Dr. Dirk Hänisch

IJAB Members’ Assembly discusses UN sustainability goals

On 8 December 2015 IJAB’s member organisations congregated in Bonn for the Members’ Assembly. One of the main points of discussion was the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically its significance for international youth work and youth policy cooperation. The Assembly also elected a new Management Board for IJAB.

from left: Dr. Herbert Wiedermann (Vice-Chairman), Marie-Luise Dreber (Director), Martin Schönwandt (Vice-Chairman) and Lothar Harles (Chairman)
from left: Dr. Herbert Wiedermann (Vice-Chairman), Marie-Luise Dreber (Director), Martin Schönwandt (Vice-Chairman) and Lothar Harles (Chairman) BildImage: Christian Herrmann

IJAB Chairman Lothar Harles emphasised that new political, social and ecological developments call for a more intense debate on the future of Europe and of international youth work. Sustainability is necessary when it comes to improving relations with North Africa, so that perspectives can be created for IJAB’s partners in the region and the partnership given greater continuity. In light of the global challenges for European and international youth policy cooperation, attention also has to be given to addressing social and ecological aspects.

Dr Silke Weinlich from the German Development Institute (DIE) then provided an overview of the developments leading up to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their planned implementation, and the significance of the Agenda for youth policy. She considered the SDGs to be the best existing framework of reference for mobilising and promoting civic engagement. Dr Weinlich recommended that the Members’ Assembly engage actively in shaping the current national political process in this field and in turn, influence the implementation strategy. German UN Youth Delegate Carina Lange joined the meeting via videolink and spoke on the matter from a youth policy perspective. Lange welcomed the fact that the SDGs would require all countries, whether developing, emerging or industrialised, to make changes. “Where the SDGs are concerned, we’re all developing countries that need to work together on a level playing field,” she said.

In the discussion that followed, participants stated that while the SDGs are worthy goals in general, regrettably the 2030 Agenda makes hardly any mention of the younger generation which, after all, is the largest population group. It would have been desirable to have national youth policy recommendations included in the document. Carina Lange felt it was important “to mainstream youth” so the needs of young people would be considered in all of the SDGs. Dr Weinlich’s appeal to take the 2030 Agenda seriously and integrate it firmly in international youth work, despite certain inconsistencies, was met by the Assembly with universal approval. Those present also unanimously agreed that the 2030 Agenda provided a valuable point of reference for international youth work.

After a discussion of the project reports and the work programme for 2016-2018 and a presentation on the state of play of the reform of the Federal Government’s Child and Youth Plan, the agenda called for elections to the Management Board. Lothar Harles (Association of Catholic-Social Education Centres in the Federal Republic of Germany) was re-elected Chairman. As Vice-Chairmen, the members elected Martin Schönwandt (German Sports Youth), Dirk Thesenvitz (German Federal Youth Council) and Dr. Herbert Wiedermann (Working Party of the Highest Youth and Family Authorities of the Länder). One seat remained vacant and will be filled at the next Members’ Assembly.

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