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    “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health” on International Youth Day 2021

    Generation Z 11 August 2021 394

    2 billion young people populating the earth are sensitive and responsive to today’s achievements and issues. At the same time, they acknowledge these success stories and problems of today will reverberate in the near future when they will be thinking about building a career, settling down, or starting a family. Ignoring the potential of nearly one third of the planet would equal to wasting the biggest renewable resource provided to humanity.

    With this in mind, global community has decided to celebrate its young population, their diversity, inclusion, ideas, aspirations, and ambitions. 12th August has been designated to flaunt the achievements in this direction and setting goals for future.

    In this year, the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as international community has decided to celebrate 21st milestone of this important day in an unprecedented manner.

    Patron of International Youth Day in international arena UN, whose Resolution 54/120 from 1999 established the day, has proposed a new direction and theme in celebration of this day around the globe. The theme of the International Youth Day around the world for 2021 is set to beTransforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”. Issues related to food systems around the world were highlighted as one of the top three issues worth the attention of global youth community during the 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum along with COVID-19 pandemic and protecting the environment. The aim is to design more equitable food systems which should improve the resilience of foods systems around the world against ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, its outcomes, and consequences, as well as any other force majeure situations that might arise in near future. International Youth Day events planned for this year are expected to set the foundations for capacity building in the mentioned field by spurring youth engagement, education, innovation, and entrepreneurial solutions directed at food systems.

    As a country with relatively young population, Uzbekistan has never been ignorant of youth issues. Yet, official impetus for bringing these problems to the vanguard of state politic was given in the speech of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, where the Head of state proposed to launch global initiatives to protect the rights of youth, to establish a Special Rapporteur on youth rights within UN, as well as initiated the idea of organizing World Conference on Youth Rights under the auspices of the UN. Currently, youth and youth related initiatives constitute on of the five pillars of state policy and Strategy for development in Uzbekistan. First phase of the Strategy (2017-2021) announced 30th of June as National Youth Day in Uzbekistan and announced the establishment of State Prizes “Mard O’g’lon” (Braveheart), and “Kelajak Bunyodkori” (Architect of Future) for young people who demonstrated their abilities and potentials early in life.

    With the hindsight of global COVID-19 pandemic, rapid changes in climate, shifts in political balance around the world, issues arising in population management, green development and governance, the role of the owners of tomorrow has become highlighted. Involvement of those who will have to own the consequences of decisions made today has become imperative. COVID-19 pandemic itself has thrown global development out of its tracks. Millions of people have been pushed back into poverty which has affected the access of young people to basic educational and medical services. A lot of youth have been forced to quit their plans for tertiary education opting to go into paid labor in the aftermath of the pandemic to support their family and themselves. In addition, rapidly unravelling consequences of the thousands years of environmental mismanagement has young people worried about the nature of problems they will have to deal with in future.

    Therefore, united voice of young people on matters that will shape the tomorrow of the planet and the people living on this planet is necessary. World Conference on Youth Rights is expected to do just that to provide a platform to discuss the role of youth in sustainable development and implementation of national SDGs in the context of the impact of СOVID-19 on vulnerable youth groups, to exchange views on improving the effectiveness of protection and promotion the rights of young people and supporting their participation in civic and political activities and more.

    Uzbekistan has hosted several international events that dedicated to youth rights with the participation of the UN, OSCE, OIC, and the CIS to further the reforms in par with international standards. In particular, in June 2018, Tashkent welcomed participants of international conference on the topic “The role of youth in preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalism leading to terrorism”, which was attended by the United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake.

    At the regional level, within the framework of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, on September 7-8, 2019, the Sixth international seminar of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission was held on the theme “The importance of promoting and protecting the rights of youth for building peaceful democratic societies and sustainable development”. During the event, participants welcomed Uzbekistan as one of the fast-track countries for implementation of UN Youth Strategy. In addition, participants of the 6thinternational seminar adopted the outcome document – the Tashkent Declaration on the Rights of Youth of the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

    On the 20th anniversary of the International Youth Day, as well as a part of the UN75 initiative, Uzbekistan has held a large-scale event - the Samarkand Forum on Human Rights “Youth 2020: Global Solidarity, Sustainable Development and Human Rights”. At the 72nd UN General Assembly, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan proposed the development of the UN International Convention on Youth Rights. A Draft International Convention on the Rights of Youth has been prepared and the document received wide approval and support of international community in the framework of the Samarkand Forum. Furthermore, the Forum also discussed the important and positive role of youth in sustainable development, preventing crisis and ensuring gender equality, realizing human rights and building a culture of peace, which are incorporated into the UN Strategy “Youth-2030”.

    This year, in order to create a platform for young people to discuss ideas, priorities, solutions and innovations, create a unique platform for jointly solving common challenges the Government of Uzbekistan with the support of the Office of the UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in partnership with others International and youth organizations will host the World Conference on Youth Rights on 12-13 August 2021 on the theme: “Engaging Youth in Global Action”.

    Objectives of the conference that is scheduled to bring together the brightest minds and the most influential activists in Tashkent on International Youth Day include developing measures to support wider access to quality education and health care, identifying ways to improve young people's access to decent and productive employment, improving existing international and regional instruments and mechanisms to protect and promote the rights of youth among others.

    During the conference over 500 participants are expected to descend to Tashkent to discuss issues around role of youth in sustainable development, civic and political activities of young people, access to employment, education, and healthcare over a two-day period. At the same time, many more participants will be able to join the conference virtually from around the world and follow the events over online resources.

    The conference is expected to streamline efforts in protecting youth rights around the globe by bringing all key players and international partners on the same page regarding the state of affairs in this field and best directions to take for future. Identification of strategic priorities for the foreseeable future and drafting a set of measures to address the priorities will help to achieve the most with the available resources and fast-track the integration of youth rights into all government policies across the board.

    Robiya Arslonova
    Senior Specialist, National Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights