The Gambia's minister of Youth and Sports, Alieu K. Jammeh, was among delegates who participated in a two-day youth forum organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in New York, US.
The high-level forum on the theme "Inclusion of young people in national decision-making reoccurring" brought together participants from the UN member states, including The Gambia.
At the end of the forum, member states welcomed a proposal to incorporate youth-focused target areas in the post-2015 development agenda.
In his presentation of the paper "global youth call", the UN secretary-general's envoy on youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, stressed that any new development agenda should mainstream youth, expressing hope that the youth-focused targets would be relevant to inter-governmental negotiations on the post-2015 development framework.
The topic covers the top five thematic priorities of youth, which are: education, employment and entrepreneurship, health, good governance, peace and stability. It asks for inclusion in the post-2015 development agenda of targets such as: ensuring universal access to quality primary and post-primary education; reducing the number of youth unemployment; ensuring young peoples' meaningful and inclusive participation in decision-making processes as well as governance and peace building.
The vice president of the European Youth Forum, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, for his part, pointed out that the 'Millennium Declaration' mentioned young people only once, underscoring the need for youth to be on the table when a decision would be made on the post-2015 development agenda.
Amanda Lundy of the PLAN International said the 'Global Youth Call' document stressed that youth, governments and all other stakeholders must come together to act. Describing how UN processes could lack transparency, he said wealthy states participating in the 1992 Earth Summit had gotten away with what they wanted, but after that the "microphones were cut off for youth".
The chairperson of the Youth Advocacy Group for the Global Education First Initiative, Chernor Bah, said the document (global youth call) represents a strong and unified voice that governments and the international community could not ignore.
Hungarian-born Csaba Korosi and co-chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, said the 'youth call' represented a "contract among generations". He said some youth had been involved in the Working Group's deliberations on the post-2015 "zero draft" on sustainable development goals. Four of those goals and seven targets, he said, directly addressed youth concerns while inviting youth to review the draft and work with their governments to devise and implement national plans.
The Technical Analyst at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Prateek Awasthi, said although the post-2015 discussions included issues of unemployment and poverty, among others, young people felt something was missing. "They were twice as likely to be poor and three-times as likely to be unemployed. Furthermore, majority of sexual assaults happened to girls under the age of 16," he concluded.