By Rudina Vojvoda
NEW YORK, 25 February 2013 – On 15 February 2013, the newly appointed Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, was sworn in at United Nations (UN) headquarters. A native of Jordan, the 29-year-old Alehndawi comes to this position with extensive experience working on youth issues at the local, regional and international level. On his second day in this new position, Mr. Alehndawi spoke with UNICEF’s podcast moderator Femi Oke about his role and the post-2015 development agenda.
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Youth to fully participate in formulating the post 2015 development agenda
The Secretary-General has identified “working with and for women and young people” as a major focus in his five-year action agenda. In this context and as the Envoy on Youth, Mr. Alhendawi will work to address the needs of young people all over the world. Mr. Alhendawi is very excited at the opportunity of working with young people in this capacity, making sure that they understand the UN, how to participate and influence its programs and vice versa. “I will be acting as a bridge for young people to have their voice heard at the UN system…this is a golden moment for development in general and for young people to influence the new development framework, ” he said.
Mr. Alhendawi explained that part of his work is to ensure that efficient and effective mechanisms are put in place to encourage youth participation in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Mr. Alhendawi emphasised the importance of youth being full partners in implementing the MDGs and not just beneficiaries.
He believes that having young people as true partners in designing UN programs at the country level will not only lead to better programs but will also put young people at the heart of the development agenda. “This is very important and this is very concrete, “ said Mr. Alhendawi adding that he will work to promote similar structures such as the inter-agency network on youth development where focal points from all the different agencies work together on youth issues. “I am looking with a great hope to partner with youth organizations and to have their voices here,” said Mr. Alhendawi.
Over the last few years, the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents have played a crucial role as agents of change, but the question remains on how well decision makers are listening to the voices of these youth.
For Mr. Alhendawi the success of any sound policy depends on its ability to include all segments of the population in its formulation and implementation. “We can’t ask people to own something if they are not part of developing it,” said Mr. Alhendawi. He added that in his new role, he will work to ensure that young people are fully participating in formulating the post 2015 development agenda. “If they are partners in setting the agenda then they would own it, [and] become more active in implementing this agenda.”
Mr. Alhendawi noted that very soon he will be able to share his plans in his new mandate as the Envoy on Youth with everyone.