Mr Gadgil met the Secreatry-General on the 7th of February. The goal was to discuss how the UN can increase their focus on youth in the years to come. Also participating was Mr Ronan Farrow from the US State Department and Mr Joan Clos, the leader of UN-Habitat, which is working with issues such as youth and urbanization. In January, the Secretary-General mentioned youth as one of the most important focus areas for the UN in the next five years. This corresponded with the recommendations Ban Ki-moon received on a Norwegian-backed UN Habitat meeting on youth in Oslo in December last year (read more about the meeting here), where both Gadgil and Farrow attended.
Ban Ki-moon invited both Gadgil and Farrow together with UN-Habitat, to listen to their advices on how the UN should engage youth in the future. During the meeting Gadgil congratulated the Secretary-General on his commitment to youth, and emphasized Norway’s efforts and tradition in including young people in the UN's work.
- I underlined the importance of getting young people politically active, so that they can control their own future. It is important that we start working on this straight away, because young people are impatient and demand results, said Gadgil.
Among the measures discussed were Bans Ki-moons plan to appoint a special advisor who can focus exclusively on issues relating to young people, and coordinating the international work on youth issues through various UN funds and programs. The Secretary General also pointed out how the actions and initiatives from young people have proved themselves most effective during the past year, including movements in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and the USA.
Gadgil saw the initiative from the UN as very promising, and was optimistic after meeting with Ban Ki-moon.
A driving force
- Norway has been a driving force for youth participation in the UN for the past 40 years, but we still have things to learn. The Secretary General has clearly understood that both the UN and others have to change the way they work. The fact that the Secretary-General now says he is willing to focus on youth is a major step in the right direction, said Gadgil.
Efforts to engage young people continue. Already in mid-March, the Norwegian-sponsored United Nations conference "Youth 21: Building for change" will be held in Nairobi, Kenya.