making compared to their peers from other regions. Therefore African youths should be given greater opportunities to participate in these decision-making because our opinion matters a great deal to our country and the world at large.

At the opening session of this meeting, the Youth Statement was delivered by Esther Agbarakwe, a youth representative from Nigeria whose participation is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Majority of Africa Women delegates have shown support to the entire youth representative from Africa, an indication of the strong bond between African mothers and their children. So these should be stepping stones the government and other stake holders should follow.

Sustainable development cannot be achieved in Africa without the establishment of an effective intergeneration partnership for sustainability among the young people and the other generation. If Africa has challenges today, these are mere preludes to the looming threats of tomorrow. The youth have deep stakes in the future and we are eager to contribute our quota. The future belongs to us. The youths are full of ideas and we are waiting to share them. Give us the space!

Esther Agbarakwe

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Youth at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development 17th Session May 4th -15th 2009

Youth Caucus Opening Statement

UN Commission on Sustainable Development 17th Session

New York, 4th May 2009

Esther Agbarakwe.

Thank you very much Madame Chair.

“Swords into ploughshares, words into action”. My neighbors in Nigeria and other parts of the world have to use those ploughshares everyday to feed their children. Some are not aware of the UN's discussions, but their futures depend on the decisions made here at the CSD and, more importantly, your commitment to implementing them nationally.

We have a common responsibility to leave a better legacy for our children.

All stakeholders, especially youth, need to be integrally involved in the process of information gathering, decision making, implementation and review. While youth and other major groups are ready in service, only you – the country representatives – can make these decisions happen.

Through collaboration, we can empower local communities to engage successfully in sustainable development initiatives, using innovative solutions to deal with global challenges.

We do care about what you say here, but our lives depend on how you implement these policies at home. So practice what you preach.

The urgency is immense for taking action now.

We can make the difference that is needed to create a more just, equitable and sustainable world.

Thank you.

UN Commission on Sustianable Development CSD 17th Session, UN HQ New York

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established by the UN General Assembly in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit.

The Commission is responsible for reviewing progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; as well as providing policy guidance to follow up the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) at the local, national, regional and international levels. The JPOI reaffirmed that the CSD is the high-level forum for sustainable development within the United Nations system.

The CSD has opened its sessions to broad participation from both governmental and non-governmental actors, and it supports a number of innovative activities, such as the Partnerships Fair, the Learning Centre and a series of panels, roundtables and side events. The High-level segment features dialogue among Ministers, and Ministers also hold a special dialogue session with Major Groups.