“We want to let the world know that we are not only future but we are present. We are here and now”

Syed Mahmood Kazmi reports from the United Nations Youth Assembly and the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses UN Youth Assembly


UN Youth Assembly, August 10-12

It was a great honour for me to attend the Youth Assembly, where speakers called for intergenerational partnership to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

With a backdrop of 600 million youth in conflict zones and fragile states, 70 million children out of school and a third of youth unemployed or under-employed, youth themselves were coming up with solutions to the most important issues of the world.

We looked at climate change, extreme poverty, peace and justice and – most importantly – education. The youth of today want to have every child enrolled and get a quality education at school.

The energy of youth is always a great resource to have for the prosperity of our planet. We also want to let the world know that we are not only future but we are present. We are here and now.

I also posted this message of love, peace and harmony on my Facebook page.

This sentiment was echoed by Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, who recently said: “Young people everywhere can help realise the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our global plan for people, the planet and prosperity.

“When we steadily support the world’s youth, they can create a safer, more just and more sustainable future for generations to come.”

High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, July 11-20

The UN released the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016 to provide an account of where we are on the global goals adopted by world leaders at the UN last year.

The report comes as delegates and ministers from around the world gathered for the first High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development since the launch of the SDGs.

I was honoured to participate in this highly esteemed forum – organised by the Office of the UN Youth Envoy, UNDP, Major Group on Youth and Children and the Kingdom of Netherlands Mission to the United Nations.

I was able to reflect on the impressive work being done by the youth around the globe, steering the global goals agenda and impacting communities locally and globally.

UN Youth Envoy Ahmed Ahlendawi noted that, “we measure what we treasure. We want half of the world’s population to be part of the implementation. What we have is the solution.

“Youth are the solutions of the SDGs because of their numbers, potentials, engagement in art, industries, business and every other segment of life. Youth are at the forefront. Now we need to define not what should be done but how we are going to do it?”

Syed Mahmood Kazmi at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development with education campaigner Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin


He was impressed by the work of youth around the globe. He said three things need to be done:

  1. Young people must come on board as implementers and partners
  2. We have to measure the youth-related targets and indicators
  3. We need to feature more young leaders to celebrate their activism every year

I shared my views about the 62 million children who are out of school. We must do more to enroll them in school. It’s not their future. It’s our future. The solutions must be combined.

According to the latest data, 263 million children and youth are still out of school. Turkey has taken in more Syrian refugee children than any other country – more than 700,000 of them. But 400,000 of them are still out of school and funds are needed urgently to get them into the education system when the new school year starts in September.

There are 600 million young people in the conflict zones and fragile situations. From Kashmir to Palestine, Syria to Iraq, Ukraine to Egypt – we see the conflicts everywhere.

We are not just victims but we are also driving our communities out from the wars and still lighting the candle of hope and saving it from the storms of violence.

The world needs to invest more in youth. We are the one who will drive us out of the crisis.

It takes a simple thought-provoking action – challenging the norms and trends to see youth as victims or perpetrators only and joining hands in stopping the waste of potential of billions of youth around the globe.