Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
There is no greater resource than our children and youth.
Young people today are underrepresented in decision-making bodies and underemployed, although they make up the majority of the world’s population.
The African continent is a case in point. It has the youngest population of any continent. Every year, 12 million African youths try to enter the labor market. But only three million new jobs are created annually. Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth are key.
We are pleased to see that, in a number of countries – particularly here in Africa – there is growing momentum to invest in education.
Norway will continue to do its utmost to support you and to make sure young people have access to education, that schools are safe, and that youth and children are protected.
It is particularly important to work with young people, and to put young people at the front of this effort. We often talk about young people as victims or perpetrators, but above all, they are a key part of the solution.
As we all know, telling one side of the story is dangerous, and wrong. The AU is telling a balanced story in the study discussed today. We must keep telling the stories about the Radio Coalitions for Peace in Madagascar, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement in Nigeria and the Centre for Youth Empowerment in Somalia, and other youth-led initiatives around Africa.
The AU recognizes that youth are a key part of the solution, and has attempted to bridge that gap through key efforts. As we have heard today, several initiatives have been launched. Congratulations to the appointed African Youth Ambassadors for Peace, we look forward to following your work.
To Ms. Aya Chebbi, congratulations on completing your first year as the AU Youth Envoy. You are a driving force for accelerating implementation of the youth agenda, and you are turning Africa`s youth into peacebuilders and constructive development actors that will shape our common future.
Norway supports the AU`s youth efforts on different areas. The Training for Peace program has increased participation from youth on governance issues, strengthened youths role in PCRD and has contributed to de-radicalize and work against violent extremism. We also supported the Youth for Peace (Y4P) Africa program`s regional consultation with youth from the Central African region in which took place in Gabon in June through the UN office to the AU (UNOAU).
Through Norway’s involvement in peace and reconciliation efforts in Colombia, the Philippines and South Sudan, we have seen first-hand the important contributions of youth. Based on this experience, we encourage the inclusion – at an early stage – of young women and men in peace negotiations and the resolution of conflict.
We look forward to explore how we can bring this agenda forward together.
Happy African Youth Month!