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The United Nations consult young people on the development of the new United Nations Strategic Cooperation Development Framework (UNSCDF)

The UNSDCF is the United Nations Strategic Development Cooperation Framework that outlines the work of the United Nations system in South Africa and aligns priority areas with the National Development Plan (NDP) of South Africa.

The objective of the consultation was to mobilize support from various partners and UN Agencies around how best to work with youth towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The workshop kicked off with a theatrical drama skit by the UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel, who demonstrated young people’s interpretation of the work of the UN in South Africa, highlighting development, sexual and reproductive health ad rights, conflict resolution, humanitarian work and poverty alleviation as key themes.

The discussions during the Youth Consultation were centered on the needs, challenges and opportunities for youth and youth living with disabilities.  

“Your voice is our voice” said the Resident Coordinator, Nardos Bekele –Thomas, who spoke about the vital role of the youth in the country’s economy and social development. Although policies can be drafted and strategies be implemented, the Resident Coordinator emphasized that young people need to have self-determination and learn how to combat challenges in order to drive their own success. Ms. Bekele-Thomas shared about the challenges she encountered as a young woman during instability in Ethiopia and encouraged the youth to be selfless and take initiative to drive change, not just for themselves but for their families and communities.

“Once you are a leader, you are a leader forever and have the responsibility to lead by example” she said.



Ms. Shoki Tshabalala, Acting Director General at the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities said, “it is important to strengthen collaborations with the UN, as the UN exposes the youth to international work and networking opportunities, which allows South Africa to be part of the global community”. She further reminded participants that South Africa has a long history of youth who led South Africa into the democratic country it is today and that young people are critical agents for change.

Ms. Juliet Tshoke, Executive Director, Corporate Strategy and Planning, at the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) shared about the challenges and lessons learnt in terms of its services for youth. She shared suggestions on how best NYDA can restructure and evaluate the current programmes and policies to better serve youth.

“Unemployment has become a crisis in our country and the department needs to implement programmes that motivate young people to be thinkers and get involved for social cohesion,” she noted.

The youth focal point for UNICEF gave an overview of the U-Report, which is a social messaging tool developed by UNICEF to stimulate interaction with the youth.

As part of the consultation, youth delegates on the panel raised concerns and issues affecting young people such as access to funding for young entrepreneurs, skills gap in the labor market, lack of mentorship opportunities, the negative mentality towards agriculture and the stigma surrounding disabled people who are faced with the same challenges as other people but find it more difficult to receive basic services or voice their challenges. The panelists called for actions relating to policy changes that need to be addressed and urged for continuity of implementation plans even after the Minister’s term of office lapses. The participants from different UN agencies and organisations were split into six groups who were given various topics addressed in the UNSDCF. Each group presented its response and gave their recommendations to the UN which would be taken on board when developing the new UNSDCF.

Young leaders called upon the government, in partnership with the United Nations to lead by example and shift from a point of discussions to actual implementation and addressing of people’s needs.

Recommendations were presented to the United Nations on how to effectively work with government and respond effectively to the young people’s challenges in a bid to tap into their full potential.

Ms. Beatrice Mutali, UNFPA Representative for South Africa gave a succinct vote of thanks and thanked all the young people in attendance for the valuable input during the consultation. She reaffirmed UN’s commitment to taking the outcomes and the necessary changes to implement the recommendations and track the progress.