The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat in collaboration with the National Youth Council for the Republic of Namibia hosted the SADC Youth Forum in Windhoek, Namibia from 13 - 14 December 2018. The forum was convened with the technical and financial support from Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
The purpose of the forum was to facilitate youth consultation and planning on youth development and empowerment and provide recommendations for Ministerial consideration and approval at the upcoming meeting of Ministers Responsible for Youth which will be held in May 2019.The forum was also intended as a platform to accelerate youth development and empowerment through active youth participation.
The forum is one of the activities to facilitate the operationalization of the theme for 38th SADC Summit “Promoting infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development” through which the SADC Heads of State and Governments demonstrated the continued SADC commitment at the highest level to ensure that the youth play a pivotal role in the SADC development processes.
The forum reviewed progress on the implementation of the outcomes of the last SADC youth forum; drew-up regional youth empowerment priority areas to be recommended for consideration during the next meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for Youth in May 2019; reviewed the minimum standards for youth participation and leadership and the draft programme framework for youth innovation and entrepreneurship to draw priority actions for enabling youth participation; and discussed how to mainstream youth participation in implementing the SADC Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) Framework for Orphans & Vulnerable Children (OVC) and Youth
The Minister of Sports, Youth & National Service for the Republic of Namibia, Honourable Erastus A. Uutoni delivered the official address and underscored the importance of youth participation in policy formulation and programmes on issues that affect the lives of young people in the entire SADC region. He said that the region boosts an active young population where two-thirds of its citizens are below the age of 35 years, thereby presenting a window of opportunity for the fortunes for the region to be drastically transformed into greater economic growth, prosperity, and self-determination that is unparalleled.
The SADC Director of Social and Human Development, Ms Duduzile Simelane said that youth development and empowerment is at the core of the SADC’s Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020) as an explicit targeted output – under the Social and Human Development. She underscored that youth development and empowerment is closely related to SADC’s strategic objective to enhance human capabilities and utilisation, to reduce vulnerability, eradicate human poverty and to attain the well-being of the SADC citizens.
The forum is an official structure of SADC which was institutionalized during the Meeting of Ministers responsible for youth in 2014, in Malawi. It aims to provide the opportunity and space for youth to voice and develop resolutions and recommendations on priority issues to be considered by the SADC Ministers Responsible for Youth, as well as SADC Council of Ministers and subsequently the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.
The forum was attended by youths drawn from the National Youth Coordinating Bodies; Councils; and agencies in Member States, and representatives of regional civil society youth coordinating bodies including the Pan African Youth Union and experts from the United Nation agencies.
Delegates were encouraged to fully participate and join the conversations on social media on Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development on; #SADCYouthtalks #EngageSADCYouths