Colombo, 10 May 2014. More than 1500 people gathered in Sri Lanka from 6-10 May for the World Conference on Youth 2014. With the theme “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, delegates of the Conference worked together to finalize an outcome document known as the Colombo Declaration on Youth, which will feed into discussion surrounding the post- 2015 Development Agenda, the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The world’s largest gathering of youth began with a colorful ceremony in the southern Sri Lankan town of Hambantota. Youth from nearly 169 countries gathered to launch an event during which they would deliberate progress on the achievement of the MDGs and share ideas, experiences and innovative approaches to effectively contribute to the Post-2015 Development Agenda and its implementation.
Speaking about youth engagement in Sri Lanka, the country’s President Rajapaksa said, “We continue to integrate youth into our national policymaking and implementation mechanisms, through our network of more than 10,000 village-level youth-led organizations and the Sri Lanka Youth Parliament. Youth parliamentarians also consult and engage with policymakers and national parliamentarians, including civil society, to contribute policy inputs.”
The U.N. Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi read the message from Mr. Ban Ki-moon who said, “I am delighted that you have collected ideas for the 2015 Agenda. This is a critical time. We are working closely with member states, civil society, academia, the media, private sector and people like you – the next generation’s global leaders or as you call it, the core leaders of today to develop a blueprint for the people and planet for the future you want.”
UNFPA Asia and Pacific Regional Director, Ms. Nobuko Horibe was a panelist in the third plenary “Mainstreaming Youth in Post-2015 Agenda – Taking Action.” Ms. Horibe outlined the main ways in which UNFPA aims to include youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and called for a standalone youth goal in the new global arrangements for development.
Mr. Angga Dwi Martha, UNFPA Indonesia Youth Advocate, was a speaker in the Roundtable Session on Inclusive Youth Participation at All Levels. The roundtable called upon other young people to raise their voice and, together with governments and other actors, to revise, promote and create opportunities for youth. These opportunities will come from various political and innovative mechanisms, with a focus on ICT and social media. The roundtable pointed out that lack of education, limited self-governance of youth and little acknowledgement of youth leads to exclusion in participation and erodes responsibility of both young people and the state.
Long negotiations, which finally ended around midnight Friday, culminated in a declaration that is a first for all such conferences held so far – the first joint declaration by both policymakers and youth delegates.
One highlight of the Colombo Declaration on Youth was the commitment of youth and government to call for a standalone goal targeted at increased investment in the global aid architecture, youth empowerment and private sector to strengthen global, regional, national and local partnerships for and with youth in the development, implementation and monitoring of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, that are mainly linked with UNFPA advocacy to call standalone goal on the Post-2015 Development agenda.
The WCY 2014 has also voiced its utmost displeasure over the kidnapping of 234 school girls in Nigeria by the terrorist group "Boko Haram". Many youths from around the world staged their protest against the incident displaying placards which mentioned the global campaign Bring Back Our Girls in front of the halls where the sessions of the conference were being held and in front of the media center. Delegates who took part in the protest said it was a campaign not only against the incident that took place in Nigeria but also against the unjustifiable incidents faced by girls around the world.