UNCTAD 14 and Youth Forum: From Decisions to What Actions?

Blessing Ajimoti at the UNCTAD 14 and Youth Forum (Kenyatta Internatonal Convention Centre, Nairobi — Kenya, July 2016)

The 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held in July 2016 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. UNCTAD is a quadrennial event that brings together key players in the public and private sectors globally to assess issues concerning trade and development, and chart economic policy strategies and framework for global development and prosperity.

Although there had been 13 previous editions beginning from 1964, the UNCTAD 14 was unique because for the first time, the youth was formally included through the inaugural UNCTAD 14 and Youth Forum and with the theme ‘’From Decisions to Actions’’ and was informed by the need to achieve the Agenda 2030 on sustainable development.
The inaugural UNCTAD Youth Forum had over 250 participants from more than 70 countries with over 140 nationalities around the world in attendance and its focus was on Better Education, More and Better Jobs and State Accountability.

Team UN Major Group for Children and Youth: Blessing Ajimoti, Donovan Guttieres, and Esther Muiruri, and African Peer Review Mechanism Youth Working Group’s Passy Amayo

The Youth Forum had preliminary online consultations on these themes and had over 1000 young participants from all over the world proposing solutions to these three focal areas. The online consultation was informed by the need to incorporate the position of youth into the UNCTAD 14 process. Young people had the opportunity to present their perspectives and opinions at the main UNCTAD events including the high level sessions, and side eve nts, and also engaged in drawing up policy solutions and recommendations through breakout sessions, to the challenges concerning education, employment and accountability of public leadership. All of these consultations and breakout sessions led to three outcome documents that were in line with UNCTAD’s mandates on trade and development and the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development, and they are the UNCTAD 14 Youth Online Consultation Report, the UNCTAD 14 Youth Policy Brief and the UNCTAD 14 Youth Declaration themed ‘’Moving towards and inclusive and economic environment for trade and development’’.

… with UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi

One of the aspects that made the Youth Forum significant was that there was a High Level Ministerial Session at the end of the Forum that had the UNCTAD Secretary-General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, and other dignitaries, including the United Nations Secretary-General’s Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi in attendance for the presentation of the Youth Declaration. Many youth were also given the opportunity to ask questions, and the main features of their questions were about how UNCTAD intends to integrate the Youth Forum’s recommendations into the main UNCTAD process and how UNCTAD plans to help young people hold their governments accountable to the outcomes of the Conference.

It is important that governments — Nigeria’s government, in this regard — and decision makers in the public and private sectors carry young people along in the policy and decision making processes, and also in implementing the outcomes of the UNCTAD 14 and Youth Forum. To increase the possibilities of effectiveness, and for inclusion, a public-private-youth partnership approach should be adopted. Young people are the leaders of today and are better informed on what is required for their development to occur in an inclusive and sustainable manner and must be given a place at the table. The effects of the decisions made today are not for today’s public office holders alone, but for the emerging generation of young people to live with and the youth must therefore be included in decision making processes, provided with access to skills, education and enabling environment to thrive and spur innovation and employment. It is also important that governmental processes be transparent and that public office holders be accountable.

The necessity for Nigeria to inform its planning through the incorporation of science with policy cannot be overemphasised, and it also essential that we seek for more opportunities to foster international development and trade cooperation regionally and globally. Nigeria should also regularly monitor the key outcomes of policy decisions and strategies in order to easily identify, reinforce and sustain effective approaches and modify ineffective solutions as Nigeria moves towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Blessing Oluwatosin Ajimoti is interested in education policy, and a youth advocate and volunteer for quality and inclusive education. She attended the UNCTAD 14 and Youth Forum on the delegation of the Science-Policy Interface Platform of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth. Kindly reach her at bajimoti@yahoo.com and on twitter @BlessingAjimoti.