The UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhindawi, along with several youth representatives involved in the World Youth Conference (WYC) 2014, called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday in New York.
The youth representatives briefed President Rajapaksa about the preparations underway for the WYC, which is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka in May 2014. It will be the first time the Conference is being held in an Asian country.
The youth delegation also thanked the President for highlighting youth in his speech at the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly earlier in the week.
"Sri Lanka has mainstreamed youth in its post 2015 development agenda, and is at the forefront of advocating internationally the interests of youth," President Rajapaksa said in his speech.
Sri Lanka will be hosting the Commonwealth Youth Forum 2013 this November and the UN World Conference on Youth in May 2014 and the President in his speech extended an invitation to the member states to join in celebrating youth at the World Conference.
He also called upon the United Nations to declare an International Skills day as recognition of skills development of youth, paving the way for reduced poverty.
"An innovative development has been the establishment of a Youth Parliament to sharpen the awareness of democracy and skills of the new generation and prepare them to assume leadership," the President said when he addressed the 68the session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday (September 25).
The President asked the youth representatives what challenges they were facing to which they responded that actually mobilizing young people and governments was a difficult task.
"The challenge will not be organizing the event," said Mr. Alhindawi. "The challenge would be to make sure there is a legacy for the event."
The Sri Lankan government has committed to undertaking the responsibility in facilitating and leading the processes up to 2014, in organizing the World Youth Conference in Sri Lanka and then setting up a follow-up plan and a mechanism.
Sri Lanka says, as a Member State of the United Nations and in order to fulfill its commitment towards global cooperation and support for youth, it is willing to undertake the financial cost of facilitating and hosting the UN World Youth Conference in 2014.
Global Advisor for WYC Ravi Karkara, Member of the European Youth Forum and Co-Chair for the International Youth Task Force for WCY Lloyd Russel and several other youth delegates were part of the team that met the President.
From Sri Lanka, Director at Sri Lanka's National Youth Services Council Milinda Rajapaksha who is also co-chair for the International Youth Task Force for WCY and UN Youth Delegates Ms. Chapa Perera and Adhil Marker were also a part of the team of youths who met the President.
Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development Dullas Alahapperuma, Director General of the United Nations Division at the Ministry of External Affairs R.K. Lenagala and Minister Counselor at the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Waruna Sri Dhanapala were also present.