The Southern African Development Community (SAD) joins the United Nations and other stakeholders in commemorating the International Youth Day. This year the global theme for the day is “safe spaces for youth”, which draws attention to the need for appropriate platforms to be in place for youth to engage and make positive contributions in all spheres of life. Such spaces should afford youth genuine and effective opportunities for broad-based participation.
The 35th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government held on 18th August 2015, adopted the SADC Declaration on Youth Empowerment and Development as a high-level commitment to address youth issues with renewed determination. The Declaration recognises that children and youth are in fact the greatest resource available to address many challenges facing SADC, and that investing in their development will empower them to be responsible and productive citizens. SADC Heads of State and Government affirmed that promoting youth participation in the socio-economic and political agenda at regional and national levels would ensure their ownership and commitment to sustain development gains, with a sense of responsibility, patriotism and unity. In order to bring effect to the Declaration, SADC is implementing the Strategy and Business Plan on Youth Empowerment and Participation for Sustainable Development (2015-2020), which emphasises the implementation of development-oriented interventions related to employment creation, socio-economic and political governance.
It is indeed fitting that this year, the 38th Summit of SADC Heads of States to be held on 17th and 18th August 2018 is held under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development.” Indeed, this theme is a demonstration of the continued SADC commitment at the highest level to ensure that the youth play a pivotal role in SADC development processes. Sustained efforts will continue, to enhance youth participation in regional initiatives.
As we celebrate International Youth Day, May I request SADC Member States and all stakeholders to deliberately mainstream interests of youth and ensure youth participation in socio-economic development processes. It is only through the deeper involvement of our youth that our region’s lofty aspirations can be realised.