A European perspective on the UN’s 45th Commission on Population and Development

Last week saw the 45th Commission on Population and Development focus on adolescents and youth and was undoubtedly the highlight of my dabbling in political life to date.

Having travelled from Europe to attend the International Solidarity Forum the week before, I felt suitably acclimatised to talk on social development and all the issues that go with increasingly public concerns that some consider the world to be over-populated. (Click here for WYA’s Declaration on Sustainable Development.)

Little did I know that the population of young people across the globe is actually in decline. Yet despite this notable fact, a large part of the Commission was given to discussing sexual and reproductive health in what seemed like a bid to further curb population growth.

Should this come as a surprise? Well, yes and no. Firstly, yes, because of all the issues that face us young people in the 21stcentury, I would have placed employment and education at the top of my priorities for adolescents and young people.

Yet on the other hand, it did not come as a surprise to me because many countries, particularly in the West, seem keen to push an agenda of sexual education that presides over other pressing issues such as improving general health amongst adolescents and young people and the employability potential of the ever increasing number of young people who are facing a bleak, jobless future.

Yet despite the powerful grip that certain delegates held on the floor, I felt that an undercurrent of developing nations were holding fast onto their petition for better access to education that is both quality and gender balanced, better maternal healthcare and the creation of a better economic environment for the next generation.

So, after listening to delegates present their outlook on the challenges facing young people from their individual countries, I felt both pained at the daily struggles that so many young people face in trying to access a decent education, find a job or simply maintain a healthy standard of living, and yet privileged at the opportunities I have had so far in life.

One thing is for sure though, that every time the words “youth participation” floated to my ears, I felt honoured and proud to represent the World Youth Alliance in defending a future for young people that does not exist solely in the freedom to choose their future, but further still, enables them to do so in a truly supportive and caring environment that seeks to invest in their every need; physical, social, spiritual and intellectual.

Little remains than to hope that the Commission works towards enabling the best economic and social environment for every young person to ensure that each and every person is given the capacity to strive to reach their potential as a unique and resourceful human being in a world that increasingly treats people as statistics.
Suzy Holloway, Intern at the European Office