Ghulam Isaczai’s opening remarks at AIESEC’s Youth Speak Forum

 

Distinguished delegates, Young leaders, Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to speak to you at this Youth Speak Forum which aims to collect the common voice of the Azerbaijani young people and educate them about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

I express my appreciation for AIESEC Azerbaijan for playing an active role in developing and engaging young people about social issues both within the country and worldwide.

AIESEC has sent many young people onto the global stage through ‘Global Volunteer (volunteering)’ and ‘Global Talent (Internship)’ programmes and also brought international young leadership from 20 different countries through its global projects such as 5 Global Village cultural festivals and nation-wide conferences.

I would like to applaud all of you for a very successful year since its foundation in 2007.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here, to talk about a subject that I believe, is at the heart of development: the role of youth in shaping the future under the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Today’s generation of young people is the largest the world has ever known (1.8 billion). One in every three people alive today is under the age of thirty.
In Azerbaijan, approximately 27% of the total population that is 2.6 million people falls into the category of youth.

The growing number and size of the youth population have brought about a demographic fact that cannot be ignored.

Many of you may be preparing to look for a job but you will not be alone. Over the next decade, the world will need 600 million new jobs for all the new workers.

The challenge of creating enough jobs and opportunities for the large global youth population entering the labour market is one of the major challenges of our time.
According to the Voluntary National Review of Azerbaijan, youth unemployment rate is 13,4% that matches the global average of (13.7% ).

This is a development challenge, which requires major development investments and collective solutions by all.

In this regard, your initiative “Youth Speak” is an appropriate event to engage the talent and commitment of young people to discuss these issues and find solutions for them.

More than ever before, there is a global understanding that long-term social, economic, and environmental development would be impossible without engaging young people and placing them at the centre of our global efforts; particularly in order to make us move from the why to the how question.

Dear Young Leaders,

As you are aware, it has been over two years that the United Nations Member States – including Azerbaijan – agreed on an ambitious agenda to end poverty, reduce inequality and protect our planet by 2030.

We believe the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers a unique opportunity for us to engage youth to achieve these goals.

The new agenda is transformative, universal and inclusive and it requires multiplicity of actors including young people to achieve it and have a balanced world in terms of our economic, social and environmental priorities.

The United Nations has long recognized that the imagination, ideals, and energies of young people are vital for the continuing development of the societies.

Many global initiatives have been undertaken by the United Nations to address the issues concerning youth since the World Program of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (WPAY) was adopted in 1995.

Among those, let me highlight one of the great initiative, which is supported by AIESEC. As a partner for the United Nations, AIESEC has mobilized young people to contribute towards the achievement of the SDGs through the Youth 4 Global Goals (Youth4GG) initiative.

AIESEC’s Outgoing Preparation Seminar and Incoming Global Volunteer projects have increased the awareness of the SDGs, and today I see how this Youth Speak Forum calls upon young people to take action moving beyond the traditional advocacy role that young people play.Let me give examples of our initiatives: Two weeks ago, UNICEF Azerbaijan announced its first National UN Youth Volunteer positions in Azerbaijan.

This ‘Youth-specific UN volunteer programme’ was initiated by Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi the form United Nations Secretary-General’s first Envoy on Youth in 2013.

At the United Nations in Azerbaijan, we are also engaging young people representing different social backgrounds and interests through the UN Youth Advisory Council.

UYAC is partnering with us to bring the voices of Azerbaijani young people to the United Nations Country Team and inform our policies and activities towards enhancing, empowering and strengthening the position of young people under 2030 Agenda.

For young people in Azerbaijan, sustainable development agenda is a roadmap for changing the way they live, the way they value each other, the way they learn and consume and grow.

In Azerbaijan, we are encouraged by the Government’s commitment to achieving SDGs. The establishment of the National Coordination Council on Sustainable Development (NCCSD), composed of representatives of all relevant governmental bodies, is a reflection of a strong political commitment by the Government in this process.

Azerbaijan is one of the most advanced when it comes to the investments into the youth sector. In 2002, the country has established a legislative basis in this direction by adopting the Law on Youth Policy, in 2009 Law on Volunteerism (the first among CIS country), and in 2015 the Strategy on Development of Azerbaijani Youth in 2015-2025 was adopted.

However, these youth policy is rarely informed by the opinions of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable adolescents and youth – especially those living in IDP settlement, rural area, girls and youth with disabilities. Moreover, meaningful youth participation is hindered by traditional attitudes that do not yet fully embrace the full expression and consideration of youth opinions with lack capacity to make appropriate decisions on issues that affect their lives .

The United Nations in Azerbaijan stands ready to provide support to the State Youth Development Programme (2016-2025) through UN’s programmes and projects under the UN-Azerbaijan Partnership Framework (UNAPF).

The United Nations Agencies in Azerbaijan, in collaboration with the Government and other partners, have been continuing to engage with youth issue through various mechanisms to forge solutions by:

• Researching on issues related to youth employment/ facilitating the establishment of a working platform to engage multinationals companies with a focus on the creation of decent jobs for youth/ training unemployed youth in basic professional skills (ILO )

  • Strengthening legal and policy frameworks to deliver integrated sexual and reproductive health services, with focus on adolescents, youth and vulnerable groups (UNFPA )
  • Holding seminars to raise awareness at secondary schools and higher education institutions to increase understanding and knowledge of youth on risks of irregular migration and dangers of trafficking (IOM )
  • Upgrading of the Youth Law, youth participation in monitoring of the State Youth Programme, and support to the UN Youth Advisory Council (UNICEF )
  • Institutionalizing Model UN (MUN) movement in Azerbaijan to create new platform to support active youth engagement in global policy debates (UNDP )
  • And, calling on Azerbaijani young people to pursue volunteering opportunities to make a positive contribution to international and national development through volunteering (UNV)

As you are aware, although there is no specific SDG on youth, all these programmes and projects we are delivering, are specifically focused on youth and as every single SDG requires youth action to succeed.
No sector or organization can tackle the challenges we face alone. Given the magnitude of the required transformation of economies and societies for the sustainable future, governments and the United Nations cannot do it alone.

It needs all of you.

Dear Young leaders,

I am here because, like you, we share the belief that Azerbaijan’s future is in the hands of its youth. Sustainable Development Goals are our responsibility, and Azerbaijan deserves to achieve the SDGs just like other countries deserve to do so; this Youth Speak Forum should be a catalyst for that belief – urging young people around to take actions on the Global Goals for sustainable future.

You are the SDG generation, and you should be critical in implementing and reviewing the Agenda. It doesn’t matter how old you are; you can do something every day to make the world a better place.

Imagine how much the world can be changed for next 13 years. Act now, speak up and believe in your power to change our world.

Thank you. Çox sağ olun!

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