Yesterday, Uganda joined the rest of the world to celebrate International Youth Day. This year the day was observed under the theme, Transforming food systems: Youth innovation for human and planetary health.
The United Nations points out that this theme was aimed at highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.
In 1999, the United Nations decided to commemorate the day based on a recommendation made by the world conference of ministers responsible for youth in Lisbon to the UN General Assembly.
In his message of observance of the day, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres said, “Young people are on the frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all and this year’s Youth Day highlights solutions developed by young innovators to address challenges to our food systems. They are tackling inequities in food security, biodiversity loss, threats to our environment and much more”. He urged everyone to guarantee young people a seat at the table in building a world based on inclusive, fair, and sustainable development for all.
According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics, more than 70 per cent of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30, this points to the urgent need to empower youth to thrive at their highest potential possible and also for decisions to be made with them in mind.
It is common place for young people to be left out when major decisions are made or for them to be relegated to the sidelines as accessories or cheerleaders to those deemed more experienced and financially able.
This shouldn’t be the case. Young people should be accorded space to voice their concerns and also enabled to thrive. They must be included. Let us invest in our young people, only then can we be assured of a productive and sustainable future and long-term development.
In line with the theme of transforming food systems, Ms Elsie Attafuah, the UNDP resident representative in her message for the day lists incentives needed to be provided for the youth to continue contributing to food production storage and processing that is nature positive, healthy and nutritious such as increasing access to water for production, improving farm practices and technologies, and innovations.
These are only a few of the recommendations that must be considered to enhance and develop the untapped potential of our youthful population. Let us also strive to strengthen youth leadership structures, promote skilling programmes, support youth interventions and address challenges hindering youth development in various sectors.