COLOMBO, May 6 (Xinhua) -- The World Conference on Youth (WCY) 2014 kicked off on Tuesday in Sri Lanka under the theme of " Mainstreaming Youth in the Post 2015 Development Agenda."
Youth delegates pose for photos before attending the World Conference on Youth (WCY) 2014 in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, May 6, 2014. The WCY 2014 kicked off on Tuesday in Sri Lanka under the theme of "Mainstreaming Youth in the Post 2015 Development Agenda." (Xinhua/Yang Meiju)
Invitees of the event include senior ministers and senior government officials from over 40 countries, national youth delegates representing 169 countries and over 300 youth delegates representing various civil society movements.
President of the United Nations General Assembly John William Ashe, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi and several other heads of the UN agencies also joined in the WCY 2014.
Ashe emphasized during the opening ceremony that youths from the world have to spearhead the next decade of global development, adding the international community has to make youths involved in the trend and stressing that the youths have to participate in decision making.
"There are sections of society that was clearly not included in the previous global development drive," Ashe said, referring to the Millennium Development Goals, adding "this time around we have to make sure that they are involved."
"This is about youth, without you this cannot happen. Do not let this happen the stakes are far higher. You need to get involved. You have to make this about you. Ultimately you have to take part in decision making. Get involved," he said.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, for his part, called on world leaders to be at the forefront of involving youth participation in world development and spearhead new attempts in youth integration.
"You would agree that the increasingly large youth population, who live in the global South, makes it impossible to discuss any follow-up to Rio+20 and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, without considering their needs and challenges," said the president.
He said "the youth of today face an enhanced burden. They need to find a living for themselves, as well as, increasingly care for an ageing population. To ignore this growing trend would entail unmanageable problems for policymakers, national leaders, and the global community alike."
Rajapaksa also noted the primary responsibility to ensure youth participation in development lies with the states. He insisted leaders of countries and policymakers need to consider a number of challenges to make this effort meaningful and successful.
"We have to recognize that today's youth have evolved and need opportunities to participate and contribute to social progress. We need to readjust our traditional and conventional policy making structures, and institutions to accommodate youth participation," he said.
The event, specifically, is focusing on realizing equal access to quality education, full employment and entrepreneurship, poverty eradication and food security, promoting healthy lives and access to health and realizing peace, reconciliation and ending violence, among others.
Through the five-day conference, the WCY 2014 aims to create an inclusive youth participation platform that enables young people to review the progress in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and to facilitate a process that increases awareness on and implementation of the World Program for Action on Youth.
Meanwhile, it also puts an eye on contributing to the establishment of a permanent youth engagement mechanism that ensures consistent follow-up with young people and further boosts their participation and partnership in the implementation of the post-2015 development at all levels.
The WCY 2014 is expected to adopt a joint outcome document between states and youth, the "Colombo Action Plan."