The Institute for Sustainable Development and Cooperation (ISDC) hosted the event “Youth Engagement in Multi-lateral processes in achieving UN Agenda 2030” on the sidelines of the 22nd High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the UN Head Quarters, New York, in a hybrid format (in-person and virtual), on Thursday, 7th July 2022. The co-organizing partners were the Active Help Organization (AHO), Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum (ICYF) and Youth Advocacy Network (YAN). The key purpose of the event was to highlight the significance of meaningful youth participation and the challenges young people face in their meaningful engagement in decision-making processes.
The Co-founder of ISDC, Mr. Qasim Farasat, along with the chairperson of YAN, Mr. Fsahat-ul-Hassan, moderated the session. The panelists and participants were from diverse backgrounds and regions. Panelists included Syvanne Avitzur – Program Coordinator at ISDC, Sania Haider – Economist for Socially Inclusive Development, Farid Zakir – Policy Advisor, Department of Foreign Affairs at ICYF, Dr. Mohammad Hazimeh – Ministerial Advisor Lebanon, Nahjae Nunes – VC Policy and Advocacy, Commonwealth Youth Council.
Shaza Fatima Khwaja, Special Assistant to Prime Minister of Pakistan on Youth Affairs, attended as the honorable guest for the closing remarks.
Syvanne Avitzur, the program coordinator at ISDC, mentioned that very few opportunities are available for youth at multilateral levels. Although many states are trying to create opportunities, the awareness among youth remains low. Sania Haider, a young economist, said that facts and data-based policies could be effective for youth. Haider continued that if we know statistics pertinent to youth, it would be easier to focus on neglected grounds. VC policy and advocacy CYC Nahjae Nunes contributed that needs of the youth are not addressed sufficiently, and institutions have failed to provide equal opportunities to the youth. According to Nunes, youth are underrepresented at lower political levels, which has fueled mistrust in national governance.
The discussion was carried forward by Dr. Mohammad Hazimeh, Ministerial Advisor Lebanon, who shared that a lot of work for youth has been done in Lebanon, and he has seen youth coming forward and taking over various fields. The need to allocate resources for young people was also addressed by the session moderator Mr. Fsahat-ul-Hassan. Zakir, however, stressed the importance of intergenerational solidarity and international coordination. Youth are the future of the world. Farid said there should be more bridges of understanding, cooperation, and partnership on youth issues which is possible through multilateral cooperation.
After the panelist discussion, Qasim invited Shaza Fatima, who shared interesting facts and work on youth. Shaza shared that around 68% of the population in Pakistan is under the age of 30, and approximately 14 million people are between the ages of 15-30. She mentioned that youth is prioritized in Pakistan’s policymaking process with such demographics. She said that the Prime Minister takes many initiatives for youth development, such as the launch of the Innovation Hub portal, where youth can give ideas for mitigating development challenges online via a portal. Moreover, the parliament of 2013 and 2018 had more than 100 young representatives who were under the age of 40.
In the concluding remarks, Qasim and Fsahat thanked all the panelists and speakers for participating and sharing their productive views and feedback. However, Qasim concluded the session by stressing the governments to take necessary actions on meaningful youth engagement and ensure their participation at various levels, including multilateral. Farasat believes in empowering youth by giving them the opportunity at all decision-making levels so that youth can become the main drivers of change and sustainable development.