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Dear ministers and delegates,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you and discuss such an important matter as youth participation - and how to implement the seventeen SDGs and the 2030 agenda.
All countries must recall the children and youth's right both to participate and to be heard in matters regarding their own lives.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child establishes this right by law. The Convention has inspired changes in laws and practice that have improved the lives of many children. Not only in Norway, but all around the world.
Democratic societies should give all its citizens the opportunity to participate and take responsibility. As citizens, youth must have the opportunity to take part in democratic processes and in the development of the society.
The best way to teach young people the importance of this is to let children and youngsters participate and take part in discussions by practice while growing up.
National governments must take responsibility. Action starts at home in our very own nations.
I would like to briefly describe some of our methods for youth participation:
Most of the municipalities in Norway have what we call Youth Councils. They primarily give advice to the local authorities. They are organised in several ways. Their mandate are different in different municipalities.
Because of this, we are now preparing a new bill. It suggests establishing the system for youth councils by law. The system will be mandatory for the municipalities who choose to have youth councils.
On the level of the government my Ministry involves youth in processes of developing new policies. Our involvement of children and youth is based on a strong belief that they are the experts on their own lives.
Children and young people are involved in different ways, such as:
We have consultations with youth organisations and youth umbrella organisations on a regular basis. Three representatives from these organisations are here with me today.
We invite young people to contribute in ongoing work, for example a white paper or an action plan. This comes on top of the ordinary public consultations. We often consult others representing the interest of children, such as Save the Children or the Norwegian Ombudsman for Children.
The key here is that we actually use the input we get from these consultations to develop our policies and legislation. Our experience is that youth involvement leads to better decisions.
I would also like to add that since the end of World War II, the Government has given considerable financial support to youth organisations due to their important role in the development of our democratic society.
All youth need to be encouraged and empowered to participate in the democratic processes and the development of the society. Youth participation must be based on gender equality and quality education. These two are both stand-alone goals, but also keys to achieving other goals.
Implementing the SDGs is a goal that we share. To reach this we need to involve those who represent the future. The youth must be involved and participate for us all to succeed.
Thank you so much for your attention.