By Achievement Dhlakama
ACHIEVEMENT DHLAKAMA is a young person aged 25. She attended the HLPF held in New York City from 10-19 July 2017 as a member of IMCS-PAX ROMANA. The theme of the HLPF 2017 was eradicating poverty in a changing world. This theme from her perspective seems to have been inspired by the SDGs which were under review in 2017 these were Goals 1,2,3,5,9 & 14. She is sharing in this article her experience.
My experiences in New York reaffirmed my appreciation of the work being done by young people world over. I met young people from all over the world, who came from very different backgrounds. However we were united in one cause; the need to have a voice where it matters, to have our views considered and appreciated and not tolerated. Our aim was to deliver the voice of the youth so that no one is left behind. As young people we consistently mentioned the presence of ageism in the UN Systems and Forums. By the end of the two weeks it was apparent the president of the ECOSOC, the Secretary General and all diplomats and representatives present were aware that the discrimination against young people was real and should be addressed.
In the whole process of the HLPF I had time to interact with young people who are engaged in promoting and implementing the different goals for the Agenda 2030. What I learnt was every effort is important no matter how small. We all have to play our part and cumulatively the Agenda will be attained.
Was it a worth-while experience
Indeed it was. It was an opportunity to learn and see the UN System in motion. Reading about the work of the UN gives the illusion that member states and other stakeholders are always civil towards each other and that they all have the same progressive and development agenda.
My experiences taught me that this is not true, the system involves a lot of negotiations and debates. Although this may be perceived as a tedious and slow process, from my perspective I thought it was a very exhaustive way of doing things. Decisions that affect the whole world must not be passed in a rubber stamping manner. All stakeholders and member states should table their suggestions and defend them before any of them can be accepted and passed as a resolution. The process maybe complicated and to an extent slow but ultimately a well-reasoned decision is reached.
The experience also taught me to not take UN Resolutions for granted. A lot of work is invested in the drafting and negotiations of these different resolutions and as citizens I learnt that it is important to not take them for granted. It is imperative that as citizens we play our role in operationalizing the Goals of Agenda 2030. Yes member states have an obligation; however the end result of that obligation is to the benefit of all. Therefore as young people we stand to gain more if we are part of the implementation process.
The experience gave me a personal interpretation of what it means to leave no one behind. To leave no one behind for me also means to have the will to not be left behind. As young people we cannot sit back and wait to be handed down the benefits of the Agenda, we have to take charge, be aggressive and willing to work together with other stakeholders so that the fruits of the Agenda are for us by us.
During the course of the HLPF I had the pleasure of meeting Mr G. Nyaguse Director for Economic Planning and Co-ordination in the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion in Zimbabwe. He expressed interest in the work done by IMCS-PAX ROMANA and the UN Major Group for Children and Youth. He contacted me after the HLPF when I was back in my home country, and requested if I could come up with some recommendations to his Ministry as a young person.
Due to the short notice I came up with the following few recommendations :
My recommendations as young person
In addition to all the other information that can be found on the UN Website regarding the HLPF and all the related events, I am going to give recommendations based on my interactions with other youth delegates and young people from the rest of the continent and other parts of the world.
- It is my recommendation that the government of Zimbabwe engages in a process of educating the young people and children about the SDGs. The SDGs are not known by many people and this makes it difficult for the government to be able to engage meaningfully with the young people on what they expect as the outcomes of the SDGs. It is imperative to first give knowledge on the SDGs before suggesting ways of implementing them for the benefit of young people. It is my recommendation that the responsible authorities in partnership with other Stakeholders take it upon themselves to educate the young people and other citizens, only then can we move forward together in implementing the SDGs.
- It is my recommendation too, that when the delegation of Zimbabwe attends these forums on SDGs, they come up with youth delegations, where by young people are represented by their peers in the government delegation and the youth delegates also get a chance to speak at these forums on behalf of the government initiatives. This will assist the authorities in giving a true representation of the sentiment that” leave no one behind and solutions for youth by the youth”. To have an official youth delegation will also allow easy access by the responsible authority to youth issues without having to consult many other stakeholders. It is an uncommon concept within the continent that governments have youth delegations, however this does not mean it is not a good initiative.
- It is my recommendation too that the responsible authority may open a website or forum where young people contribute their ideas and projects on what can be done or what they are doing in fulfilling the agenda 2030. This will allow easy access by the responsible authority to these initiatives and it will allow government and other stakeholders’ collaborations without much hustle.
- It is also imperative for the responsible authority to keep up the continuous reference to young people and young people centred projects. Young people should be given their own platforms without being bunched up with other groups. In all development initiatives a special quota should be reserved for young people so it becomes easier to monitor progress in their access to the SDGs agenda.
It is commendable how the government has strove in addressing the SDGs under review this year. The command Agriculture initiative has been a success in reducing poverty and hunger. It would be prudent at the end of the harvesting season for the responsible authority to collect all the statistics and publish them so that the success does not remain hypothetical. Hopefully such initiatives will continue getting governmental support and also remain accessible to the young people.
I cannot commit all the experiences to paper as they occurred. All the related documents and papers can be accessed on the UN Website.
However am humbled by the experience and exposure. I am more convinced that as IMCS- PAX-ROMANA we have no reason to stop the amazing work we do, we have many supporters and cheerleaders world over. I learnt that our efforts do not go to waste, we may not always get the feedback and appreciation on our work but that does not mean it is not important. Young people world over are passionate and want the world to become a better place. That is a fact that must continue to feed our passion for the work we do.
I remain humbled by the experience and I intend to keep sharing the ideas and lessons learnt and to continue making our contributions as a movement better.