The United Nations has moved to improve youth participation at this year’s summit and young people from Zimbabwe and other parts of the world are holding crucial meetings on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
At a side session during the 70th UN General Assembly, young people were drawn together to focus on how the youth can lead the change on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Human rights activist Beatrice Savadye, who is also the current director for Real Open Opportunities for Transformation Support, an organization working to promote social and economic justice for young people in Zimbabwe, said the meetings were necessary in setting the agenda for young people in securing the SDGs in their respective countries.
“Particularly what we talked about was the need for involvement and participation, meaningful involvement and participation of young people in all spheres and all spaces of decision making,” said Savadye.
She said the main point was that young people need to be part of the (SDGs) implementation as much as they were involved in the decision-making process.
The SDGs focus on 17 goals that target poverty, hunger, quality education, gender equality, climate change, among other issues, replacing the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000.
The challenge, Savadye said, is now making sure young people are aware of the new goals and how they will directly affect them.
“With the Millennium Development Goals you find out that a lot of young people were not really aware of what they were and what they meant for them. So, that is what we are particularly pushing for that we need to ensure that country level dialogue and country level strategies that are going to happen now that adoption is done that young people are a part of implementation of strategies.”
Mcleo Mapfumo, youth president of the United Nations Association Zimbabwe, echoed the sentiments.
Speaking on VOA Studio’s Livetalk, Mapfumo said young people and the majority of Zimbabweans at grassroots level were left behind during the implementation of the MDGs and that has also been the case in the process of deciding on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
“Looking way back in 2012 member states in Brazil at the Rio+20 Conference decided to take the initiative of teaching people about the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, we as Zimbabwe we were not doing anything. It’s only until later, I think May when the government started to come upfront and tell people about the SDGs,” said Mapfumo.
He said although the UN has extended the privilege for young people to be a direct part of the 2030 goals, on a Zimbabwean perspective the critical issue of rule of law, governance and human rights are affecting development.
Savadye said Zimbabwe must have the political will to address the challenges of implementation and take account of the involvement of Zimbabweans and the world’s biggest demographic, young people.
Zimbabwe has committed itself to implement the 17 goals, taking each step by step. State officials said they will prioritize significant goals and work on the issues of resources.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals start in January 2016 and are on target to be achieved in 15 years or 2030.