The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi recently spent a week visiting China at the invitation of the All-China Youth Federation. He was joined by a joint UN delegation of senior youth experts from UNESCO, UNV, UNEP, UN Habitat, ILO, and UNFPA to advance collaboration on youth development in China.
During the visit, a special dialogue was organized by the UNV Field Unit in China between the Youth Envoy and Chinese national UN Volunteers. Ms. Manon Bernier, UNV Regional Manager for Asia and the Pacific hosted the meeting which included Mr. Patrick Haverman, Deputy Country Director of UNDP China and Mrs. Zhang Xiaodan, Programme Assistant with UNV Field Unit in China.
Representing China’s youth, the national UN Volunteers, who serve in UNDP, UNWOMEN, UNICEF, UNRCO in China and the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC) had a number of questions to put to the Envoy on Youth. They ranged from how young people could engage effectively in the UN’s efforts, how to increase youth participation to help alleviate child poverty and support community-based disaster management, to what role UN Volunteers can play in harmonizing the communication between UN agencies and Government players
The Youth Envoy emphasized that as a country with the second largest population of young people, China has abundant youth resources and is playing a significant role in promoting youth engagement in social development. The Youth Envoy suggested the UNV Field Unit in China develop deeper cooperation with the All-China Youth Federation on upcoming youth development priorities, and that it encourage and mobilize more youth to contribute to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.
At the same time, the Youth Envoy expressed his in-depth affinity to voluntary work by sharing his own volunteering experiences. As the first-ever Envoy on Youth and also the youngest senior official in the history of the organization, the Youth Envoy expressed his respect for the UN Volunteers who contribute their efforts to the UN’s endeavors and also spoke highly of the active role Chinese youth played during the Beijing Olympic and Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.
“In my opinion, volunteering is a magic way to gain more than one gives” said Mr. Alhendawi. He noted that UN Volunteers gain on-site knowledge and experience by carrying out their volunteer assignments, which enhance their career development. The experience also provides a solid foundation for professional life within the UN system, if they wish to pursue one.
The Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth was established by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in January 2013 to address youth issues. Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi of Jordan is his first ever Envoy on Youth and the youngest senior official in the history of the organization.
Mr. Alhendawi assumed his position bringing a wealth of experience working on youth issues at the national, regional and international levels. The mandate of the Envoy is to harmonize efforts by the UN System on youth development, enhance the UN’s response to youth needs, advocate for addressing the development needs and rights of young people, as well as to speak for youth within the UN System.