28 November 2017 – A new UN partnership that will empower young leaders in the Global South to become agents of change was launched Tuesday during the Global South-South Development Expo 2017 in Antalya, Turkey.
The initiative, known as ‘Scaling Up Southern Solutions for Sustainable Development Through Advanced Youth Leadership’ – or by the shorthand, ‘Youth for the South’ – will focus on tailor-made on-site learning and leadership development programmes.
“Youth are not only on the receiving side when we speak about contributing to the Sustainable Development Agenda. With just a little helping hand, they can yield some beautiful results; they are proactive, they are innovative, they are full of energy,” underscored Edem Bakhshish, Chief, Regional Division for Arab States, Europe and the CIS, of the Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), during the presentation of the partnership.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Financial Center for South-South Cooperation, the Union for the Mediterranean and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are among the initial funding partners of Youth for the South.
Through the programme, young leaders will learn to identify and adapt successful solutions in their areas of interest, as well as will receive hands-on training to bring transformational change to their own communities and countries.
“This initiative is going to help young people for two fundamental reasons: first, it is going to bring young people to the table – it is very important that young people’s voice is heard in a national, regional and local level. Secondly, it will, at a personal level, really strengthen young people’s leadership by providing them with the skills and opportunities to build their own personal leadership,” Alanna Armitage, the UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, told UN News.
Initially, around 30 to 60 young leaders from six developing countries, chosen by their proven capabilities and strong potential to make a difference in their communities, will take part in an intensive programme that will consist of interactive sessions, on-site and on-the-job training, and distance learning.
The participants will travel to other Southern nations to learn about specific areas of interest related to sustainable development, including agriculture and rural development, social protection, sustainable energy and youth employment.
The programme will be overseen by a steering committee comprised of representatives of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, founding partners, and participating UN agencies.
“People from Africa, Asia, America and Australia came here for the youth, and it is very important and powerful. I am very happy to be here. Youth is a very important moment in a person’s life. If we give [young people] everything they need, they will do everything for humanity,” stressed Ahmed Malla, a young Syrian refugee living in Turkey, who now volunteers for UNFPA.
UNOSSC emphasized that with some 85 per cent of the world’s youth now residing in the Global South, it is fundamental to establish new partnerships and support young leaders. The Office urged strong support for the Youth for the South initiative by the international community and potential partners at the Expo.