Sierra Leone Statement at the UN ECOSOC Youth Forum Opening Plenary Meeting on “Progressing from Poverty to Prosperity: Youth as Agents of Change”


H.E. Mr. Mohamed Orman Bangura

Honourable Guests, Esteemed Panelists, Youth Leaders, and Development Partners,

Today, we convene under the auspices of a critical theme that is central to global development and peace: “Progressing from Poverty to Prosperity: Youth as Agents of Change.” This session is pivotal in highlighting the urgent need for targeted interventions to address multidimensional poverty, particularly through empowering our young people as catalysts for sustainable change.

In Sierra Leone, our commitment to eradicating poverty through youth empowerment has been both steadfast and strategic. Recognizing the challenges outlined in the United Nations Secretary-General’s Report on Youth Peace and Security, we have endeavoured to transform these challenges into opportunities for our youth. Our efforts align with the global mandate to amplify youth participation in political, economic, and social spheres as essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The multidimensional aspect of poverty encompasses not just economic deprivation but also lacks access to education, healthcare, and decent work. In Sierra Leone, we have taken significant steps to mitigate these by integrating youth-centered policies that focus on education, skill development, and entrepreneurship. These initiatives are designed not only to uplift but also to harness the potential of our youth, making them principal stakeholders in national development.

Youth face numerous obstacles ranging from inadequate access to resources to limited inclusion in decision-making processes. To overcome these, Sierra Leone has implemented programs like the Youth in Agriculture Scheme and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme, which provide both the tools and platforms for young people to excel and contribute effectively to our economy.

Understanding that sustainable development requires a collaborative approach, Sierra Leone has fostered partnerships across governmental sectors, the United Nations, and various NGOs to create a cohesive support network for youth initiatives. These partnerships are crucial in constructing a resilient infrastructure that supports youth development and empowerment.

In our pursuit of solutions, we champion the ethos of Pan-Africanism, advocating that African problems require African solutions, spearheaded by African leadership. It is through our united efforts and shared vision that we can effectively address the unique challenges facing our continent and craft pathways that are both culturally resonant and contextually appropriate for our people.

As we chart the course from poverty to prosperity, let us be guided by the collective resolve to empower our youth, who are not just the leaders of tomorrow but the pioneers of today. Their dynamic involvement is crucial to breaking the cycles of poverty and setting the foundations for a prosperous future.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

Thank you for your commitment to this transformative cause, and I look forward to the innovative solutions that will emerge from our deliberations.

I thank you.

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