By Fatoumatta K Jallow
Ms. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the UN Resident Coordinator in The Gambia, said Unemployment and Poverty are increasingly dominant among the youth and seen as the cause for migration, particularly illegal “back-way” migration to Europe.
This, she added, makes it critical to bring the youth at the center of SDGs promotion and implementation so that their knowledge, reach, and innovative solutions are essential if poverty reduction and sustainable development are to be realized.
The UN Resident Coordinator made these remarks in her statement on Monday, 24 October 2016, while addressing young people on the commemoration of the 71 years of existence of the United Nations (UN).
She calls on all UN partners to reflect on the organization’s history and take stock of its enduring achievements over the decades for the people of the Gambia.
This year’s UN Day theme is “Engaging youth in sustainable development goals (SDGs) promotion and implementation”.
In her statement, Ms. A Lekoetje said it is 71 years since the United Nations was formed and it continues to promote peace and security, sustainable development and human rights across the world.
“In The Gambia, the UN is supporting Government’s development agenda as outlined in The Gambia’s long-term development Vision 2020 and the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE),” she said.
The UN Resident Coordinator said this year’s theme highlights their commitment to focus on the role of Gambian youth in the implementation of the SDGs to successfully implement the 17 SDGs in the next 15 years. “We have to engage everyone, particularly the youth to empower them with knowledge of the Goals and ensure they actively work toward their realization as the emerging leaders and force for change for a better, more developed and peaceful world, the youth must own SDGs,” she said.
She emphasized the need for young people to be seen as partners for the implementation particularly of these SDGs, including participating in the translation of the sustainable development agenda into local and national policy, in monitoring and reviewing, and in holding governments accountable.
She noted that their program today integrates the young people, especially the school children, in the promotion and implementation of SDGs. The UN System is partnering with the government and schools to pilot the setting up of SDGs clubs in schools across the country.
“I am pleased to inform you that the first SDGs club in The Gambia will be launched today here at St. Peter’s Senior Secondary School. Similar SDGs clubs will be launched across the country in the near future,” disclosed the UN Resident Coordinator.
She said the SDGs clubs in schools will empower students to participate and take up meaningful SDGs activities and projects and the clubs will create the platform for students to reach out and engage their parents, peers, neighborhood and communities to promote the SDGs.
Ms. Lekoetje said building future generation of leaders in the context of SDGs demands collaboration and partnerships. She acknowledges the work of international development partners in the Gambia that complements the UN effort in promoting the agenda and welfare of the youth.
She also acknowledges the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media in advocating for a better life for young people across the country, adding that the UN System in The Gambia remains committed to assisting the Government and the people of the Gambia to achieve the sustainable development goals and ensure that no one is left behind.
Mrs. Neneh Macdouall Gaye, Minister of Foreign Affairs, also emphasised the importance of the SDGs and the role they will play in the life of young people.
Mr. Ousman Sowe, who was representing the minister of environment, climate change and natural resources, for his part, described this year’s theme as befitting, as its highlights concrete actions that people can take to help achieve the SDGs more so the youthful population.
He said it also aims to raise awareness on the SDGs and their importance to the attainment of national development targets which will be difficult to realize if the youths who are the bulk of the population and who have much to contribute to inclusive and sustainable development are left out.
Mr. Sowe stressed that the youth are an integral part and essential for the implementation and realization of the SDGs.
Mr. Lamin Darboe, Director of the National Youth Council (NYC), said the SDGs seek to eradicate poverty and hunger, ensure quality and relevant education and health for all, make this world safe for people and planet, ensure inclusiveness and that no one is left behind. He said they are domesticated into the national development blue prints like PAGE and its successor plans.