Kenya: Delegates at UN-Habitat’s second Youth Blue Economy Conference call for action on jobs

By Unhabitat.org

Over 250 youth met with representatives of the private sector, government and the UN to explore ways to boost young people’s employment in the Blue Economy at the second conference on youth and the Blue Economy.

The youth at the two day conference, entitled Pathways to the Blue Economy, agreed to set up a Pathways Taskforce for Youth and the Blue Economy to mobilize governments, local authorities, private sector and other stakeholders to support youth. The conference, which took place a few days before the official opening of the first UN-Habitat Assembly, was supported by UN-Habitat, the Canadian High Commission in Kenya and the Commonwealth Youth Programme.

“The taskforce’s overall goal will be to take forward the great work of youth and both youth Blue Economy conferences and ensure that youth in Kenya and globally are fully engaged in the Blue Economy,” stated Elly Savatia, who at 18 was the youngest delegate at the conference held at the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) where UN-Habitat has its headquarters. “We need more than conferences – we need action!”

The Taskforce will create a Youth and Blue Economy Fund called “Youth Blue”– to support youth-led enterprises and startups. It will also develop Youth and the Blue Economy policy guidelines, through a consultative process, and drawing from previous conferences and ensure the private sector involved in the Blue Economy hires youth.

UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Victor Kisob addresses youth delegates of the Pathways to the Blue Economy conference in Nairobi

“My team together with Canadian High Commission, Youth Congress, Government of Kenya and indeed all of you will work together to establish this Taskforce and create a programme to address the areas highlighted,” said the UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif, “I am optimistic that the programme will provide opportunities within the Blue Economy to increase youth employment.”

Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya, H.E. Lisa Stedelbauer, expressed her country’s full support to ensure youth involvement in the Blue Economy.

“We are so excited to be partnering with you on this event. The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference was such a great success; we need to keep the momentum going,” stated Ms. Stedelbauer, “Did you know that there are 350,000 jobs in the Blue Economy in Canada? How many can be created in Kenya? Through partnerships with the private sector we can help to create jobs for the youth in the Blue Economy.”

Conference delegates engaged with over 25 private sector groups World Urban Cafés.featuring private sector hosts who shared their “pathway” on how they established their business.

Representatives from the Government of Kenya expressed their strong support.

“The Government will continue to develop and build capacity for the youth in the Maritime Sector,” stated Raymond Ochieng, Kenya’s Secretary for Youth Affairs, “This entails educating and motivating the youth to study the maritime domain, that will ultimately increase the output value of the industry. To this effect, my Ministry plans to allocate significant support to youth programmes in the Blue Economy.”

Speakers at the forum moderated by Raphael Obonyo, UN-Habitat’s former Youth Advisory Board member, included Ms. Susan Njau, Director, Youth Affairs in Kenya, Manu Chandaria, business entrepreneur and philanthropist, and several representatives from youth-led organizations. The UN-Habitat’s first Conference on Youth and the Blue Economy was held last November at UNON ahead of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference.

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