May 14, 2009, 6:37 AM
The first World Youth Meeting for a sustainable future, was from 19th – 21st January 2010, held in Italy, attended by participants drawn from 90 countries, including The Gambia’s Banjul Youth Parliament Speaker.
The forum brought together 500 youth delegates from 90 countries, together with about 1000 youth participants and 100 decision-makers and leaders from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, representing governments, political, science, culture, international organisations, media, civil society and the private sectors, aimed at defining an action plan and a development agenda for world's young people.
The Gambia was represented by Hon. Ousman Conteh, the Speaker of the Banjul Youth Parliament of the National Youth Parliament of The Gambia (NYP), who also doubles as the Programme Officer of NYP.
Mr. Conteh was invited by the Italian government, the Apulia Regional Government and the National Agency for Youth in Italy of the European Youth in Action Program, as a youth delegate to join several other dozens of young people around the world. The Youth Speaker returned to Banjul on Sunday 24th January 2010.
Speaking to this reporter shortly after his arrival, Hon. Conteh hailed the organisers for given him the opportunity to participate in the high-profile youth gathering.
"The gathering launched the NMC programme, a middle-term initiative that promotes sustainable development and the participation of young people in decision-making at both global and local levels," he said.
He further disclosed that the meeting discussed, among other things, civic engagement, education, employment, environment, human safety and development, and the potential of tackling them through policy initiatives, campaigns, and youth led actions mainly at local level.
The forum is in line with the mission and vision of the National Youth Parliament of The Gambia, thus seeking to establish a global-local environment where young people, policy-makers, international organisations, private sector, civil society and media can collaborate to effectively increase the rate of global change towards sustainability, through youth participation and influence in decision-making processes, says Hon. Conteh.
According to him, young people are the largest percentage of world population and will be the majority of voters, consumers, educators, social actors and decision-makers for the next three decades. These young citizens, he added, are the main stakeholders for a sustainable future, yet they are underrepresented when policies are designed and implemented.
"To foster change young people must be included in decision-making processes. They are essential for any change towards a better future for all," he concluded.