Photo: Werner Faymann in Salzburg am 3 March 2014. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. - Photo: 2016

Austria’s Ex-Chancellor UN Special Envoy for Youth Employment

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – Three months after being constrained to quit as Chancellor of Austria and head of the country’s Social Democratic Party, Werner Faymann has been named by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a new Special Envoy for Youth Employment.

Faymann was Chancellor of Austria and chairman of the country’s Social Democratic Party from 2008 to 2016. He resigned both posts on May 9, 2016, after losing confidence from a considerable number of party members, after his party’s candidate and the candidate from its coalition partner were both eliminated in the first round of the presidential elections held on April 24, 2016.

With more than 70 million youths unemployed worldwide, Faymann is tasked with tackling the challenge posed by the fact that young people have all the skills and energy needed to contribute to society – but they lack opportunities for decent work.

Fayman (56) will work with the Secretary-General’s Youth Envoy, Ahmad Alhendawi (32), and the UN International Labour Organization (ILO).

Alhendawi of Jordan – first-ever Envoy on Youth and as the youngest senior official in the history of the organization – assumed his position on January 17, 2013 with a mandate to harmonize the UN system efforts on youth development, enhance the UN response to youth needs, advocate for addressing the development needs and rights of young people, as well as to bring the work of the United Nations with and for youth closer to them.

The Envoy on Youth also acts as the advisor to and the representative of the Secretary-General on youth related matters.

Ban’s statement about Faymann as a new Special Envoy was part of “several key initiatives” on International Youth Day, celebrated annually on August 12, to bolster the United Nations’ commitment to work with and for world’s youth. Towards that end, he also announced the formation of an expert group on ‘youth, peace and security’.

In his message on August 12, Ban said: “Young people are directly affected by the tragic contradictions that prevail today: between abject poverty and ostentatious wealth, gnawing hunger and shameful food waste, rich natural resources and polluting industries.”

With these things in mind, he announced the formation of an Advisory Group of Experts for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, as mandated by UN Security Council resolution 2250 (2015), the first such measure to recognize the important and positive role young women and men play in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security.

Nearly half of the group’s members are young, with some having survived conflict, and one that lost her father in war, another who had been shot, and others who were refugees.

The Security Council requested Ban to “to carry out a progress study on the youth’s positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution, in order to recommend effective responses at local, national, regional and international levels”.

The findings and recommendations of the study will be presented to the Council in December 2017, on the second anniversary of the adoption of the resolution.

Delivering his address, A Call to Youth, at the University of Calgary in Canada where he announced the initiatives, Ban said that education is not something to take but be used to give back to the world. “I am here with a call to help us rise to three global challenges: sustainable development, employment and peace,” he said.

The UN and Canada are in sync – especially when it comes to the power of young people to change the world, he said, explaining that the UN with Alhendawi as its first-ever Youth Envoy, and Canada has Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister, the only world leader who is also Minister of Youth.

With more than 70 million unemployed youth around the world, youth can do more than find jobs – they can create them, Ban said.

“Every successful entrepreneur climbed to the top on a stack of failures,” he said. “The trick is to keep climbing. Along the way you will get something more valuable than any material reward. You will gain resilience, confidence and compassion for others.”

“We need you to help generate change. Raise your voices. Prove that youth are not a liability – they are an opportunity. Build trust in your communities. Help the United Nations build peace in our world,” Ban said.

The Secretary-General also said that the UN would name the first-ever class of 17 young leaders for sustainable development from among 18,000 nominations, and bring the winners to the UN Headquarters in forthcoming September.

“All of you can be sustainable development leaders,” he said, stressing that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are comprehensive.

In an opinion released today, Mr. Ban wrote that “these steps may seem small and largely symbolic” because the 17 leaders are just representative of the change needed, the advisory group has only a handful of members, and a new appointment may not seem game-changing. But “incremental progress adds up,” he stressed. [IDN-InDepthNews – 12 August 2016]

Photo: Werner Faymann in Salzburg am 3 March 2014. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

IDN is the flagship of International Press Syndicate

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