ECA hosts discussion with Africa’s youth to steer continent towards achievement of SDGs

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United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa will hold a virtual event on the theme “Africa’s Youth in The Decade of Action: Actors or Bystanders” on 20 December 2021 at 12.00–13.30 UTC / 15.00–16.30 EAT.

Young people are those most affected by the SDGs: they stand to gain the most from high-quality education, decent work, gender equality and a healthy planet – or to lose the most if the world fails to reach those goals. Their energy, ideals and initiatives are crucial for achieving the Goals.

You are invited to this event to hear first-hand the success stories, challenges, and perspectives of young Africans as we continue to strive towards the SDGs.

· Welcome remarks: Dr. Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa

· Keynote speech: Ms. Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti, climate and environmental activist

· Panel discussion: The Hon. Emma Theofelus, Deputy Minister of Information, Communications and Technology of the Republic of Namibia; Prof. Adji Bousso Dieng, Founder, The Africa I Know and Assistant Professor, Princeton; Mr. Thobo Khathola, Managing Director, Lion Tutoring and Mr. Achalake Christian Leke, Executive Director, LOYOC Cameroon

· Closing remarks: Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

The event will:

1. Serve as a platform for young people to engage with their leaders to renew their commitment to the 2030 Agenda and to advocate for urgency, ambition and action to realize the Sustainable Development Goals;

2. Provide African youth a virtual hub to mobilize, reflect on their needs and aspirations, and establish coalitions for positive change through the achievement of the Goals;

3. Gather young African leaders to share best practices, experiences, and challenges in their work towards the Goals so far, and provide a platform for peer learning, connection and collaboration for their work going forward during the Decade of Action;

4. Brainstorm concrete ideas and actions that young women and men can take in their respective communities, countries, and regions to ensure that Africa achieves the Goals by 2030.

Background

The population of Africa is the world’s youngest, with a median age of just 19.7 years. Its young people will steer the continent’s trajectory in the twenty-first century – their success or failure will also be that of the continent as a whole.

On 25 September 2015, the world came together in a historic moment to commit to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In its resolution adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, the General Assembly declared that “the future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations”.

It also recognized that “children and young women and men are critical agents of change and will find in the new Goals a platform to channel their infinite capacities for activism into the creation of a better world”.

Nearly six years on, where does Africa stand in its journey towards achieving the Goals?

At the end of 2019, along five dimensions of sustainable development (people, prosperity, planet, peace and partnership) Africa was largely off-track. Then COVID-19 struck, threatening to erase much of the continent’s progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Simply put, Africa’s achievement of the Goals is at a grave risk.

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