Young people at the Generation for Change launch in Iveagh House, Dublin (Pic: Jason Clarke).
“I live with my parents and can’t afford to move out because there is a lack of affordable housing.”
“Insecure employment has been a defining feature of my 20s. I have emigrated twice during my 20s”
Poverty, quality employment and homelessness are among the issues most concerning young people in Ireland. That’s according to a new report on young people and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched by Ireland’s UN Youth Delegates in Iveagh House, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin today (25.04.18). The launch aims to highlight youth issues for the Irish Government ahead of its Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the July 2018 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
The report ‘A Generation for Change’ is the outcome of a year of consultation carried out by Ireland’s youth delegates to the UN, Lauren Flanagan (24) from Manor Kilbride, County Wicklow and Paul Dockery (22) from Dromod in County Leitrim. It includes quantitative data from over 600 young people surveyed, as well material from consultations at over 22 youth events including the National SDG Youth Summit in Croke Park last November.
Speaking at today’s launch, Ms Lauren Flanagan said: “This report provides a snapshot of some of the main issues that young people in Ireland face; the issues they are most concerned about globally; and how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development may offer a road map to tackling some of these key concerns.”
Mr Paul Dockery said: “The aim of this report was to give young people a voice on the issues that matter to them most and bring their voices to the attention of the policy makers, politicians, diplomats and international institutions like the UN.
“We can be the first generation to end extreme poverty, the most determined generation in history to end injustice and inequality, and the last generation to be threatened by climate change. This is a really important time to listen to young voices and to empower young people to be a force for good in Ireland and in the world.”
Also speaking at the event Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, TD, said:
“I would like to welcome and to thank Lauren and Paul, for all of the hard work and research they have put into this report and for being such exemplary representatives for Ireland over their terms as UN Youth Delegates.
The issues raised in the report are of great importance and, indeed, some are issues that we are yet to fully tackle here at home. It is through this understanding that one is quickly reminded that theSDGs are not merely a series of objectives intended for developing countries, this is a universal agenda and the Goals help us all see and work towards bringing about needed changes in our own society. These are goals that we share globally.
Young people have perhaps the most important role to play as this is the world, and the Ireland, that they will inherit, and their voice has every right to be heard across all Government departments,” concluded Minister McEntee.
In her speech, Ms Flanagan also noted that the opinions expressed in the report highlighted that the SDGs are not only for countries ‘over there’ but often touch on issues much closer to home:
Poverty and homelessness/housing
‘Homeless numbers are rising to ridiculous levels. We need to care for our homeless … I think that our Government forgets that they are people … They need assistance, not just a bed. The cycle needs to end’. – Young survey respondent
‘Mostly, the cost of living versus wages. The inability to save for investment or a future. … Rent and house prices are a huge obstacle for young people’. – Young survey respondent
‘Money is very tight. Government grant is not enough. I have to work 32 hours per week (to the detriment of my studies) and attend a level 8 college course full-time in order to be able to afford rent and heating’. – Young survey respondent
‘It astounds me how there can be so much wealth in such a small percentage of the world’s population, and yet there is still such poverty for the people living in developing countries’ Young survey respondent.
‘We are not giving asylum seekers the chance to have a comfortable life. We must allow them to work and we must give them the resources to do so.’ – Young survey respondent
“Unemployment, insecure and short-term employment has been a defining feature of my 20s. I have emigrated twice during my 20s’”. ’ – Young survey respondent.
‘My little brother is disabled and there’s nothing for him. My mam had to give up work to care for him. He could lead a better life’ – Young survey respondent.
‘I fear that I am not ready to take on the world after school. There’s so much I don’t know. The fear of making wrong decision, the fear of not knowing what to do. I wish school taught us more about small common things to prepare us for these fears’ – Young survey respondent.
‘I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been groped without my consent in public by men and/or shouted at and harassed in the street. My experience reporting this to the Gardaí has been very negative. I’ve felt like it’s not taken seriously and instead I’ve been made to feel like it’s my fault for being out “late” or that it wasn’t a big deal’. – Young survey respondent.
The report details issues that are affecting young people at a local and global level; how these issues relate to the SDGs; and Ireland’s commitments in relation to these. It aims to bring these issues to the attention of the Government departments with lead responsibility for the SDGs (the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) to put forward a youth perspective in advance of Ireland’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the July 2018 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
Now in its third year, the UN Youth Delegate programme is run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Irish Aid, and the NYCI. It aims to ensure that young people are more involved in decision making at the UN, and that the views of young people in Ireland are taken into account.
The National Youth Council of Ireland is a member-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people. www.youth.ie
The research underpinning this report is the result of 22 semi-structured meetings and focus group meetings in Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Dublin, and a survey with over 600 respondents. More detail on methodology available in full report https://www.youth.ie/nyci/Generation-Change