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Children, Adolescents and Youth Demand Greater Participation in Latin America and the Caribbean’s Development Process

Today, in the framework of the seventh Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, an annual youth gathering was held at ECLAC’s headquarters in Chile.
News |
15 April 2024
Foto de participantes en el evento

Children, adolescents and youth from the region advocated today for greater levels of participation in Latin America and the Caribbean’s sustainable development process, during an event held in the framework of the seventh meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, which is taking place on April 15-18, 2024 at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile.

At the 2024 session of the Forum of children, adolescents and youth of Latin America and the Caribbean, the young participants presented their different realities and experiences, along with their specific proposals and recommendations for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region.

“Latin America and the Caribbean faces the urgency of accelerating fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda. We young people, as the largest such population in history, must take a leading role along this path to a more equitable, just and peaceful future. With more than 165 million people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the region, our voices are fundamental for charting the course towards sustainable development,” said Valentina Paz Carrasco Soto, representative of the region’s Children and Youth Group and of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

“Poverty, malnutrition, climate change, violence and corruption are realities that affect us directly and indirectly, they confront us and demand that we take action,” Carrasco said during the opening session of the forum, which also featured welcome remarks by Felipe Paullier, Assistant Secretary-General for Youth Affairs of the United Nations (UN), via video message, and Alberto Arenas de Mesa, Director of ECLAC’s Social Development Division.

At this gathering, the young people held a High-level Intergenerational Dialogue with the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed; ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs; and senior officials from UN agencies, funds and programs, including Najat Maalla M'jid, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (online); Susana Sottoli, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Mario Lubetkin, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean; and Georgiana Braga-Orillard, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Chile. These speakers underscored some of the challenges faced by the region’s children and youth, such as violence, food insecurity, and little meaningful participation in decision-making.

“This space is very valuable to us, the children, adolescents and youth of the region. We believe that building a constructive conversation is key to forming partnerships and attaining the SDGs and the social inclusion that we need so much as a population group,” Maria Sujkowska – Global Focal Point for the Children and Youth Group of Latin America and the Caribbean and representative of Chile’s Corporación de Estudios y Desarrollo Norte Grande – said in the opening segment of the dialogue in which young people from countries including Brazil, Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela spoke as well.

As was explained at the event, this forum is the result of three months of virtual dialogue in which children, adolescents and youth from throughout the region participated – including speakers of Spanish, Portuguese, English and indigenous languages, migrants, young people from rural sectors, the LGBT community, HIV-positive youth, youth with disabilities, social leaders and leaders from different realities and contexts.

“As we navigate the complexities of the 21st century, your engagement is not optional, it is essential. Your insights and hard work are key to unlocking transformative changes,” the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, told the young people, emphasizing the great leadership shown by the youth population on crucial issues such as climate action. She also praised the inclusion of young people’s voices in all the United Nations’ decision-making processes, inviting them to get actively involved in each of these, especially during this year’s Summit of the Future.

“In our pursuit of more productive, inclusive and sustainable development, it is undeniable that we are facing huge challenges: poverty, the climate emergency, the double burden of malnutrition and unprecedented levels of violence, to mention just a few. These are not isolated problems but rather interconnected obstacles that disproportionately affect the youth population in all the region’s countries. We need to count on young people for a truly transformative, sustainable change that would ensure the prosperity of future generations,” José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs declared.

“As ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, I am deeply committed to empowering our youth, giving them not only a platform for expressing their concerns, but also a significant opportunity to influence the policies that shape their future and an opportunity to discuss ideas for transforming the world,” the senior official added.

The Forum of children, adolescents and youth of Latin America and the Caribbean 2024 included discussions about the youth regional processes, SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) and the role of young people in the Summit of the Future (which will take place in September of this year, convened by the UN).

This forum is an integral component of the activities organized by the LAC Children and Youth Regional Caucus MEsLAC - MGCY, alongside its affiliated organizations and members, in collaboration with key partners such as ECLAC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Youth Working Group of the Regional Collaboration Platform for Latin America and the Caribbean.

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