22 September 2010

1.8 Billion Strong: Young People Driving the MDGs

“We are 1.8 billion and we are ready to get involved. We are not just resources, we are partners and we are ready to make a significant contribution to the MDGs,” said Samuel Kissi, a youth activist from Ghana. He called for more involvement in young people in national poverty reduction strategies at a panel entitled ‘1.8 Billion Strong: Young People Driving the MDGs’, held today in conjunction with the Millennium Development Review Summit. The panel was organized by UNFPA, the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Inter-Agency Network for Youth Development and the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations.

The panelists for the event, which was moderated by Maria Antonieta Alcalde, IPPF, included Thoraya Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director; Gill Greer, Director-General IPPF; Michael Cashman, European Member of Parliament: and Priscilla Vera Hernandez, Director General, Mexican Institute of Youth.

In her remarks, Ms.Obaid observed that there is a wide gap between young people’s reality and the MDG targets, and she stressed the importance of investing in young people now, as a means to achieving the MDGs by 2015. "One thing we know is certain," she said. "If we do not invest in young people, it will be to the peril of the whole society."

The event also launched the new edition of "The Case for Investing in Young People," a report commissioned by UNFPA, which gives concrete arguments supported by evidence, on why young people and their issues must be effectively addressed in development processes including national poverty reduction strategies.

Although the world’s 1.8 billion young people represent a powerful force for development, they are largely missing in the Millennium Development Goals, noted Ms. Greer. “Where are young people in the discourse? Where are they in the documents?” she asked, noting that young people are mentioned only a couple of times in the MDG Review Outcome Document.

One place they are mentioned is in a publication released in conjunction with the MDG Summit that tracks progress on MDG 5 indicators, including teen pregnancy, and finds that gaps in reproductive health care are wide and widening.