By Byron Mutingwende
Zimbabwe’s United Nations Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli has said that it is important to mobilise the voices of the youths who should play an active role in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Parajuli made the remarks at Junior Chamber International’s (JCI) 2017 Go4Gold Opening Night Ceremony event held at the Meikles Hotel last Friday.
“It gives me a great pleasure to be here with you to celebrate the achievements of the Junior Chamber International and share views on how best we can mobilize the Zimbabwean youth as an active voice to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” Parajuli said.
JCI seeks to empower young people for positive change in the communities and the country at large. The UN is working hard for the overall success of the SDGs and this depends on youth engagement because they have the capacity to identify and challenge existing power structures and barriers to change, and to expose contradictions and biases as well as the power to act and mobilise others. Youth activism is on the rise the world over, bolstered by broader connectivity and access to social media.
Parajuli said that, outside the international development sector, few people are aware that world leaders have come to a historic, far-reaching agreement to end poverty, hunger, inequality, and to ensure justice, rule of law, democracy and environmental sustainability for all by 2030.
“Young people must be at the heart of communicating the Sustainable Development Agenda to their peers and communities at the local level, as well as national levels and beyond. The United Nations engages young people at all levels including globally through the office of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Youth. In this regard, for partnerships, particularly on the Sustainable Development Goals my office is always at your disposal to engage with the youth of Zimbabwe.”
The senior UN official said that cognisant of the power of youth, the United Nations in Zimbabwe in 2016 alone has so far reached over 30,000 Zimbabwean youth on SDGs advocacy though public lectures, roundtable discussions, providing training of trainers and through the Model UN. Through the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework, the UN with generous support from donors has been delivering development support worth $400 million per year in the areas of Food and Nutrition; Social Services; HIV and AIDS; Poverty Reduction; Governance and human rights, and Gender Equality.
In addition to the United Nations in Zimbabwe support to development programmes, in response to the El Nino induced severe drought that hit the country, the UN put together a humanitarian response plan with a total requirement of $352 million for April 2016 – March 2017. Of the total requirement with the generous support from development and humanitarian partners, over $215 million has been committed to support 3.1 million drought affected population at the peak of the hunger season. In that regard, there is a need to work with young people for the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.