Youth Participation – the power of young people towards SDGs achievements
Vietnamese young people are the key agents for change and innovation towards the achievements of sustainability, resilience and leaving no one behind.
“Vietnamese young people are the key agents for change and innovation towards the achievements of sustainability, resilience and leaving no one behind” is the message, which was sent out to young people from all walks of life in Vietnam at the celebration of the International Youth Day 2021. It was organized jointly by the United Nations in Viet Nam and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union on 12 August 2021.
Under the theme: “Youth participation: The power of young people towards SDGs achievement”, Vietnamese young people joined a virtual discussion on the implementation of the 2020 Youth Law and young people’s meaningful participation and contributions to the national sustainable development process, regardless of sex, disabilities, social and economic status, location, ethnic background or sexual orientation.
Live-streamed at the fan-pages of the UN in Vietnam and the HCM Communist Youth Union, the International Youth Day 2021 acknowledged the contributions of young volunteers and activists who are pushing for positive change, and amplified young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.
The young participants also shared their views on the 2020 Youth Law, the rights and responsibilities of all young people including vulnerable groups of youth as well as obligations of the responsible entities to meet their rights. They strongly confirmed that Vietnamese young people including vulnerable groups of youth, for example ethnic minority youth, young migrant workers, young people with disabilities, young LGBTQIA+ and young people aged 16-18 are the key agents for change and innovation towards the achievements of sustainability, resilience and leaving no one behind.
H’Hen Niê, Miss Universe Vietnam 2017, a dynamic and energetic young volunteer, shared her experience when providing support to doctors and nurses as well as local people during the COVID-19 social distancing measures: “I voluntarily join the city’s young artists and people to support the doctors and nurses and the communities. I want to make some modest contributions to the fight against COVID-19. I think I have changed a lot these days. At this moment, I consider myself a volunteer. I’m neither a Miss Universe nor a celebrity. I perform the tasks wholeheartedly no matter how hard it is. Compared to what the health workers are doing now, my hardship is nothing. I call on all young people to think positively and find innovative ways to support our communities, be it a physical or a spiritual contribution. Let us unite and together we will win in the fight against COVID-19 and together we will contribute to the sustainable development of our communities and our country as a whole.”
In his opening speech, Mr. Nguyen Tuong Lam, the Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union confirmed that the power of young people and their actions are the nation’s treasures. He said: “The youth is a large social force, one of the most important elements determining the future and the destiny of the nation. Young people are the major force in many areas, who are responsible for many works that require sacrifice, hardship, good health and innovation. In the most vibrant ages physically and psychologically, young people are always dynamic and creative, with strong self-assertion.”
Ms. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative for Vietnam and Chair of the UN Thematic Group for Adolescents and Youth in Viet Nam, reaffirmed in her opening speech that young people’s unique and crucial roles in policy and decision-making processes at local, national, regional and international levels.
She said: “The United Nations in Viet Nam acknowledges the efforts of the Government in providing adolescents and youth with opportunities to design, participate in and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country. The approval of the revised Youth Law by Vietnam’s National Assembly during its 14th session in June 2020 is one of the greatest strides for Viet Nam to ensure young people’s roles, responsibilities and rights in the national development process. The Youth Law explains young people’s participation; states clear responsibilities of the Government; the Viet Nam National Youth Committee and other organizations, and ensures the allocation of the state budget for the implementation of the Youth Law. Moreover, specific policies to support young people from ethnic minorities and those aged 16 to 18 were included in the policy provisions.”
Youth engagement is important because in every single thematic area of policies that need to be made, there are always ways to incorporate youth issues and reflect voices of young people. This is particularly critical when Viet Nam is currently benefiting from the demographic window of opportunity called “demographic bonus,” in which the country has the largest number of young people in its history. The right investment in young people is a must to accelerate socio-economic growth of Viet Nam.