The United Nation Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth is alarmed at the rate of unemployment in the Pacific region.
Ahamad Alhendawi told the High Level Dialogue on Youth at the Pacific Community (SPC) Conference in Alofi, Niue that 23 percent of young people in this region are unemployed.
“National youth unemployment rates in some countries of the region stand at 50 or 60%.
“This is very alarming. And it also makes the finalization of the Pacific Youth Employment Strategies a top priority. The focus, among others, should be on creating youth-friendly employment services, supporting young entrepreneurs, and establishing quality demand driven education and capacity building opportunities. And all of this should be done with a particular emphasis on most vulnerable and disenfranchised young people,” Ahamad told delegates.
Ahamad has encouraged governments in the region to embody youth-oriented employment services by creating an environment that would allow youth, particularly young women, to compete on an equal setting for the jobs available.
“Young people have the ideas and talent necessary to drive change and excel in a professional environment, but we must invest in them to do so. I am a firm believer in youth entrepreneurship. Research shows that young people in most parts of the world will create more jobs than adults over the next years.
“However, young entrepreneurs often face challenges when setting up and developing their businesses including lack of access to capital and start-up funding, as well as to business development services. And we need to ensure that we create an enabling environment that would allow young entrepreneurs to achieve their full potential,” said Ahamad.
“I am absolutely certain that we have many young people with unique potential and ideas in the Pacific. That is why I urge the representatives of the governments and the international community to do everything within their power to advance the prospects of youth entrepreneurship,” Ahamad told delegates.
Ahamad said the youths are the first generation that can end extreme poverty, but are the last generation that can reverse the worst impact of climate change.
“Imagine how much responsibility this puts on the shoulders of young people today.
“No nation or region is immune to the impacts of climate change. This is particularly true for the Pacific. A region that is heavily affected by cyclones, droughts, floods on regular basis, he stressed.
He said in 2004, a cyclone that hit Niue left a devastating impact on the island nation.
“Throughout the region, climate change is heightening the intensity of extreme weather events, driving sea levels up, and acidifying the oceans.
“As many leaders of the region have voiced, over the coming decades homes of today’s young people in the Pacific is under serious threat. That is why we need policies to further strengthen the role that young people can play in mitigation, adaptation and response and relief mechanisms,” Ahamad explained.
He also welcomed the Pacific regional strategies focusing on integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change into development priorities.
“Being the first of its kind in the world, the strategies recognise youth as agents of change. I call upon governments to expand the engagement of young people in the Pacific in achieving the region’s objectives in responding to and mitigating the impacts of climate change. The forthcoming strategy on climate and disaster resilient development in the Pacific must have a strong focus on youth.
“Young people in the region have an important role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change and have demonstrated this through their initiatives.
“I am determined to raise the voices of young people of the Pacific in Paris, where I will be joining the Conference of Parties of the Climate Change Convention later this month. And my message will be clear: we have no right to fail the young and future generations,” he emphasised.