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The round table discussion on “Your world, your voice – youth engagement in setting the global development agenda” which took place on 13 March, 2014 at Juridicum of the University of Vienna was organized by UNIS Vienna in cooperation with ACUNS Vienna and the University of Vienna .

We would like to thank our speakers, supporters, and our colleagues from Youth Education Ambassadors (YEA) for making this discussion a success.

The following are the main points from the speakers:

Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth:

In 2014, as we approach the final year of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) we must think about the next goals for the post-2015 agenda. Everyone agrees that youth play an important role especially since they represent about half of the world’s thereby, such a large number cannot be neglected. We must include youth more in the development agenda. Regarding the post 2014 agenda, it is a shame to accept the world as it is now. For example, there are more than 1.5 million people living in conflict zones, more than 1 billion people live in extreme poverty, the environment is continuously getting worse and many qualified people are unemployed. We have to change it, as there is no ‘planet B’. Two important points for the Post-2015 Agenda is that young people need more investment, not support, and more political participation is needed We need to develop a contract for the world we want to live in because contracts are binding have responsibilities and rules. It is possible to eradicate extreme poverty from this planet by the year 2030 (a somewhat idealistic view, but it is possible if everybody participates). Overall, as young people we must care about global issues, because it is OUR future.

The UN plays a very important role as many norms we have today are the result of UN policies in the past. (e.g.: more than 150 countries have youth policies now). Some things still have to be changed, e.g.: in some countries you need to be over 30 in order to create a youth organization.

Matteo Landi, United Nations Industrial Development (UNIDO):

We work on issues of youth unemployment, how to combat it and what young people can do in order to solve this problem. The UN system works with and for young people inclusively. The system wide action plan deals with youth unemployment, education and health issues. Most importantly the action plan aims to build skills in order to get young people ready to find jobs. The UN works with private sector to see what is demanded.

Christina Unterberger, Austrian National Youth Council:

The right attitude and relationship with youth are needed. Participation is a process, not only an event. Overall according to Christina Unterberger, the most important factor is that more inclusive organizations that focus on youth participation at the local level are needed.

Andreas Schneider, Austrian Ministry of Family Affairs:

Working with the UN on youth issues at a European and international level, approaching member states to include youth more is important. Some of the main areas to focus on: voting age and youth participation in decision making process.

By Sophie Hammer