Youth network gives new voice to development aspirations in Asia and the Pacific

Jun 17, 2016

Using the social-media hashtags #WeAre2030 and #700milStrong, the attendees underscored time and again the need for youth to have a seat at the policy table in a region where young people now number nearly 700 million.

UNDP, UNV partner with youth network to nurture social innovation, enterprise and peacebuilding efforts among young people  

June 17, 2016 | BANGKOK

Youth community leaders from over 10 countries in Asia and the Pacific announced, on Friday, a new network that will empower young people in the region to effectively engage with the Sustainable Development Goals, in partnership with UNDP and United Nations Volunteers.    

Titled 2030YouthForce, the network will seek to nurture social innovation, enterprise and peacebuilding efforts among young people, drawing from the experiences of its own members – who have each done groundbreaking work in their communities.

The group of young entrepreneurs, human rights defenders, peace-builders, volunteers and innovators pledged to empower and support young people in their own communities. The network will advocate for a stronger role for young people in formulating national policies, and will inform UNDP and UNV programmes on youth empowerment.      

The announcement came at the end of a three-day workshop in the Thai capital, which saw a diversity of experiences and conversations on the issues that affect young people in the region.

“Empowered youth are the engines of the progress we seek,” said Caitlin Wiesen, Chief of Regional Policy and Programme Support for Asia and the Pacific at UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Hub.  

“The energy, enthusiasm, and innovation which comes from young people offers a huge demographic dividend to countries and to our world as a whole. We must invest in this, enabling every young person to become influential change-makers,” she said at the opening of the regional workshop.

The network draws its name from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also known as the Sustainable Development Goals – a set of intergovernmental development aspirations adopted by the UN General Assembly last year.  

Asia and the Pacific is on the cusp of a ‘youth bulge,’ with more working-age people, particularly youth, and fewer dependents than at any other point in history, providing a springboard for growth, says a recently published UNDP report.
 
Titled Shaping the Future: How Changing Demographics Can Power Human Development, the report reveals that 68% of people in the region are of working age and only 32 percent are dependents.

The members of the 2030YouthForce have been invited to co-design and implement the UNDP-UNV Regional Youth Project.

Using the social-media hashtags #WeAre2030 and #700milStrong, the attendees underscored time and again the need for youth to have a seat at the policy table in a region where young people now number nearly 700 million.

The network will:
-    Support young people to more effectively engage with the Sustainable Development Goals;
-    Invest in youth innovation and social entrepreneurship;
-    Empower young people to become influential change-makers;
-    Increase youth political participation and engagement;
-    Harness youth volunteering to build peaceful and inclusive societies.

Using Sustainable Development Goal 16 – Peaceful and Inclusive Societies, Justice, and Strong Institutions – as an entry point, UNDP and UNV are working to increase youth political participation and civic engagement throughout the Asia and the Pacific region.

“Volunteerism provides young people with opportunities to engage with marginalized communities and empowers them to lead society in a vision for a better world,” said Emiliya Asadova, a UNV Regional Youth Programme Specialist based in Bangkok.  

“Listening to the voices of young people, and providing spaces for ideas and action on global, regional, and national issues is a first step in empowering youth in Asia and the Pacific,” said Beniam Gebrezghi, the Programme Specialist for Civil Society and Youth at UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Hub. “This network gives young people a platform to discuss development challenges in an open and constructive manner,” he said.

“Demography can drive human development throughout Asia and the Pacific and young people need to be at the wheel. With youth at the heart of sustainable development, we can achieve our 2030 vision,” said Caitlin Wiesen.

With 24 offices and over 600 UN volunteers serving throughout the region, UNDP and UNV are strategically positioned to support and partner with youth led initiatives with the aim of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.