Group photo at the event
By Ramatoulie Jawo
The United Nations Agencies in the Gambia held a youth day event on August 23, 2023, at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Center in Bijilo. The event was part of the UN’s global celebrations of International Youth Day, which this year had the theme “17 Global Goals: 17 Young People Making a Difference.”
This occasion presents a platform for 17 young individuals to engage with the UN, government bodies, and pertinent stakeholders, enabling them to showcase their efforts in advancing the Global Goals. Under the theme “17 Global Goals: 17 Young People Making a Difference,” the UN Agencies commend the remarkable endeavors of these young individuals in constructing a more prosperous, sustainable, and harmonious world that benefits everyone.
Speaking at the event, the Honorable Bakary Y. Badjie, Minister of Youth and Sports, expressed his appreciation for joining the young people in celebrating this important day. He highlighted the many activities that young people have undertaken in the country to make a difference in their communities and protect the environment. He also encouraged young people to continue to work towards sustainable development goals.
“I believe that just like the UN, the government, communities, and individuals have a responsibility to ensure that we work towards those goals. They are not considered global goals just to be left with the UN alone, but it’s considered as global goals because each one of us in our various communities and in our various workplaces can do something little that can add up to what other people are doing so that we can live in a safe space,” he said.
He added that “today it is not a secret that Gambia continues to struggle with extreme heat in the country, just as it is in other countries on the continent of Africa and around the world,
“This should be a sign that we need to plant trees to ensure that our environment is clean and to do our part to protect what belongs to all of us,” he added.
Hon.Badjie reaffirmed the government’s commitment through its various ministries to work with the UN family to ensure that communities are better prepared and to be more resilient towards environmental declarations and anything that has an effect on the lives of the people.
“We want to assure you that the government is ready to work towards the realization of our legislation and all the commitments that the government has taken as part of the COPE events, both in Africa and across the world. The ministry is engaging in several activities that are meant to empower our young people, including those in agriculture, through the UNDP supported projects called the Gambia Song High Initiative,” he said.
Dr. Desta Tiruneh, a representative from the UN, said that the world is at a crossroads. The converging impacts of climate disaster, conflict, economic downturn, and the lingering effects of the global pandemic have hindered our journey towards development. Dr. Tiruneh implored the young people to remain committed to this journey, ensuring that no one is left behind.
“It pains us to admit that in a society where the voices of our young people are often drowned out and where they face the harsh realities of unemployment and discrimination, we all suffer a loss. For every opportunity denied, for every voice silenced, we miss out on the potential that could shape a brighter future for all. But today, we stand united in the pursuit of change.
“We stand united in the effort to empower every Gambian, transcending the boundaries of age, gender, and ability. By doing so, we lay the foundation for the achievement of our shared goals, forging a path towards a more peaceful, just, and equitable world,” he said.
He further disclosed that young people are not just the inheritors of our legacy; they are the architects of our future. Adding that they hold within them the promise of progress and the power to effect lasting change, noting that their voices are not mere echoes, but they are the clarion calls for transformation.