Sri Lanka: 1 million vote pledge and ‘Colombo Declaration on Youth’

Last year, Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development of Sri Lanka, Dulles Alahapperuma pledged up to 1 million votes in the MY World Survey. Currently, Sri Lanka tops the MY World Survey country list with 488593 votes, and more are gathered every week.  As such, they are responsible for 23.1% of the total votes casted on the MY World Survey. In an unprecedented move, almost 100% of all the votes have been cast by young people between the ages 16 and 30.  Sri Lanka’s commitment to the MY World survey and empowering youth culminated at the World Conference on Youth where many activities were planned to further promote the survey.

Director of the UN Millennium Campaign, Corinne Woods, via twitter said that she is “amazed by the Sri Lankan governments mobilization of youth for My World 2015.”

The top six priorities are reflected by youth in Sri Lanka thus far are “A good education,” “Better healthcare,” “An honest and responsive government,” “Access to clean water and santiation,” “Affordable and nutritious food,” and “Protection against crime and violence.”

From 6-10 May, 2014 participants gathered in Sri Lanka at the World Conference on Youth 2014 to explore mechanisms of mainstreaming youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Participants included Ministers responsible for youth, young people, government representatives, UN Agencies, youth-led organizations, non-governmental organizations and other development partners. This conference marks the first time a Conference on World Youth has been held in Asia, and the first time the UN President of the General Assembly attended the World Youth Conference.

The Conference brought together around 1500 participants, half were young people and included a number of people from marginalized backgrounds, making the conference one of the most well represented youth events at the global level. It began with an opening ceremony with speakers such as the Co-Chair of the National Steering Committee of WYC 2014, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, and the President of the General Assembly. The the rest of the conference’s agenda for the four days comprised of roundtable, parallel workshops and exhibitions as well as break out discussion sessions, and regional meetings.

Volunteers manned the MY World booth, collecting offline ballots and answering questions. The MY World Global Tour also attended, using the event as a great opportunity to form partnerships with youth from many countries.

Voters Beatrice voting Will Saige & Ravi

The final product of the Conference was a joint outcome document between the states and youth called the “Colombo Declaration on Youth: Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Agenda.” This declaration came to fruition as a result of deliberations among global youth and Ministers responsible for youth and civil society. As demonstrated in the recommendations of the Declaration, issues were similar across numerous countries with all the youth representatives. Young men and boys held a strong presence for gender equality. Yet another first for this conference, the outcome declaration is the first inter-generational youth statement. President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka said:  “I am proud to state that the key vehicle possessed by us in building the Sri Lankan nation as a modern country is our creative youth leadership.” The next conference will be held in Nigeria in 2018.

This declaration included recommended actions for:

  • Inclusive Youth Led-Development
  • Poverty Eradication and Food and Nutrition Security
  • Realizing Equal Access to Quality Education
  • Promoting Healthy Lives and Access to quality Health Care
  • Full Employment and Entrepreneurship
  • Gender Equality
  • Ending Systemic Inequalities
  • Empowering Marginalized Youth emphasizing the Most at Risk Young People
  • Ensuring Inclusive Recreation, Sport and Culture
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Youth Centered Urbanization
  • Realizing Peace, Reconciliation and Ending Violence
  • Achieving Good Governance and Accountability
  • Youth Rights
  • Inclusive Youth Participation

On 3 June, 2014, Minister Dulles hand delivered a copy of the Declaration to President John Ashe. He also recieved a copy of the MY World Youth report, prepared and disseminated at the conference.

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For more information:

Blog compiled by Natalie Gardner, MY World Global Youth Advocate

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