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Do young people have a role in trade & development?
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Do young people have a role in trade & development?

By Faith Manthi

The Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) is a a youth-led organisation that aims to advance the youth development agenda, to ensure a relevant, vibrant, effective, and prosperous Commonwealth in the 21st century and beyond. This can only be achieved through mainstreaming young people into the work of the Commonwealth.

The CYC partners with Commonwealth organisations and provides a platform for young people to engage in Ministerial Meetings, Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meetings and United Nations meetings, to allow them to interact and raise awareness with global leaders on matters affecting them. In conjuction to this, the CYC was represented at the UN Conference on Trade and Development 14 (UNCTAD 14), which was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 19-21 July 2016.

The diversity of backgrounds represented at this Forum was a major asset. With over 250 participants from 70 different countries and 140 different nationalities, along with 1,000 participants who contributed online, this provided a truly global view on the tools needed to operationalise the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in terms of trade and development.

The UNCTAD 14 Theme was, “Moving towards an inclusive and equitable global economic environment for trade and development”. As noted by UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, young people must have a say on this issue. A declaration document was produced, which focused on three major issues – quality education, more and better jobs, and state accountability. Moreover, a global statement of unity on issues of trade and development was reached following the adoption of two consensus documents— Nairobi Azimio and Nairobi Maafikiano.

“I am confident that the implementation of [these] declarations will enable us to accelerate progress towards shared prosperity,” said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who addressed the Forum’s closing ceremony.

The education system should be in such a way that it provokes critical thinking by young people, especially in the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This will result in innovation and growth in researching development to develop superior competitive products, services and processes.

I believe that young people should be present at the decision-making table so that they can engage constructively in the policy formulation process rather than simply being accessories. As humanity ushers in a new age of sustainable development, young people have proven that they have the knowledge, experience, and passion to make transformative and substantive inputs.


About me: I am a social and human scientist working with young people and Kenya at large in development and finding solutions to resolvable problems. I am the Vice Chairperson-Partnership and Resources for  the Commonwealth Youth Council and the Chairperson for the UNESCO Youth Forum Kenya.
Photo courtesy of UNCTAD.



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