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Port MoresbyA young Papua New Guinean woman recently attended the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum in New York. The Forum centered on the theme of the role of youth in poverty eradication and promoting prosperity in a changing world and discussed ways in which young people can actively implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The youth delegate, Ms. Raylance Mesa, was selected as one of the Youth Champions for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations in Papua New Guinea last year for her rigorous community activities in the Morobe province, tackling issues ranging from climate change to education. Having been nominated as a representative to the Forum, she departed for New York after completing an induction course provided by the United Nations in Papua New Guinea. The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) supported her travel.

Raylance shared Papua New Guinea’s experience, particularly in relation to Goal 2 of SDGs: Food security and sustainable agriculture, and Goal 13: Climate Change. She shared information about the Pacific and was one of few delegates at the Forum from the region, with other participants from around the world.  Her biggest takeaway from the Forum is the power of youth as agents for change.

“The forum has reconfirmed my belief on how crucial it is for the young generation to be part of implementing the Goals. To develop a nation requires more actors than just the government. As the SDGs aim at leaving no one behind, we cannot underestimate ourselves and need to work together to advance our nation’s development agenda," said the young champion.

Together with other three Youth Champions for the SDGs, Raylance is planning to educate others in her community about the importance of advocating for and implementing the Goals.

The United Nations in Papua New Guinea believes that the youth is a valuable partner to bring about positive change to the community and the entire country. “Papua New Guinea is a very young country where almost 30 percent of the population is between the ages of 10 and 24. These young people are active, creative, and innovative. What we need now is to continue to engage with the youth.” said Mr. Roy Trivedy, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Papua New Guinea.