The number of youth between the ages of 15 and 24 is 1.1 billion; youth constitute 18 percent of the global population. This percentage is the highest that the world has ever seen and is specifically the reason that countries across the globe and the United Nations are taking up initiatives to promote the voice of the youth. One such initiative was the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Youth which took place between the February 22-26, 2018 in Geneva at the Palas de Nations as a part of the World Investment Forum.
Muhammad Sarim Raza, a BSc Management Science Student at the Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB) and Bareha Abbas, a BSc in Political Science and Economics, at Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humainities and Social Sciences (MGSHSS) were two of the delegates chosen from Pakistan to take part in this conference. “My two years at LUMS has been a journey of self-discovery and learning how to integrate the profit in social change. I was motivated to apply for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and luckily I got selected,” shared Mr. Raza.
Speaking about his experience, Mr. Raza said, “Our five days at the UN were filled with high-level interaction with people from around the world working in Trade and Development related fields. Some key figures that participated as a panelist at the conference were, the General Secretary of Common Wealth, Vice President of Ali Baba Group, First Lady of Botswana and General Secretary of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.”
Ms. Abbas while sharing her experience said, "I got the opportunity to host a session at the UN which focused on discussions surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals. I also got the privilege to be a part of a panel discussing the future of the UN Youth Policy and the Youth Agenda. Overall, it was a great experience that made me reflect upon the idea that I too could make a positive contribution to the betterment of my country."
"The conference focused on encouraging entrepreneurship in all forms and it was heartening to see the contributions that so many inspirational youth are making via their ventures," added Ms. Abbas.
Both the delegates told that the topics that were discussed during these five days were diverse and relevant to the problems faced by the youth today, such as how the skill sets needed for employment are being changed, and how the youth is relying more on entrepreneurship for job creation. “The conference also included the launch of the policy toolkit for youth entrepreneurship in the blue and green economy by the general secretary of the commonwealth. My main participation in this conference was through a presentation on impact investments in Pakistan, and how the private sector is investing in social change for financial returns. Apart from this, I had the opportunity to engage in debates regarding trade and development that took place after every panel discussion."
Ms. Abbas and Mr. Raza added that the conference was a great opportunity to interact with future world leaders about issues that their generation is currently facing and will face in the future.