Delegates: Ms. Sheshadri Kottearachchi (25 years), Mr. Shehan Koshila Kannangara (25 years)
23. Ms. Kottearachchi (Sri Lanka), speaking as a youth delegate, said that for years the responsibility of creating an environment conducive to the development of young people had rested with older generations, but the Sustainable Development Goals had given young people a pivotal role to play. Her country, which had a dedicated sustainable development ministry, strongly believed that young people had the potential to contribute to achieving the Goals. The current Envoy of the Secretary General on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, was from Sri Lanka and had inspired many young people through her activism, particularly as girls in Sri Lanka were often marginalized. Young people defined in the National Youth Policy as those aged between 15 and 29 accounted for close to 23 per cent of the population. They had diverse needs, wants and identities and it was vital, therefore, to engage with them and ensure that they were properly represented.
24. Mr. Kannangara (Sri Lanka), speaking as a youth delegate, said that his country had consistently worked on the issue of youth skills and was proud to have contributed to the declaration of 15 July as World Youth Skills Day. Skills development would yield long term results by bridging the gap between the skills learned at school and university and the skills needed to secure employment. Since 1938, free education had been a fundamental right in Sri Lanka and the literacy rate was 96.3 per cent. However, young people lacked soft skills such as leadership, team work and critical thinking, all of which were critical to enable them to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Government, the National Youth Services Council and the Federation of Youth Clubs were working to address the issue by providing support to young people.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/72/SR.2