On behalf of the UN System in Azerbaijan, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you for coming here to participate in this very important discussion about the role of youth in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
I would like to sincerely thank Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev, and management of ADA University for graciously hosting today’s event. Last year on this Day, ADA University also made its facilities available to us to mark the 70th Anniversary of the UN. We are very proud of our partnership with ADA and find this venue as a perfect setting for today’s panel discussion on youth and the SDGs because ADA is committed to educating and preparing young people to become leaders of tomorrow and play their part in making this world a better place.
I would also like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Sports and Youth, with which we have had long lasting partnership and the members of Parliament for being with us today and sharing their knowledge, expertise and experiences with us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, as we mark the 71st Anniversary of the UN, we are witnessing the largest youth population ever in the world, which is creating an unprecedented potential for social and economic progress. There are about 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 — many of them concentrated in developing countries. In fact, in the world’s 48 least developed countries, children or adolescents make up a majority of the population.
Yet, too many of these young people see their potential hindered by extreme poverty, discrimination or lack of information. But with proper investment in their education and opportunities, these young people’s ideas, ideals and innovations could transform the future.
We believe that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by 193 world leaders at the UN Summit in 2015 in NY, offers a unique opportunity for us to engage youth and place them at the center of our global efforts to achieve these goals.
The new agenda is transformative; it is universal and it is inclusive. It brings together social, economic, and environmental development highly relevant for all countries around the world. The new agenda, in a way, makes every country a developing one.
Young people from across the world also actively participated and brought youth voices in the consultation process and development of the SDGs.
This is an important milestone in youth participation in the global policy framework by offering their energy, commitment, and partnership, which need to be sustained as we are moving into the next step of the implementation of the SDGs.
Although there is no specific Sustainable Development Goal on youth, many of the 169 targets and 230 indicators for the SDGs have brought a strong youth-specific focus.
Moreover, young people and youth-led organizations can play a critical role in the implementation and achievement of these goals by:
- Creating awareness and communicating the global goals to their peers and wider society.
- By engaging people at the grassroots level as young people are active drivers of change in their local communities.
- By fostering the innovative use of social media and communication tools to call for action on specific target, indicator or policy action.
- By creating space for youth engagement to translate the agenda into local, national and regional policy,
- By participating in SDGs implementation, in monitoring and review, and in holding governments accountable.
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 by H.E. the President is a reflection of a strong political commitment by the Government in this process.
We welcome the Government’s decision and stand ready to provide support for nationalization of the goals, their integration into national policies and strategies, fostering cross-sectoral approaches and monitoring and reporting of the goals.
On youth issues, Azerbaijan has also demonstrated strong commitment to promoting youth participation and empowerment. This year is special for national/global youth engagement in Azerbaijan and the region.
The European Youth Forum was opened in Ganja, which was designated as the European Youth Capital for 2016.
The country hosted the 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in April, which featured a dedicated session on youth and their role in building inclusive societies.
In 2014, Azerbaijan hosted the First Global Forum on Youth Policies, which was co-convened by the Office of the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, UNDP, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe. The Forum adopted The Baku Commitment to Youth Policies, which are indispensable to meaningful and inclusive youth policy development and implementation.
The United Nations System in Azerbaijan stands ready to provide support to the State Youth Development Programme (2016-2025) through its newly signed UN-Azerbaijan Partnership Framework (UNAPF) 2016-2020.
The United Nations Agencies, in collaboration with the Government, development partners, the private sector, Academia and civil society, will continue to engage with youth through various mechanisms including today’s discussion, model UN, and participation in various programme activities. Next year, the UN Country Team will launch a UN Joint project on youth in support of the SDGs.
Engaging with young people in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is important as youth are leaders of today who will inherit the benefits of the SDGs tomorrow.
We hope that today’s deliberations will help identify essential actions required to further promote the role of young people in creating more effective national policies and foster youth inclusion in the implementation and tracking of the progress towards the SDGs in Azerbaijan.
The global goals strive to create a world fit for youth. Every SDG requires youth action for success. With over 1.8 billion youth, they are a demographic that cannot be ignored. Without youth, the SDGs cannot succeed!
Wishing you a fruitful discussion! Çox sağ olun!