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Tørnæs and Danish Youth Council: We are strengthening youth’s fight for the Global Goals

By Minister for Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs, President of Danish Youth Council (DUF), Kasper Sand and 2017 youth delegate to the UN, Clara Halvorsen.

That youth is an important crosscutting focus in Danish development cooperation was cemented by the adoption of the strategy for development cooperation and humanitarian assistance, The World 2030. In this strategy, Denmark shows the way for the rest of the world when the strategy with its strong youth focus determines that development must take place not just for but also with and by young people.

Our joint ambition as Minister for Development Cooperation, President of DUF and youth delegate is that young people are involved and have ownership of the development processes that concern them. Only in this way can we create real and sustainable development in the long term. That goes for the world and at the highest level at the UN.

That is why a new global youth program in DUF will give youth strengthened opportunities to contribute to the achievement of the 17 Global Goals and that is why Denmark will send no less than six youth delegates to international conferences in 2018.

Danish youth are contributing to the Global Goals
At the UN discussions are ongoing about how young people can contribute to the Global Goals and take development in their own hands both locally, nationally and internationally. This question does not have only one answer. In Denmark and in DUF we have a long series of good experiences and concrete examples.

In the associational life in Denmark, we have a longstanding and good tradition of engaging children and youth and giving them the opportunity to take actively part in strong and binding communities. Here is how Danish children’s and youth organizations contribute concretely to a number of Global Goals:

The associations work with equal social status in inclusive fellowships addresses Global Goals 10 on inequality and Global Goal 5 on gender equality, among other. These issues have been high on the agenda for years.

The democratic structures in associational life are contained in goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. In addition, when it comes to Global Goal 17 on partnerships, we see how Danish youth are contributing.

Through DUF’s international work Danish youth take part in equal youth-to-youth partnerships with young people from organizations in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and a number of developing countries in Africa. Together they do projects that strengthen youth participation and democratic education just as they contribute to concrete realization of the Global Goals.

In Rwanda, for example, the International Medical Cooperation Committee (a volunteer student organization) has worked with Rwandan medical students to developed methods for sexuality education, methods that the public authorities are now introducing to the curricula of public schools. The project thereby strengthens the rights and health of girls and women and contributes to Global Goals 3 and 5 in particular.

Another example is Danish Deaf Youth Association, which together with deaf youth in Ghana works to build a strong youth organization that can break down barriers for young deaf Ghanaians and provide the opportunity to access education and political participation. Together, they contribute to Global Goal 10, among others.

Denmark expands youth efforts at the UN
Our experience shows that young people both in Denmark and in the rest of the world can actually make a difference in the development of both their local communities and nationally. That young people have both the enthusiasm and the abilities to take part in society and change understandings and structures in order to break down barriers and open for new opportunities.

This year alone we have experienced great interest at the UN in Denmark’s experience and approach to youth participation in Danish development cooperation. That is why we are now strengthening the access of Danish youth to the UN in a cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and DUF.

From 2018, we are expanding the number of youth delegates from one to six so that Danish youth will be represented at a number of different international conferences, primarily at the UN.

We are pleased with the prospect of a broad Danish youth effort internationally. Danish youth has a lot to contribute when the Global Goals and the role of young people are discussed, and best practices shared.

At the same time, we will continue to strengthen the active participation of youth in the development of their communities around the world in order for young people themselves to be better able to contribute to the Global Goals towards 2030.

That is because the Global Goals are first and foremost the goals of youth.

Originally posted as an opinion piece in Danish at the (24 November 2017): 

Translation by the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the UN, all errors and inaccuracies our responsibility.