ADDRESS OF THE HONOURABLE MINISTER, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF YOUTH AND SPORT DEVELOPMENT, SUNDAY DARE AT THE OCCASION OF THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 2021 INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY HELD AT THE LADI KWALI HALL SHERATON HOTEL, ABUJA OF AUGUST 12, 2021
I am highly delighted as Nigerian youth today, join their counterparts across the world to celebrate the 2021 International Youth Day Celebration. You may be aware that in 1999, the United Nations General Assembly resolution 54/120 endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers of Youth in Lisbon, Portugal, (8 -12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day to celebrate the role and contributions of young people to the development of their societies and nations in general. The day also provides an opportunity to celebrate young peoples’ achievements and initiatives as well as reflect on their challenges on a global scale with the hope of addressing them.
2. According to the Concept Note for the 2021 International Youth Day, young people hold a crucial role as we work towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and related frameworks. Recent global priorities have centered on fighting the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration. Many nations including our country Nigeria, have witnessed young people’s unprecedented mobilization around the world, which has shown the massive power they possess to hold decision-makers accountable.
3. The International Youth Day therefore, constitutes part of the United Nation’s broader World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), an initiative targeted at promoting the general wellbeing and livelihood of young people with priority focused on education, employment, poverty and hunger, the environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure-time activities, health, girls and women, HIV/AIDS, Information and Communication Technology, Inter-generational issues, armed conflict, the mixed impact of globalization, and the full and effective participation of the youth in socio-economic development and in decision making process.
4. The theme for this year’s celebration: “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health” seeks to highlight the urgency of transforming food systems, particularly in the wake of a global pandemic. The theme also identifies youth engagement as a key factor to the transformation of food systems. This is in realization of the fact that success of such a global effort may not be achieved without the meaningful involvement and participation of young people.
5. Without any iota of doubt, we now know that Youth innovation Is a Catalyst needed to drive Development in all it’s ramifications. With the increasing uptake of technology as an enabler by a huge number of the younger generation, the innovative minds and skills of the youth will serve as the fuel for development.
6. Our world is increasingly technology driven by a youthful generation of brilliant and innovative minds who are daring and ready to discover new frontiers through innovation. From fintech, to E-medicine, e-agriculture, solar energy systems, digital arts, digital marketing, robotics and artificial intelligence, the youth hold sway. The theme for this years international youth day celebration “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”.
7. Speaks to using innovation to solve problems, to protect human Health and to drive the global agenda. We must support out your in their bold endeavours.Why not let us start by giving them a seat at the table. A chance at the foot in the door and begin the streamlining of their ideas. We must challenge them to new frontiers and provide them with the tools and support they need. We must equally demand from our youth a refocused mindset that sees government and the Public service as collaborators and not adversaries. This conversation is ongoing.
8. All over the world currently, agriculture is facing major challenges of feeding a growing world population, the need to addressrural poverty, and the management of ecosystem goods and services in light of global environmental changes caused by climate change. Food systems as mentioned in the theme, does not only mean the basic elements of how we get food from farms to the table, but also, the processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population, and the environmental degradation that can occur in the process, such as air and ocean pollution as well as desertification.
9. Population health is also key in addressing food systems challenges, especially as nutrition-related chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer are major contributors to the global burden of disease.
- In line with the theme for this year’s celebration, therefore we at the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports are of belief that when the youth are properly educated, engaged, with their innovation and entrepreneurial solutions, they will continue to play a very significant role in the actualization of the 2030 Agenda which include poverty reduction; social inclusion; health care; biodiversity conservation; and climate change mitigation. The Ministry, therefore uses the opportunity of this celebration to echo the voices of the youth and also assure them that Government is committed to working towards more equitable food systems with their full involvement and participation.
- The President Muhammadu Buhari led administration through the Ministry, line MDAs and other partners will step up awareness creation to enable our youth make informed decisions on food choices in line with the increasing global education on the healthiest and most sustainable options for both individuals and the environment. Government will create the enabling environment and inclusive support mechanisms to ensure that the youth continue to amplify efforts collectively and individually to restore the planet and protect life, while integrating biodiversity in the transformation of food systems in line with the objectives of this year’s celebration.
- Presently ongoing is the training of close to 5,000 Nigerian youth across the six geopolitical zones of the week in critical areas of green stimulus, digital skills, AI and Robotics and clean and renewable energy.
- I want to conclude this address with the words of Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Food Systems Summit and I quote: “We cannot implement the science without also addressing questions of access, equality and finance, and we cannot build a better future for tomorrow without including the youth of today”.
- On this note Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to specially appreciate the leadership of the UNFPA under the Country Representative, the diligent and delectable Ms Ulla Elisabeth Mueller for the continuous support of the International Youth Day in Nigeria and many other youth programmes of the Ministry. At this year’s celebration, UNFPA was immersed right from the planning stage offering constructive criticism and providing huge funding support to ensure we have a celebration that is worthwhile.
- I sincerely thank all our partners and line MDAs for honouring us with your esteemed presence on this special Day. Once again, I wish all Nigerian youth happy International Youth Day celebration.
- Thank you and God bless you all.