Swiss UNDP Fund for Youth Closing Reception

06 Dec 2010

Speech for Mr. Shahid Najam
UNDP Resident Representative
Swiss-UNDP (S-UN) Fund for Youth Closing Reception, Ankara

Honorable minister of state Mr. (Faruk Nafiz) Özak,
Honorable Ambassador of Swiss Confederation in Turkey Mr. (Raimund) Kunz,
Director General of Youth and Sports Mr. (Yunus) Akgül,
Local Representatives of grantee organizations,
Young women and men in project teams,  
Dear Guests and Distinguished Participants,


Young people today are the biggest source of the world’s transformation and progress.
The national and global partnerships, which need to be built for reaching the Millennium Development Goals and tackling diverse national development challenges, require the active involvement of young women and men.

Young women and men are key players in building the future of our world, especially as we unfortunately have to leave to our posterity the immense global challenges of our time such as climate change, hunger and poverty.

According to UNDP’s 2008 National Human Development Report on ‘Youth in Turkey,’ the population of young people between 15 and 24 years of age in Turkey exceeds 12 million. This figure is larger than the total population of many countries,’ and it signifies an immense potential for Turkey’s development.

In order to utilize this potential, young people need to be empowered. Their capacities and self-confidence need to be supported. The services and opportunities provided to youth need to be improved and extended in scope. As citizens of society, young people need to be informed about their rights and the channels for asserting them.

UNDP’s 2008 NHDR for Turkey defines groups as ‘invisible youth’, because they remain invisible to policy makers, service providers and the society as a whole. Policies need to address the specific needs of these disadvantaged youth groups in order to integrate young people to society, and make them visible.

The youth are not a monolith. They are a mobile and diverse group with diverse needs and priorities. There are many disadvantaged youth groups which face serious human deprivations. Disabled young people and young women out of education and no prospects for employment, juvenile convicts and detainees, young women under state protection, and the cross-cutting areas within these groups are only some of the diversities. This is combined with the individual difficulties, dreams, and various situations each young person experiences within their lives – and the difficulties or disadvantages they, themselves identify.

I am very pleased to join you here today to share the good practices developed by young stakeholders of the Swiss-UNDP Fund for Youth.

The project was designed to aim for the social adaptation of young people from the disadvantaged youth groups mentioned above, and in particular among the migrant population in Turkey.

The Swiss-UNDP Fund for Youth started being implemented in 2008, with the funds entrusted by the Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation. Over the last two years, the Swiss UNDP Fund reached hundreds of young women and men in pilot provinces, allocating five hundred thousand dollars’ worth of funds to the grant projects.

The youth were empowered through the project by being encouraged to identify their own needs, and develop the projects for the grants being applied for, and later successfully implementing the projects.

Apart from positive results of the supported grant projects, young women and men provided important input for the Swiss-UNDP Fund policy findings on youth participation, which are also being shared today.

These findings and recommendations are built upon existing studies and works conducted and supported by UNDP and the Youth Services Department, as well as works of other youth organizations, academics and UN agencies.

I would like to draw attention to the timing of the Swiss-UNDP Fund. During the recent years, youth activities in Turkey have expanded both in scope and content. Moreover, there are ongoing efforts for developing youth legislation and a national youth policy in Turkey.

The development of a youth policy is very important for young people’s involvement in their society as active citizens. Equally important is to establish a youth participation mechanism, in order to enable the youth policy to address the diverse needs of youth.

I hope that the Swiss-UNDP Fund policy findings and recommendations provide a supplementary source of information in this respect, both for policy makers and people and organizations involved in youth work.

Before concluding my remarks, I would like to thank the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Swiss Embassy in Ankara for providing the resources for realizing the Swiss-UNDP Fund for Youth and for their close coordination.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to the General Directorate of Youth and Sports and the Youth Services Department, for their ownership of this project, as well as their strong cooperation throughout the Swiss-UNDP Fund’s implementation.

Last but not least, I would like to thank to the young women and men, who are here with us today, representing hundreds of their peers being involved in the Swiss-UNDP Fund.

And of course I would like to thank many other institutions (both public institutions and civil society organizations) at the local level, which joined forces with young people in pilot provinces to generate positive results from the grant projects’ implementation.

Thank you.