Created: Thursday, 20 February 2014
UN Secretary-General commends Sri Lanka for hosting the "World Conference on Youth - 2014
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon commended Sri Lanka’s initiative to host the World Conference on Youth (WCY) in May 2014 - the first ever global youth conference in Asia. The WCY will seek to mainstream youth concerns in the post-2015 development agenda.
He made this remarks when a Sri Lankan delegation led by the Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development Hon. Dullas Alahapperuma called him at the UN Headquarters in New York on 18th February (Tuesday) to hand over the invitation of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa inviting him to the World Conference on Youth in Colombo in May 2014.
The Secretary General emphasized that youth are one of his key priorities in the programme that he had outlined at the commencement of his second term. “More than half the world’s population is under the age of 25, so this is a “youth world”, the UNSG said. He highlighted the urgency of resolving the huge burden of unemployment and providing political and economic opportunities to youth. “I am impressed by what Sri Lanka has been doing for the advancement of the youth”. He recalled the comments of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay of the impressive success of the Youth Parliament of Sri Lanka.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon thanked the President of Sri Lanka for the invitation and said that he would make every effort to be in Colombo for this unique event despite his busy schedules.
Minister Alahapperuma expressed his gratitude for the continued assistance given by the UN system and the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth with regard to the arrangements for the Colombo Conference. “As a nation, we believe that the Youth Conference will help in rebuilding the nation. The ‘Colombo Youth Action Plan’ – the outcome of the Conference which will be jointly produced by the youth and the policymakers would serve as a guideline to meet youth aspirations in many multilateral processes in the post-2015 era. This action plan will cover seven fundamental issues and seven thematic areas that have been recognized as vital for youth engagement in the global development agenda", he added.
Ambassador Dr. Palitha Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, said that, “youth are today’s concern, not tomorrow's. They contribute to electing governments and in the formulation of national policies. Their concerns and aspirations could be addressed only by recognizing their input to policy-making and empowering them. That is why the Government of Sri Lanka has set up a task force of 20 global young leaders to prepare the key components of the conference arrangement”.
Minister Alahapperuma presented the UNSG with copies of the recently launched “Youth Policy of Sri Lanka” and the publication on “Youth and Development: Realizing the Millennium Development Goals for Sri Lankan Youth”. Mr. Lalith Piyum Perera, Chairman/Director General of the National Youth Services Council (NYalso spoke about the successful conclusion of the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Hambantota, Sri Lanka last November.
Mr. Christopher Dekki and Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake – Members of the International Youth Task Force for the conference - explained the ongoing logistics arrangements for the 1,500 delegates expected to attend the conference and the inclusive multi-stakeholder consultations on the draft outcome document.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon further said that he placed youth at the center of the UN agenda for the first time by appointing an Envoy on Youth and creating a system-wide action plan on youth and an inter-agency network on youth. UN Volunteers, he said, play a key role in many aspects and recalled how thousand so of volunteers were active at the Sochi Olympics.
Accompanying with the Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development was Ambassador Dr. Palitha Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York, Mr. Lalith Piyum Perera, Chairman/Director General of the National Youth Services Council and Mr. Waruna Sri Dhanapala, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN and IYTF members – Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake (Third Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka) and Mr. Christopher Dekki (IMCS-Pax Romana-US and Syria).