Honourable Uz. Fayyaz Ismail, Minister of Economic Development
Honourable Zaha Waheed, Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture
Deputy Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Mr. Mohamed Azmeel
Managing Director of Business Centre Corporation, Ms. Fathmath Fazleena Fakir
And all the participants of this National Dialogue, ladies and gentlemen,
Assalaamu alaikum and a very good morning to you all!
With our Youth Population making up for a greater percentage of the population in the world, young people’s positive contribution has become very significant in our journey towards achieving SDGs.
All SDG goals are relevant to the youth population, as SDG is about sustainable development for the future generation.
But in particular, let me highlight the importance of SDG targets 4.4 and 8.5: By 2030, increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship; and 8.5, By 2030 achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
These targets articulate well the importance of the young population in participating to shape the future of jobs. We should also ensure to embrace diverse young groups: women, men, persons with disabilities – based on the Leave No One Behind principle.
In the context of Maldives, UNDP held Youth Vision workshops across the country at the end of last year, where we were able to discuss with young people about their priorities for the future.
One issue that echoed in all the regions, was the limited opportunities that young people had for employment and to earn a living for themselves. For instance, in one island, a civil service job vacancy had received over 200 applications as there were not many jobs available.
Increasing number of young people seem either out of jobs or migrating for better opportunities, and women still, face more challenging situations due to societal expectations to be the caregiver of the family and restrictions on their mobility.
This is further compounded by the geographical dispersion of the country and the threat from climate change which is already affecting women’s traditional livelihood such as agriculture and farming.
A key approach to addressing this issue is through fostering entrepreneurship. Not only does this provide a livelihood for many but paves way for new opportunities for women to participate in the labor force while accelerating the economic growth in the country.
While the economy in Maldives has been growing due to development of tourism sector and investments in infrastructure, there also exists a great need to diversify and expand the economy to include other industries.
We need a new generation of entrepreneurs to step forward, to think out of the box and pave way for new industries to thrive.
But most importantly, it is with such entrepreneurial thinking and innovation that we can create solutions to social and development issues in the country and accelerate our progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Before I conclude, I would like to share with you all an inspiring story of a15-year-old named Reyhan from Azerbaijan Determined to solve the problem of energy deficiency in rainy and low-income countries and to illuminate the world, Reyhan had built a startup, harvesting energy from rainwater to produce electricity.
It is my hope that the discussions we have here today would create an enabling environment where the young Reyhan’s in Maldives can test out their innovative ideas and make a positive change in our island nation.
Lastly, I would like to stress that there are great social movements by young people in areas ranging from climate change to entrepreneurship. This event is also a part of a regional network. I encourage you to reach out to be part of bigger global and regional youth movements to be a positive change agent for SDG. I wish you all the best and hope that you will have constructive and dynamic discussions on this very important matter.