UNDP Resident Representative, Frode Mauring keynote speech at the Dubai Forum for Government Best PracticesOct 25, 2016
Frode Mauring, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. to the United Arab Emirates -also covering the states of Oman and Qatar- Speech at the Dubai Forum for Government Best Practices: “Youth Government, Future Government”
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
It is my pleasure to be a part of this year’s edition of the Dubai Forum for Government Best Practices. As in previous years, I am certain this space will serve as an effective knowledge sharing platform and that it will bridge partnerships for innovative approaches and collaborations.
This year’s focus on youth and their involvement in government couldn’t be more timely. Our planet has never been so young, with 1.8 billion young women and men being the most connected, the most outspoken and the most open-minded generation the world has ever seen.
According to this year’s World Youth Report on Youth Civic Engagement, compiled by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs; youth participation and representation in institutional political processes and policy-making around the world is low.
The report draws a conclusion that in all dimensions of civic engagement; be it economic, community or political, youth engagement in society relies on the active participation and commitment of Governments. While young people need to play a central role in addressing issues that affect them, they cannot tackle the multitude of challenges alone, particularly in the economic and employment areas.
In the United Arab Emirates youth represent 42% of the national population. It is undoubtedly a valuable asset that is being empowered to develop its potential and to translate it into tangible contributions to their communities and their society – not least for creativity, renewal and innovation.
With initiatives such as the establishment of an Emirates Youth Council and the recently launched National Agenda for Youth, it is clear that within the vision of the UAE, the well-being and involvement of young men and women is at the core its strategies.
Like the UAE, the United Nations has long recognized that young people are key agents for development, social change, economic growth and technological innovation. They are vital stakeholders to drive the sustainable development agenda forward in all countries.
Organizations and networks of young people have emerged at the local, national, regional and global levels, demonstrating their capacity for advocacy, communication and negotiation, and their commitment to challenging the status quo.
Participation in policy and decision-making processes is a key priority area of the UN agenda on youth. We have witnessed that in instances where youth are excluded by decision makers, the detriment unfortunately comes directly to them and the generations to come.
UNDP recognizes the need to support young men and women in understanding their rights and the channels through which they may exercise them and contribute to decision-making processes that impact their lives. Bringing forward creativity and innovative dynamism, youth have the capacity to contribute to important changes in political systems.
My previous assignment with UNDP was in the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People. There we worked in an environment in which exclusion and low levels of civic and political participation increased the likelihood of political violence.
To lessen this possibility, UNDP led a project that trained university councils and engaged with a Palestinian Youth NGO, to develop a stronger culture of dialogue among their youth members to better influence Palestinian political and social leadership.
UNDP targeted seven student University councils across Palestine with the aim to promote their role in enhancing a culture of dialogue which political parties have failed to do. This work included enhancing capacities of student council members to articulate, effectively communicate and persuasively argue issues that affect them as active individuals and engaged citizens. Special attention was given to reinforcing the role of young Palestinian women in political leadership.
Additionally, to further increase awareness of democratic processes in the State of Palestine, UNDP led the Palestinian Youth Legislative Council, a mock parliament that simulates the role of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
This initiative allowed more than 23,000 young people--39 percent of whom were women—to vote, and 132 participants were elected members of the Youth Legislative Council.
Through the initiative, young people not only learned how to make their voices heard about issues that affect their lives, but also took part in training that one day – may help them to become the country’s future leaders.
Not much further away, in Lebanon, UNDP has also led the Lebanese Parliamentary Internship Programme, which offers graduates a real opportunity to participate in public policy making. This programme provides them with a training opportunity on public policy making tools; and introduces them to the legislative and oversight functions of the Parliament.
As with adults, however, civic participation is not an end in itself; as a procedural right, it represents the means through which youth may take part in and influence processes, decisions and activities in order to influence outcomes and realize their rights.
Enhancing youth engagement in political and decision-making processes is beneficial for a solid and resilient governance system and serves as a model for positive civic action. It leads to better decisions and outcomes and also promotes the well-being and development of young people.
However, youth civic engagement is not an easy task. It needs sustained and coordinated efforts from all sectors at local and federal level. The great strides the UAE has taken in this respect are all in the path towards enabling one of the most essential elements in sustainable development: our youth.
In my capacity as the UNDP representative, I wish to reiterate our readiness to work hand in hand with you and your reputable institutions. Through our global network of talented experts, we can facilitate innovation and knowledge based advancements to support fulfilling the vision of the UAE.Contact information