In an effort to bring the United Nations closer to young people, the Youth Dialogue welcomed young voices through interactive panel discussions and open mic where youth representatives of diverse backgrounds shared their ideas, needs and concerns on education, employment, and the prevention of radicalization and extremism.
Participants agreed that today’s young people are the SDG generation as the world cannot achieve the 2030 Agenda without engaging them in the decision making and implementation processes in a structural, meaningful and inclusive manner. More attention should be given in particular to young women and girls, children and young people on the move, young people with disabilities, young people affected by conflicts, among others.
Quality and inclusive education for all is key to fully realize everybody’s potential, to become active global citizens, and to prevent radicalization and violent extremism. It is important to adapt education and skills training to the local context, with a stronger focus on the blue and green economic development. Besides skills for the future job market, it is equally important to foster the soft skills of young people, including empathy, social values, and citizenship skills, which could work hand in hand with academic education.
In her video message to the participants, Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, referred to the youth as “the present and the future” and reiterated UNESCO’s mandate. She confirmed that “education is the bedrock and one of the most transformational forces for eradicating poverty, mitigating climate change, and coping with the profound shifts driven by accelerating globalization and the fourth Industrial Revolution”. She emphasized that education is not only about creating “workers of the future”, but also about creating “global citizens of the future”, who “respect cultural diversity, care for the planet, and defend the development of human values”. She concluded with UNESCO’s commitment to “working with young people to create better education and employment opportunities and to build harmonious resilient societies”.
Ms. Victoria Ibiwoye addressed the audience as the youth representative of the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee, a global coordination platform hosted by UNESCO that monitors the progress towards SDG4 with young people as implementing partners. Highlighting education’s power as “a great equalizer and a solution to lasting peace”, she called for putting the right to education at the centre of decision making processes. Facing the new and changing job market, she said, it is crucial for the education to equip young people with soft skills, including critical thinking, complex problem solving, media literacy, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, as embedded in the Target 4.7 of SDG 4.