Historic Bhubaneswar Youth Declaration 2017 has been passed at the First South Asian Youth Summit held in Bhubaneswar City, India from 17 – 20 September by World leaders to address key issues facing the youth of South Asian countries such as unemployment and corruption.
The summit was organized to bring together young people in the region in order to address issues that impact youth in this part of the world and also to strengthen and tightening the existing relationships amongst the South-Asian nations.
It was formulated Bhubaneswar Youth Declaration by identifying common issues and problems of the regions to empower the youth and to facilitate effective partnerships with youth, youth-led organizations and youth movements to further strengthen inclusive youth participation in the decision-making processes and implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and also to contribute to the establishment of a permanent youth engagement mechanism that ensures consistent follow- up with young people and further boosts their participation and partnership in the implementation of the SDGs at national, regional and global levels and passed by the a drafting committee, consisting of young delegates from all participating countries, last Wednesday, September 20.
One of the biggest concerns raised was the issue of unemployment, especially among youth. The Bhubaneswar Youth Declaration recommends equipping the youth with entrepreneurship and leadership skills and providing financial concessions so that youths are self-employed, and become job creators rather than job seekers.
It also recommends supporting youth at risk and creating equal opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalized youths, a skill-based education system, and vocational training.
Another key issue noted was the issue of corruption and nepotism. The Bhubaneswar Youth Declaration notes that corruption and nepotism was the single biggest obstacle to equal opportunity in South Asian countries.
It recommends more active involvement by anti-corruption bureaus, awareness, stricter penalties and more transparency within the system.
The initiative like Smart Campus Cloud Network (SCCN) which digitally connects the university and college campuses and supported by UNESCO has been recommended as an appropriate cloud platform for enhancing the connectivity for the purpose of practical contribution to SDGs through hands-on activities within the campuses to solve the troubling concern about lack of connectivity among youth due to lack of means to outreach.
Inequality and discrimination based on factors such as sex, caste, class or race was also noted as a key issue. The Declaration states that not all youths have equal access to education, employment, facilities and resources necessary for youth development.
The Declaration recommends that all authorities ensure youths are provided fair and just opportunity irrespective of sex, caste, class or race. It also recommends educating people, especially young children on discrimination.
Other issues noted in the Declaration are; migration from rural areas to cities, damage to ecology, preservation of culture of South Asian countries and civic participation.
At the end of the declaration, delegates and the government representatives including other participants of the Bhubaneswar Summit agree to work and ensure that the proposed recommendation shall be effectively implemented to achieve the goal of sustainable youth development and also to review and evaluation of the policies time to time and ensure the effective implementation of the youth policies, Chairman of the International Youth Committee (IYC), Dr. KK Singh said.
The 4 days long Summit was attended by various foreign Youth Ministers, Director Generals of Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports of all of South Asian countries, top UN officials, academicians, Nobel laureates, Iconic lady like Irom Sharmila, 450 youth leaders from over 61 countries including SAARC Countries, etc.
Various prestigious awards were also distributed during the Official Closing Ceremony. Global Youth Award 2017 & Best Ambassador Award 2017 won by Ms Aishath Rafiyya of Maldives, People Choice Leader Award 2017 by Mr. Bikram Nayak of India, Best Participant Award 2017 by Ms. Xu Le of China, Best Speaker Award 2017 by Ms. SK Kanta Reze of Bangladesh, Best Action Plan Award 2017 by Government of Sri Lanka, prestigious Best Youth Minister Award 2017 by Dr. Biren Sikder, Minister of Youth & Sports, Government of Bangladesh, Best Volunteer Award 2017 to Ms. Puja Sinha and Mr. Sangram Mishra and IYC Lifetime Achievement Award 2017 to Prof. Chandan Ghosh of National Institute of Disaster Management, Government of India. National Anthems of respective countries were also played to each individual as a mark of respect and honor.
Finally, Colombo City, Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka declared as the next host city of 2nd South Asian Youth Summit 2018. Later, as per protocol of International Youth Committee (IYC), the IYC official flag was handed over to Dr. K.A.S. Keeregala, Director General of Department of Youth Affairs & Sports, Ministry of National Policies & economic Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka by IYC Chairman, Dr. KK Singh with a Guard of Salute followed by Sri Lanka cultural programs.