Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Adolescent and Youth take the stage for national dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda

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Press Release – Belmopan City, Belize – April 06, 2024 – The Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Climate Change in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Transport, and the UN System, hosted the first-ever National Youth Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), anchored on the Voluntary National Review (VNR).
The VNR is a process by which countries take stock and assess progress and challenges in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. As part of its follow-up and review mechanisms, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development encourages member states to “conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country- driven”. In keeping with this guidance, Belize is preparing to deliver the 2024 VNR that will assess all 17 SDGs. This report is expected to (i) assess the progress in the implementation of the SDGs using the relevant SDGs indicators, (ii) fulfil the reporting commitment, (iii) identify gaps in implementation (iv) strengthen and promote the need for monitoring, evaluation, and reporting and (v) assessing the Private Sector Investment Programme’s (PSIPs) alignment with SDGs.
Hon. Orlando Habet, Minister, Ministry of Sustainable Development and Climate Change highlighted that “Our journey has seen only one comprehensive assessment so far: the 2017 Voluntary National Review (VNR), which reviewed only 4 out of the 17 SDGs. We convene to contribute to the shaping of Belize’s 2nd VNR report, which will now encompass all SDGs. This review process also integrates the valuable lessons learned from our first VNR experience, including the application of a whole-of-society approach to ensure no one is left behind, with particular emphasis on the crucial role of young people as stakeholders in this process. Belize stands resolute in its commitment to these goals, striving not only for their attainment but also for their seamless integration into the very fabric of our nation’s development. Our 2nd Medium-Term Development Strategy, #PlanBelize 2022-2026, stands as a testament to these unwavering pledges, fully aligned with the 17 Development Goals.”
With over 60 per cent of the population comprised of persons under the age of thirty (30); this initiative is a participatory feature of the ongoing 2024 VNR process that seeks to incorporate the voices of adolescent and youths. Discussion for the one-day event will be anchored in the five pillars of People, Planet, Peace, Prosperity, and Partnership. The conference is also being used as a platform to initiate continuous engagement and participants will develop an action plan to further mobilize young people to advocate for and monitor SDG goals through community engagement and using digital and SMS polls on the U-Report Platform.
Hon. Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Youth, Sports and Transport envisioned that “It is imperative for governments, development partners, and influencers to enact policies that prioritize the development and human rights of young people in Belize. Hence, my government commits to the development of a Youth Policy. Providing a formal space for youth involvement. Increasing the resources for investment in young people.”
UNICEF Representative for Belize, Alison Parker on behalf of the UN system, emphasized the significance of adolescent and youth engagement in high-level national processes. “Last year, nation states and development partners crossed the half-way point to address the SDGs, with an urgent call for multilateralism to drive results. This consultative conference is therefore timely, as it affords the opportunity for us to again listen, assess and reflect on stakeholder’s feedback and real-life perspectives, and rapidly accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda. Now more than ever, the UN is invested in partnerships that accelerate efforts for children, adolescents and young people, to meet the commitments to the next generation.”
The empowerment of young people is not just beneficial but essential for sustainable development. Their inclusion in decision-making processes ensures that policies and initiatives are reflective of their needs and aspirations, enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of sustainability efforts. Learning more about the SDGs can help young people develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They must have a deeper understanding of how the world works and be aware of all complex interplays between the various social, economic, and environmental factors contributing to national challenges.
18 years old Matilda DeLeon summarized with “Congratulations to the Government of Belize and the United Nations for including the voices of our young persons in this process through empowerment and responsibility in moving the Sustainable Development Goals
forward.”
The 2024 VNR Report will also serve to inform the necessary adjustments to be made to the current medium-term development strategy, #PlanBelize 2022-2026 to be more impactful and effective in its efforts to build a more democratic, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient Belize and to ensure no one is left behind.

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