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Agenda 2030: The role of youth in peace, security and sustainability

Let me start by wishing all of you a very happy ‘International Youth Day’.

On 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) to declare ‘August 12’ as the International Youth Day (to know more about the history read UN resolution 54/120). This initiative reverberated with the growing acknowledgment to position Youth as the agents of change and made a high-level case for young professionals to be included in development debates, including discussions of peace, security and our ‘common future’ in a globalized world.  Recent discussions (S/RES/2282, 2016) at the UN Security Council Resolution also reiterates the significance of the role of the young professionals in tackling conflicts, and in peacebuilding efforts. That said, the youth day in 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace with the theme- ‘Youth Building Peace

Let me try to describe what it means for us; as many or most of you may be hearing about ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ and the Sustainable Development Goals with its embedded objectives to create inclusive and peaceful societies and nations. Say, for example, the SDG 16- that aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels or SDG 17, that talks about strengthening the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. Clearly, the role of the youth is critical to the attainment of these development goals and subsequently the youth will also be largely impacted by the outcome of actions that nations will undertake to realize the SDG agenda- after all, the talk is about our ‘common future’.

Recently, I participated in the 32nd Global Forum on Agricultural Research Steering Committee Meeting and the Strategic Workshop. As a multi-stakeholder-led initiative, GFAR provides a consultative dialogue forum to discuss what constitutes ‘collective action' in the agricultural research and innovation sector and interestingly, focused attention was provided for youth issues in the dialogues. Let me mention the YPARD Mentoring programs or the Inter regional youth dialogues.

The GFAR steering committee meeting

The meeting and workshop attended by 29 Steering Committee members and the team GFAR (headed by Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary) and representatives of IFAD (Shantanu Mathur) and FAO (Ren Wang, Assistant Director General of FAO’s Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department) provided a platform to openly discuss and crucially analyze common interests and joint objectives that will contribute to defining the Key Focus Areas (KFA’s ) and ‘Collective Action Design Principles’ of the GFAR medium terms plan (MTP-2018-2021) and initiate a discussion how this approach can be adopted in relation to fulfilling the goals and targets of Agenda 2030. Building on the discussions from the ‘Strategic Workshop on Collective Agenda for SDG’s’ that was annexed with the Steering Committee meeting, I’m very confident that YPARD will benefit by boosting interaction with GFAR towards realizing the agenda of transforming agricultural production, research and innovation systems. The exchange during the event reinforced a plan for a collective strategy that calls for multi-stakeholder and multi-partner initiatives.

The KFA’s of GFAR include; rural communities shaping their own futures; determining rural innovation needs; rights, equity, and empowerment in agroecosystems; access to and value of open data and information and gender & youth focused interventions in the ARD landscape and these KFA’s observe the guiding theories [Foresight for Better Futures; Partnerships for Impact; Transformative Investments; Capacities for Change; Research in Society and Accountability for Action.

For YPARD, it remains important to lead the ‘youth’ dimension in the SDG related discussions, more so in the ARD context, and work closely with GFAR and its constituent members, to accomplish our objectives on mentorship and transformational learning. In addition, the collective agenda action plan will carefully consider alignment with the priorities of UN FAO and as GFAR plans to focus on the SDG 17, multi-stakeholder partnership model and collective agenda approach to addresses the targets outlined in the food, poverty, health and well-being related goals and targets, SDG’s  2,5, 8, 10, & 12.  YPARD should make focused efforts to join hands in the strategic partnerships that will empower the youth to remain connected with sustainable development related policy dialogues.

As a representative of the global youth consistency of GFAR, YPARD is all geared to drive the cause to mobilize inputs from partners in GFAR constituency network, as to what each wishes to accomplish and support their objectives and actions towards the Youth inclusive SDG’s agenda implementation planning. The productive discussions of the meeting assisted me towards understanding the tactics of consensus building in a multiple-partner initiative and process of managing roles, responsibilities, pledges and expectations towards implementing ‘collective action’. If YPARD aims to adopt this collective action thinking, it needs to build a comprehensive understanding of the ‘collective action framework’ and how that lays possibilities towards the accomplishment of SDG goals and targets. The meeting also provided space and opportunity for bilateral discussions with key stakeholders interested in youth issues, to mention among others, representative of CGIAR institute ICARDA, Alisher Tashmatov and Dr. Mohammad M. Ajlouni, Executive Secretary, Association of Agriculture Research Institutions in the Near East & North Africa, Jordan. 

Overall, the discussions were crucial to realize the approach (collective action agenda) towards harnessing collective intelligence for common goals, partnership building and shaping of an action plan to transform innovation systems concept from theory to practice. The ‘collective actions’ compiled during the event will be further discussed and developed by those concerned and truly owns the youth mandate.

YPARD should position itself to lead this collective agenda for ‘supporting Youth–led movements for change’ in mobilizing and engaging with young people to develop and determine their vision of sustainable futures.

Essentially, common ‘youth’ agenda can be effectively accomplished through collaboration and exchange of data, information, and knowledge between various networks and initiatives that are making mindful efforts to warrant well-organized and productive role of ‘youth’ in the development debates and policy dialogues. This involves producing more food while using less water, building the resilience of farming communities to cope with floods and droughts, and applying clean water technologies that protect the environment. I would like to see us working closely with GFAR to leverage opportunities for collaboration on domains of common interest, more so in the food security and SDG context.

Together, with GFAR and others, lets us explore innovative models of engagement among young professionals and strategies to support the development of youth capacities as they engage in exploring their desired futures in the SDG agenda time period.

Team YPARD, enjoy your day and feel this renewed passion of creating a new world. You may also want to look into the World Programme of Action for Youth that offers a policy framework and applied strategies to advance the situation of young people while encouraging "promoting the active involvement of youth in maintaining peace and security"

Nidhi Nagabhatla from UNU INWEH who is also the Chair of YPARD and steering committee member of GFAR features in the video blog- ‘Designing the Future of GFAR: Common Values and Commitment Required’  carrying the message ‘Discussing Agenda 2030- certainly can’t leave youth behind’’

Photo credit: GFAR