Remarks by Dr. Ashok Nigam, UNRC and UNDP RR on the “Youth Indicators” Workshop

Apr 16, 2017


Honorable Executive Director of King Salman Youth Center, Mr. Hani Al Mogbil

Dear Participants,

Al Salam Alekum,

I am very pleased to be part of this forum, where young participants share their insights for a brighter tomorrow! The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda clearly states “The future of humanity and our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations.

Young people are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs frameworks. The words “children”, “young” and “youth” have been mentioned 33 times in the SDGs framework. At least 10 of the 17 Goals relate directly to the youth and their development challenges. The framework pays special attention to youth education, health, nutrition, employment, dignity, empowerment, security, equality, and young people’s participation in decision-making forums.  

Not only are young people deeply embedded within the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, it also recognizes youth as partners for change towards their implementation.   Millions of youth have told the UN about the world they want. Others contributed to drafting the Global Youth Call and the UN Major Group for Children and Youth has spared no efforts in mobilizing youth-led organizations all over the world to make sure youth are at the forefront of the new development agenda.

Saudi Arabia has a young population - around 38% of the total Saudi population fall between the ages of 15-34 years old, which gives Saudi Arabia a huge population dividend but also challenges in education and decent work for all the youth - meeting and matching expectations will be major challenge. While great achievements are registered in the field of education, issues relating to quality of education and relevance to market needs remain paramount.

The lack of sufficient recreational opportunities and facilities for youth, and the need to improve their quality are clearly evident priorities. The issues of reducing unemployment of educated youth, and the low female participation rates in the labor market, are major socio economic challenges. All these tasks should be taken if we to integrate and enhance youth development.

While acknowledging these development challenges, in response, the Government of Saudi Arabia is committed to invest in mobilizing capacities and resources for engaging youth in the sustainable development process. It is in this context that the Saudi Vision 2030 places youth at the heart of this transformation thus turning this demographic challenge to an opportunity for growth through the generation of a strong base of empowered youth to lead the development process in the Kingdom.

Not only that a majority of the Saudi Vision 2030 priorities is linked to youth welfare whether directly or indirectly to include education, employment, good quality of life, healthy lifestyle, culture and entertainment, attractive living environment and engaging everyone, but intersects with the SDGs. One cannot but be rightly optimistic and hopeful about such synergies and complementarities between the Saudi Vision 2030 and the UN Agenda 2030 in addressing development challenges and realizing youth full potentials, which leads us to the reason of my participation in this forum; to shed lights on the support the UN System and UNDP in particular can provide in the area of youth empowerment.

UNDP has been providing extensive support to national policy development and implementation through the provision of evidence-based policy guidance and programmatic support and by promoting active participation of youth, including the most marginalized and vulnerable in all spheres of society.

UNDP promotes:

  • Inclusive youth participation in effective and democratic governance;
  • Economic empowerment of youth and;
  • Strengthened youth engagement in building resilience in their communities;
  • Inclusion of youth in the future development agenda, including through consultations and discussions

In response to the worldwide phenomenon of young people calling for meaningful civic, economic, social and political participation, UNDP’s Youth Strategy 2014-2017 and UNDP Youth Global Programme for Sustainable Development and Peace (also known as UNDP-GPS) recognize the involvement of youth in participatory decision-making and development processes as vital to achieving sustainable human development.

Regionally, UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States has launched recently the 2016 Arab Human Development Report: Youth and the prospects for human development in changing reality. The report outlines challenges facing youth across the Arab States region and proposes a new approach to empowering young people to participate and drive development progress and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs across the Arab States. The report’s significance lies in proposing a new model of youth engagement, which is strongly linked to more inclusive and effective modes of governance. The model is called “Development fit for Youth.” It has three integrated pillars:

  • Investing in knowledge, skills and health
  • Expanding choices which include decent work, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement
  • Achieving peace and security

UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States is also proposing the Arab Human Development Report Trust Fund for Youth, which builds on the recommendations of the report and supports programmes at the national and regional level, which in turn help build capabilities and provide opportunities for young people in the region, with a focus on helping create policies fit for youth across all aspects of development planning and in the context of planning for Agenda 2030.

Nationally, youth empowerment has been identified as a cross-cutting issue in the new UN Common Country Strategic Framework (2017 -2021) and UNDP Country Programme (2017-2021). In addition to placing the needed emphasis on youth-related issues, this will entail mainstreaming of youth related issues into UN programmatic interventions in Saudi Arabia for the said period.

Saudi Vision 2030 states that “together we will continue building a better country, fulfilling our dream of prosperity and unlocking the talent, potential, and dedication of our young men and women”. In line with that vision, non-governmental organizations are equally keen to work alongside the government to sustain this momentum. Non-governmental organizations by the very nature of their grass-roots presence, have the ability to reach the young people and channel their untapped potentials into the development process.

May I say that in order to develop well-informed policies and strategies targeting youth, the decision-makers will need robust, accurate, and specific set of data and indicators to establish baselines and measure changes for each intervention targeting youth or any other group. Therefore, Non-governmental organizations can play a vital role in providing a number of well-targeted thematic data and indicators in specific areas at the local level towards the achievement of the development transformation of the Kingdom and the full realization of youth potentials.

I am pleased to add that within this context, UNDP Riyadh Country Office is pleased to be working with King Salman Youth Center to deliver a set of youth-focused indicators along with a report highlighting Saudi Youth issues and opportunities; with the overall aim of concluding with recommendations, which are hoped to feed into policy dialogue forums, and bring about needed policy change.

Finally, I just want to say that with youth comes energy, innovation, and optimism if there are supportive environments and opportunities.

I wish you every success and look forward to the workshop outcomes, ideas and recommendations.

Thank you





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