New York, 30 January 2017
Distinguished UNSG’s Envoy for Youth;
Distinguished colleagues, Ministers and Responsibles for Youth;
Distinguished Representatives of UN’s State Members;
Distinguished Youth Delegates;
Good morning to you all.
It is, for me, a special pleasure to address you – in the contemporary context in which several and diverse challenges present to us in the different regions of our planet – to share the good practices that we believe that Portugal enforces by engaging youth in a primary goal assumed by the entire Portuguese government, across all the different sectors: to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as defined by the 2030 Agenda.
It is, for me, impossible to speak about this agenda without saluting and subscribing the belief on the feasibility and the necessity of working together in achieving its first goal: eradicating poverty.
Yes, it is possible. Yes, we will be able to. Yes, we must be able to.
As a Minister that, within the Portuguese Government, has responsibilities on Youth and Education – besides Sports that, with its values of tolerance, discipline and fairness as enounced in objective 13 – I must stress how objective 4 – that states the importance of inclusive Education for all, life long – founds our action nationwide and frames the international commitments we subscribe.
This is the bridge that connects the eradication of poverty to the promotion of a sustainable development through the decent employment for everyone as enounced on objective 8, that unites all of us, I believe.
If we do so for citizens, we could not do it without citizens.
Citizens are not policy consumers. They are policy agents and, not seldom, policy authors.
The same thing happens, foremost, with our young citizens.
In Portugal, even if placed in my Ministry, youth policies interact with all the Ministries, embracing the problems and actions of youth people in all the scope of their lives: from education to employment, from healthcare to environment, and never forgetting citizenship, communities and political participation.
Our youngsters, as all youngsters, respond affirmatively when asked to engage.
They are here with us at ECOSOC, as they are in the other relevant UN fora.
They engage in the European Union’s decision making processes, as they are active in the Ibero-American dialogue as well within the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community, in which the Youth sector is presided by me until 2018.
By the way, Portuguese youngsters are the only ones in the planet – as Portugal is the only country – to have an institutional active voice on all these three structured dialogue spaces that embrace most of the continents: the European Union and the Ibero American Space and Portuguese Speaking Communities.
Our youngsters are, therefore, heavily present in the entire globe.
In Portugal and abroad: in international work camps; in the European voluntary service, in the different modes of Erasmus programmes, just to give three important examples.
Portuguese young representatives have been assuming tasks and posts of significant international relevance in bodies like the Consulting Council of Youth of the Council of Europe, presided during the previous mandate by a representative of the Portuguese Youth National Council, a national body which is here today with us, represented by its President, Hugo Carvalho.
In these bodies, as in the European Youth Director Committee, they assume a co-management model, unique in the international scene, in what concerns to decision making and shared management, based upon on equality and consensus between official entities and civil society organizations.
Moreover, several Portuguese young representatives assume responsibilities within the European Youth Forum, within the North-South Center of the Council of Europe, as well as within crucial projects related to the Africa – Europe cooperation process in the Youth sector.
This engagement of Portuguese youth representatives in the international scene is decisive in order to allow that representatives and represented youngsters enlarge formation and opportunities; found and nourish relevant bonds and networks for the future; and acquire experience and gains on essential skills to personal and professional achievements.
By doing so, our country invests on its own internationalization process, affirming our values and relative advantages.
Because this is our path on effectively answering to the challenge launched on us all by the 2030 UN Agenda, we will present to the next General Assembly, with Moldova and Senegal, a resolution which reflect the priority given by Portugal to all the issues related to the empowerment, participation and integration of our youth in the decision processes and fora; on social inclusion; on promoting a decent employment and on assuring gender equality and opportunities.
Acting as I am stating, we believe to meet the expectations created in 1998, when Portugal hosted the World Youth Ministers Conference, the Ibero American Youth Ministers Conference, and the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community’s Youth Ministers Conference, as well as the Youth World Forum and Festival; therefore keeping Portugal at the vanguard of policies that put young populations both as subjects and partners. We work now to give a new momentum to the comprehensive work we have initiated two decades ago.
A final world to stress the need for us to approach Youth problems in an integrated, horizontal and coordinated manner – either within our borders or worldwide – allowing us to mitigate inequalities still present amongst Youths of our different countries. Youth is a common stadium, regardless to the state that addresses it.
Hereby Portugal presents itself ready to go hand by hand with you all in the sense of advancing on the fulfillment of the World Action Programme for Youth and on the achievement of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, always having in mind how to conquer to our Young Populations a more equal access on means, rights and resources.
Yes, it is possible. Yes, we will deliver. Yes, we are the ones that must do it.