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Agenda 2030 Goals are Life Goals – UNESCO Special Envoy Forest Whitaker

UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, Forest Whitaker, the renowned multiple award winning film actor, along with a UNESCO Delegation led by UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Ms. Nada Al-Nashif and the Director of Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WDPI) Ms. Caroline Descombris visited Uganda from 7th to 12th February 2017.

The purpose of the visit was to consolidate the Harmonizer Programme of WDPI, which was launched in Uganda in 2012 and to advocate for the SDGs. The Programme, which trains young people in conflict resolution, leadership, peace and community building as well as mediation skills to promoter inner healing, is currently being implemented in Northern Uganda and will now be extended to Kiryandongo District. The delegation was welcomed to Uganda by the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Rosa Malango who accompanied the delegation during the visit to Hope North to meet young peacemakers from Uganda and South Sudan as well as to Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement. The Special Envoy met youth, partners and stakeholders including NGOs, Government Officials and development partners in Kiryandongo, Gulu and Kampala.

“I am excited to be here to see the work we are doing with the young people. We try to support the ideas that the youth in Uganda and other parts of the world have to improve their lives,” said Mr. Whitaker at media briefing at the UN Offices in Kampala on 8th February 2017. Considering the youth bulge in Uganda and the African continent, Whitaker who is a member of the Advocacy Group for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), emphasized the need to support young people’s ideas, especially those that bring to life the SDGs. “People need to understand that they share the responsibility in each of these goals. These are goals of life,” he said. Mr. Whitaker’s work with young people is particularly significant in Uganda given that Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world with 70% of the population below 30 years of age.

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Ms. Nada Al-Nashif emphasized that young people have to be part of national dialogues and interventions drawn from the demand side. She also hailed Uganda for the commitment to refugees and the model that looks after refugees with dignity.

With Uganda currently hosting over a million refugees and with a settlement approach that has become a global model, the UN Resident Coordinator, Rosa Malango, noted that different SDGs are about improving the quality of life at national, regional and global levels. She recognized the importance of involving young people as economic stakeholders who can contribute to an African continent where youth will see no reason to leave to continent as they will be able to freely move among the African States to learn, work and for tourism. In this context supporting emerging entrepreneurship among the youth is important especially taking into consideration that in Uganda alone, according to the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, 80% of graduates from tertiary institutions are not able to find work. “We need an African continent where young people are born in Uganda, study in Tanzania and can work in Nigeria,” Malango said.

The United Nations system in Uganda programmes in support of youth in Uganda is undertaken through the following 10 agencies: UNCDF, FAO, UNWOMEN, ILO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNV, UNAIDS, OHCHR and UNIDO. As of December 2016, these agencies had a combined core investment of $30 million in Youth Programming in Uganda in the following thematic areas: a) Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy; b) Sexual Reproductive Health; c) Agriculture and Livelihoods; d) Skills and Employment; e) Governance and Participation; and f) Data, Statistics and Policy. Additional investments have been made in other areas through core interventions.

UN Agencies in Uganda