NAIROBI, 22 JULY 2016—WYA Africa Director Ahawo Patricia Gwambo represented WYA members at the 14th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD14) Youth Forum, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from July 18-21, 2016. This was the first Youth Forum held as part of an UNCTAD meeting. Secretary General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi commented that the conference organisers realised the importance of the youth in the current deliberations on trade and the need for them to be present moving forward.
The conference theme was, “From decision to action: Moving towards an inclusive and equitable global economic environment for trade and development.” This reflected the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which came into effect at the beginning of 2016. The SDGs reflect a broad and inclusive agenda for global development, and several goals, such as SDG8, on economic growth, SDG9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, and SDG17, global partnerships, relate to the work of the Conference. The aspect of inclusiveness inspired a drive for greater youth participation. A total of 350 youth worldwide being selected to attend, with youth from Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Middle East, Australia and Europe. WYA Africa was able to interact with fellow youth representatives fromTanzania, Thailand, Canada, Nigeria, Uganda, Switzerland, Singapore and Kenya, among others.
Youth representatives worked together to draft a Youth Declaration that would form part of the UNCTAD Report and be incorporated in the Ministerial Report. This task was undertaken with great diligence. Throughout the Conference, the youth prepared their documents in different working groups: Private Sector Jobs; Public Sector Jobs; Education; Public Sector Governance; and Private Sector Governance.
The Declaration was officially presented to the UNCTAD Secretary General on Thursday July, 21 2016 at 11:00 am in an open forum with all the youth present and Ministers from the Netherlands, Kenya and Jordan present. It brought out with clarity the important role education, governance and the SDGs had to play collectively in trade highlighting the challenges and making prepositions on solutions that can be put in place to address this.
The theme of the youth forum run strongly and parallel with that of the overall conference, with the youth focus being on “Shaping the Future We Want.” As the Youth Forum officially closed on Thursday 21, 2016, the message for solidarity remained strong as they sang a song called “Together” by Elani, written specially for the conference. We know that the task ahead is immense but it is not insurmountable and together as one the actions needed through trade for the achievement of the SDGs is possible.
Report by Ahawo Patricia Gwambo, Africa Regional Director