Agostino was one of the panelists at the side-event: Youth Empowered! Enabling Youth Through Social Protection: Education, Employment, Environment. He had to step in for Diallo Fousseynou, a young Senegalese migrant. Diallo could not be present as he was denied a visa to come for the event.
Moderated by Interns at the United Nations, Genevieve Pinnington and Greta Hunt, young panelists Morgan Thobe, Youth Engagement Fellow, UNICEF- USA, Apefa Adjivon, Founder and Executive Director, The Pearl Project, Agostino Sella, President and Founder, Associazione Don Bosco, TVET/CNOS, Saphira Rameshfar, Representative to the United Nations, Baha’i International, Devopriya Dutta, Coordinator, Tarumitra highlighted the initiatives each of them had undertaken to empower young people through education, employment and environmental action. They underlined the fact that these are important elements of social protection.
Questions from the participants to Agostino helped to highlight the charism of Don Bosco which invests in the young, especially those from marginalized communities so that they emerge empowered as leaders of their people to secure a future for themselves and their communities.
The presence of a large contingent of Salesians, namely Bishop Miguel Angel Olaverri Arroniz from Congo, Fr Alphonse Owoudou, Provincial of ATE (Congo), Fr Mark Hyde, Executive Director, and Fr Piotr Gozdalski, from Salesian Missions, Fr Sebastian Chirayath from Kenya, Fr Joseph Amal from Australia, Fr Thomas Pallithanam, the Salesian UN representative, Ms Maggie and Mr Greg from the Salesian Missions – underled the global presence of the Salesians and added a special gravitas and a Salesian flavor to the event.
Of the many important takeaways, one was the call by Saphira Rameshfar – Representative to the UN for Bahai International, an Australian citizen – for a New Societal Order. When called on to elaborate, admitting that it was difficult to define she said, ”a just world could not emerge from going about it in unjust ways.” She added that it would call for more trust in young people, for greater inclusiveness and generosity from them and from everyone else. The panelists also called for creating more space for young people to participate in decision-making.
The side-event was planned as a curtain raiser for the upcoming July High-Level Political Forum that will be reviewing the same themes of Education (SDG 4), Employment (SDG 8), Environment (SDG 13), besides Inequality (SDG 10), Peace and Justice (SDG 16), and International Cooperation (SDG 17) along with the overarching theme of Empowerment, Inclusion and Leaving No One Behind.
The panelists, responding to a final question from Thomas Pallithanam, the Salesian UN Representative, as to what would be their specific policy, from global governance to addressing gaps, and the issue of education, employment and environmental action, they reiterated that besides better implementation of existing policies was the need to involve young people in policy-making.
They, thus, gave a clarion call for greater youth participation in taking forward Agenda 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals.