Thursday, 06 October 2011 11:24

Young people voice concerns on impact of economic crisis to UN officials

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Young people from 22 countries have gathered at the United Nations this week to shine a light on the impact that the global economic crisis is having on youth around the world.

The lack of jobs, education cuts, and the need for greater inclusion in decision-making processes are some of the issues that the youth delegates have been raising with UN officials since they arrived on Monday for a two-week visit.

The delegates have already met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, participated in informal negotiations, and given their input on youth-related resolutions.

Joren Selleslaghs, the Belgian delegate, told the UN News Centre that uncertainty in the job market and the obstacles faced by young professionals are a big concern for young people in his country.

“Finding a job is already difficult, but finding a sustainable one even more so. Many young people in Belgium end up taking internships or freelancing jobs and there’s always an uncertainty because of all the job cuts. On top of that, housing prices are too high and this makes it very hard to afford your first place.” he said.

Mr. Selleslaghs was one of the delegates who today addressed the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which was discussing a resolution on the social impact of the economic crisis on young people.

Concerns over education cuts were also high on the delegates’ agenda, with many saying that the quality of education has decreased in their countries since the start of the economic crisis, making investment in education a priority for them.

Other issues had a more regional focus. Andrea Roman, the delegate from Peru, said that young Peruvians are not only worried about getting jobs and education, but also the future of their political system.

“Young people want stability, and they never want to live in a dictatorship again. We want to ensure we have a political future, and not make the same mistakes made in the past,” she said.

Russian delegate Anna Gavrilova said migration and intercultural issues are a main concern in her country.

“We have many nationalities so it’s important that we learn how to interact and also learn from each other. We may be different but we all want equal rights,” she said.

However, a resonating theme was that of inclusion in decision-making processes in their countries as well as in the international system.

“The UN is built on the foundation that everyone is represented and that together we can work on solutions. This needs to reflect young people’s priorities too,” said the delegate from the Netherlands, Dirk Anton Jansen.

Before the trip to UN Headquarters, many delegates spent almost a year talking to their peers at schools, universities and youth forums, listening to their concerns and preoccupations, and bringing their message to UN officials and world leaders.

“I spoke to 76 youth organizations in Sweden with about half a million members. They all have different concerns, but I think that what they care about the most is inclusion. They want to feel that they can say what they want and that their voices are heard,” said Marlin Johansson, who earlier today led a side event on the topic of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth in Sweden.

Ms. Johansson said the experience so far had shown her all the work that goes on behind the scenes at the UN.

“It has been an incredible opportunity to be here. I think it was hard to understand what was going on before coming here. Now we get to see what is going on behind all the work. It’s definitely not as easy as we thought. You have to be very strategic with what you say,” she said.

Source: UN News Service

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