Statement by Ambassador H.E. Palitha T.B. Kohona
 Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
Special event on
“The Role of Youth in Sustainable Development)
26th September, 2011


First of all, I would like to welcome you to this event and thank the Panelists for their wonderful contributions.  I would like to congratulate the Secretary General, the President of the General Assembly and the Member States for the highly successful UN High Level Meeting on Youth in July this year. It was an unprecedented event and was the beginning, or even the consolidation, of a major UN initiative.  A particular thank you is owed to the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development and all the youth-led organizations.  Your efforts are clearly acknowledged. 

The outcome document of the (UNGA) High-level Meeting on Youth   emphasized “poverty eradication, the promotion of sustained economic growth, sustainable development and full and productive employment and decent work for all."  However it needs emphasis that the Outcome Document calls for the investment in youth in order to achieve sustainable development. There is a crucial connection between the World Program of Action for Youth and the Millennium Development Goals.  In many countries, especially in the South, the youth compose a significant part of the population.  It is vital to make them partners in the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Progress with the MDG’s will benefit the youth, but they also need to be part of the efforts to achieve the MDGs. 

The outcome document underlines the need to fulfill the commitments made on achieving the MDGS as well as supporting the World Programme of Action for Youth. Sri Lanka reaffirms its commitment to support the youth community and develop mutual understanding by ensuring active youth participation as a key element to social integration. Sri Lanka hosted the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations earlier this year.
 
The UN High Level Meeting on Youth requested the UN regional commissions to assist Member States in sharing information on national experiences, lessons learned and good practices. Sri Lanka is looking forward to working with the Regional Commission for Asia and the Pacific in the implementation of the outcome document.  I should mention that Sri Lanka has a free education system that guarantees free state funded education from Kindergarten to University level.  This has ensured a very high literacy level in Sri Lanka which is the envoy of many other developing countries.  Sri Lanka also provides free healthcare from birth to death ensuring a healthy population.  Much more needs to be done and we will work at it. 
 
It is time to look beyond and develop a post-2015 development agenda that keeps ensuring the support to work for and with youth. We need to continue implementing national plans that will enhance the role of youth in achieving sustainable development.
 
Today’s youth will be tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers.  We need to ensure that they arrive at that point adequately equipped. 

In the context of the International Year of Youth, Sri Lanka had been offered to host a UN World Youth Conference, with ministerial level participation, in Sri Lanka in 2014.
 
Sri Lanka encourages Member States to participate with their valuable inputs in order to achieve an effective outcome in 2014. Sri Lanka, would welcome advice from NGOs, civil society, youth-led organizations and Member States.
 
We note that the UN High Level Meeting endorsed increased youth participation in the formulation of development policies.
 
We request the international community to reinvest, rebuild and increase their commitment regarding the role that each Member state has in providing employment to youth. We have to redouble the fight to eradicate poverty, ensure education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV and ensure environmental sustainability.  South-South Cooperation is vital in this regard and lessons learned and valuable experience gained by other countries of the South could serve as ready models for all of us.

In closing I am delighted to see such an enthusiastic attendance today.  You have seen the pictures of Sri Lanka.  May I take this opportunity to encourage you to make Sri Lanka your venue for the 2014 UN Youth Conference. 

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