8 youths represent Seychelles at the 2017 U.N. Youth Assembly
The eight Seychellois youths ready to embark on their learning experience at the UN Youth Assembly in New York. (Annarose Clarisse)
The conference is being held at the United Nations headquarters from August 9 to 12, although the Seychellois youths have a busy programme that will run until August 16.
The team from Seychelles -- a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean -- includes Annarose Clarisse, Curtis Alvis, Victoria Gao, Kelly Mothe, Raghvai Naidu, Anastasia Pantazopoulou, Bhavini Raghvani and Sanjna Shah.
The Youth Assembly is a platform that aims to foster dialogue and generate partnerships between youths, civil society, the private sector, and the United Nations.
The gathering, which accepts applicants aged 16 to 28, started off as an annual forum in 2002, expanding into a bi-annual conference.
Anastasia Pantazopoulou, who will turn 16 during the conference, is the Seychelles’ youngest participant. Pantazopoulou told SNA that she wanted to attend the UN Youth Assembly to prove to herself and the youth of Seychelles that no matter their country’s status or size they can and should aim to make a difference.
“I hope to gain invaluable experience and knowledge and thus spread this to the youths of Seychelles,” she added.
A sending off ceremony attended by representatives of the United Nations Development Programme in Seychelles, government officials, parents and sponsors was held before the delegates left for New York City.
The eight Seychellois youths took the opportunity to express their appreciation towards their parents, government ministries, and the national youth council who have helped them in their application process, as well as local businesses who have generously sponsored their trip.
They will be joining over 1,000 other young people and guest speakers from across the globe, to explore the cross-cutting issues and propose solutions for sustainable development.
Through their discussions, the delegates will also contribute to global discussions on ways to implement the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Seminars at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Fairleigh Dickinson University also feature on the programme, where they will have the opportunity to propose projects aimed at tackling local and global issues.
For Annarose Clarisse, this is her second participation, as she was the island nation’s only delegate at the UN Youth Assembly held in August 2016.
Clarisse has since set up a non-governmental organisation – UN Youth Seychelles. Through this platform, which has 22 members to date, she has been able to share her experiences with other youths in the island nation and encourage them to take part in such a conference.
“One of our mandates is to ensure that Seychelles is represented at the Youth Assembly by at least two people every year,” she told SNA, adding that she is accompanying this year’s group for guidance.
Clarisse, a law graduate, believes that the gathering provides an array of opportunities for young people to learn through interaction, share views about various issues and to be equipped with knowledge and resources that would allow them to become more active in their respective communities.
“How the young people will use this opportunity is entirely up to them, but what I am sure of is that they will become change makers in whatever field they pursue,” she told SNA.
Through her youth organisation, Clarisse has been able to gather support from other former youth delegates, including two American nationals, who are currently helping to find ways to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Seychelles schools.
Another future project is to organise the first Model United Nations in Seychelles. This is a learning programme aimed at allowing students to get an understanding of the undertakings of the United Nations.
“We would like to get Seychellois youths to represent a country and address global issues. This is a way of developing a lot of good skills and qualities in our young people,” she told SNA.
The 20th session of the Youth Assembly at the United Nations is being held under the theme ‘#Society For All: Equity and Inclusion for a sustainable future.’
The UN Youth Assembly website states: “Guided by the overarching principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ‘leaving no one behind’ the conference will explore cross-cutting issues and solutions for sustainable development in the social, economic, and environmental dimensions.”
The event will also provide delegates with other opportunities including peer mentorship, social venture challenge and the possibility for two among the over 1,000 youths to be presented with the outstanding youth delegate award.