National Youth Conference in South Sudan


Engaging with the young in a young country.

An optimistic view on the power of youth to foster positive change unites participants at the first National Youth Conference in South Sudan co-convened by UNESCO.

After decades of conflict most of its young people are poor, have little education, and lack access to health care and other basic social services. Few jobs are available for them. Now we need to listen to their voices, in deciding how to take the country forward and give them a more positive future.

A fine start was made when over 200 young people from across the country came together for the first National Youth Conference held in Juba, South Sudan, on 29 and 30 August 2018. UNESCO and other UN organizations joined with local bodies in convening it. The participants included people of both genders, and a range of ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, who debated the theme ‘Promotion of Youth Voices for Sustainable Peace and Development in South Sudan’ and put their proposals to the decision-makers from inside and outside South Sudan who attended and spoke.

South Sudan is the world’s newest nation, and has one of the youngest populations, with over 70 per cent aged under 30.

What do South Sudan’s young people want? All those participating signed up at the end to a Youth Declaration, which emphasizes that they want to be not just consulted but meaningfully engaged in the nation-building and peace process. They want better opportunities to gain skills through technical and vocational education and training, and to obtain secure employment so they and their families can thrive. They also understand sports, arts and culture as mechanisms for building peace, and want to see them promoted effectively.

UNESCO’s Youth Space Initiatives (YSI) aim to create sustainable platforms for youth engagement, and strengthen existing ones. Plans to build on the achievements of the conference include the launch of a South Sudan YSI and a series of youth-led activities.

By youth, with youth, for youth

Youth have the creativity, the potential and the capacity to make change happen

Global Youth Community

The UNESCO Global Youth Community (GYC) is an inclusive platform, run by youth and for youth.