Youth Round Table with UN Youth Envoy on Youth and SDGs in India

August 16, 2017 | UNESCO MGIEP, New Delhi, INDIA

As part of the continued International Youth Day celebrations, the YESPeace Network hosted a round table with the UN Youth Envoy, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake along with youth and youth organisations on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in India. The purpose of the interactive session was to provide a platform to youth organisations and young people to share their perspectives, concerns and details of their work in India with the UN Youth Envoy.

The lively and thought-provoking discussion provided a bottoms up perspective on the real issues facing young people in India and gave them an opportunity to share their expectations of the United Nations. Partners of the YESPeace Network-India Chapter including STEPS, Pravah and CYC were also present as a part of discussion session. Along with them representatives from Breakthrough, YP Foundation and Tata Institute of Social Sciences and UN Women also jointed the round table discussion.

Some of the key points which came forth during the discussion were as follows:

  • The need to advocate for and create safe empowering spaces for young people in India
  • Focus and investment in building leadership in young people and especially women in India. The group opined that there is presently limited representation of women’s voices in leadership spaces in India
  • Building capacities of young people takes time and impact indicators need to re-looked at and re-defined to capture this change. It is not about tactical engagement with young people, instead embarking on a journey and enabling them to become resilient and providing them a platform to become real change makers
  • The young people’s development should be looked at holistically and from the perspective of human flourishing. Young people must not be viewed merely as economic assets
  • To build avenues and opportunities to include voices of the marginalised sections of society, such as the Dalit and Tribal youth in India within the UN system
  • Emphasis on skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and compassion, which should be given equal weightage as subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic
  • Creating avenues for young people to mainstream the SDGs as an ongoing sustained engagement instead of one off consultations
  • ‘Localising’ the framework of SDGs to make them more relatable and understandable for young people in India.

The UN Youth Envoy, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake mentioned that it is important to localise the SDGs for young people to make them more accessible and that the UN has responsibility to go into the community and talk to young people and empower them. She added that we need to find creative ways to measure outcomes of the work carried out by youth organisations. Furthermore, she said that there was a need to more focus on mainstreaming youth voices through formal institutionalised mechanisms and structures.

The enriching interactive session displayed the passion of youth organisations working with young people in India and again re-enforced the belief that  in order to achieve the SDGs, the role of young people needs to change from being mere beneficiaries to becoming active partners in implementing and monitoring the SDGs.

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