By Roy Mabasa
A National Youth Commission (NYC) official has showcased the role of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in the Philippines as a mechanism to promote youth empowerment before the recent 8th Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
“Even before engaging the youth in governance became fashionable and necessary, and long before the adoption of Goal 16, the Philippines has paved the way for youth participation in governance and in the policymaking process through its ‘Sangguniang Kabataan’ (SK or Youth Council),” NYC Assistant Secretary Paul Anthony Pangilinan in a speech he delivered during the ECOSOC forum.
Pangilinan stated that SK officials are elected to local government positions and have a direct hand in formulating and advocating policies and programs that directly affect and empower the youth.
Under the country’s Youth Development Plan 2017-2022, he said the Philippine government will continue to engage the youth, “recognizing that their meaningful participation and partnership are essential in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Attended by more than 1,000 young leaders and advocates, the international youth leaders issued a statement at the end of the two-day event calling on the global community to deliver on their promise of a future that is sustainable, safe and equitable.
They voiced alarm that 11 years before the 2030 deadline, progress on the SDGs remains slow, including on the issue of climate change, which they described as the “greatest challenge of the world of today and tomorrow.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the youth “to keep up the pressure” in the lead-up to the Climate and SDG Summits in September this year.
“It is your future, your livelihoods, your freedom, your security, your environment. You do not, and you must not take no for an answer,” the UN chief said.
According to the ECOSOC, there are 1.2 billion young people today between the ages of 15 and 24, making up 16 percent of the global population. Most live in developing countries. Millions do not have access to quality education, decent work or other opportunities. By 2030, 1.9 billion young people are projected to turn 15 and will need skills, jobs and livelihoods to realize their full potential and lead meaningful lives.
Co-hosted by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the ECOSOC Youth Forum is the largest annual gathering of young people at the United Nations.