ECOSOC: Youth Forum

Statement at the ECOSOC Youth Forum by Norway's Minister of Children and Equality Ms. Solveig Horne, 31 January 2017.

Mr. President, Excellences and Youth delegates. Thank you madam chair for your introduction on the role of youth in the implementation of the Social Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are the common tool we need to use working to address the causes of poverty. To reach these goals we need to join national priorities to the global framework of the 2030 Agenda.

Norway is doing this by presenting a White Paper to the Parliament this spring, about how to reach the SDGs. This links the Norwegian international cooperation policy with the 2030 goals.

Politics is about our willingness to change and shape the future into a better place. We must acknowledge that youth has an important role to play in this work.

The majority of the population in developing countries are below 25 years of age. In all countries, youth are an important recourse to foster change.

In Norway, we believe that children and youth are experts on their own lives. We have established ways to engage and listen to youth. By letting youth express themselves freely, we get better decision and stronger policies.

Every government should encourage youth participation on all levels of decision-making. The key value in the 2030 Agenda – is to leave no one behind. We have a commitment as governments to identify and include those groups left behind on different goals in our countries.

We need youth to reach our goals, and we must include disadvantaged and disabled youth. They have experiences, and are likely to give advice, based on important knowledge.

UN reports and International indexes show that Norway ranks high in implementing the SDGs on a global level. It is still evident that implementing the 2030 agenda will be demanding also for Norway.

We face challenges related to several of the SDGs on all three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental. We have identified targets for domestic follow up.

Providing good health services to all children and young people is a crucial success factor for sustainable development. Norway is increasing our support to a number of global health initiatives putting the health of women, youth and children first.

We put high priority on helping and supporting vulnerable families, especially families with alcohol and drug problems, or problems related to domestic violence and mental health. We are also doubling our support to education.

This support builds Youth to shoulder the challenges for the coming decades. The responsibility for national development rests with the nations themselves. The 2030 Agenda calls for: a will to change, policies for inclusive development and it requires resources to back up political commitments. This requires committed leadership at all levels.

The universal character of the 2030 Agenda goes very well with the Norwegian right-based approach to development.

It is in our power today to secure and empower the coming generation to build the economically, socially and environmentally enabling societies for tomorrow. We do a lot in order to empower youth and enable them to contribute to policy development both nationally and internationally.

Through financial support to children and youth organizations, we empower them and give youth democratic experience. In the other end, we receive engagement and competent advice from youth.

We arrange regular consultations between the government and youth organizations. Youth organizations often take active part in the preparation of action plans and white papers. This way we make sure measures are effective and meet the needs of different young target groups.

We also include youth delegates in our delegations to important international meetings, such as the three youth delegates taking part in the ECOSOC Youth Forum this year. The NGOs encouragement towards the Government, contributes to our position in reaching our goals.  

The Norwegian Governments ambition is a country with a low level of differences in income and minimal poverty.

We have launched a strategy for children living in poverty. Seven ministries, including the Ministry of Finance, are directly involved in implementing the strategy. 

We aim to improve children's living conditions, to prevent exclusion and to ensure that all children and young people have equal opportunities.

Focus areas are; Universal access to education, all the way from kindergarten. Access to work for young people, and employment for all parents. We endorse an active and inclusive labor market policy.

Integration programs and education, and training of newly arrived immigrants is also of particular importance.

Youth involvement was essential in making our strategy. By listening to young people themselves, we gained access to ideas and knowledge that we actively used in outlining the measures in the strategy.

Our youth shared insight and brave messages that echoed all the way up to our parliament.

The Government is committed to combat poverty, and - to leave no one behind. Moreover, we do not work alone. Children and young people, municipalities and the voluntary sector make big efforts and contribute greatly.

We have formed a partnership on cooperation to include all children in leisure activities. This cooperating involves the government, municipalities and NGOs.

We are monitoring our work, and youth are to be included in the follow up of the strategy. Every second year we will evaluate our effort, and revise our measures if necessary. I am eager to see if research and statistics will reflect our efforts.

To conclude. The SDGs are indivisible. Acting on one will have effects on others. Equal opportunities for all is closely connected with gender equality, empowerment of the disadvantaged, equal opportunities to work and education, and eradication of violence and abuse.

None of us will be successful if only acting alone. Together we can make change through new and complementary partnerships.

Young people's contributions is a treasure. We have had good use of young people's advices in our policymaking on a broad range of areas in Norway. Such as on the area of health, and in the fight against violence and abuse.

We need to bring the youth with us in our work to reach the SDGs.