This week, the representatives of governments, civil society organisations and businesses will meet in New York for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) under the theme "Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet". The event presents a host of opportunities to connect, discuss and debate on social, humanitarian and cultural challenges facing the world.
The UNGA follows the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) held in July which aimed at creating a monitoring and review network for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Working to achieve the SGDs
CYFI firmly believes that financial inclusion and Economic Citizenship Education (ECE) for children and youth is integral to the achievement of many of the SDGs, especially in SDG 1 (Poverty Reduction) and 5 (Gender Empowerment), which were among the focus SDGs of the 2017 HLPF.
Together, financial inclusion and financial education help children and youth to accumulate savings and develop responsible financial behaviours, qualities that are useful to reducing the impact of economic shocks. Savings can be used at the microeconomic level, to provide a solid asset base for the household, and at the macroeconomic level, rendering more stability to the overall economy. Furthermore, with the skills acquired through social and livelihoods education, children and youth learn to diversify their income and draw on social networks, thus lowering the impact of fluctuations in household income. In addition, financial access and developing financial capabilities for young women and girls increases social and economic empowerment, allowing them to take advantage of greater economic opportunities alongside their male counterparts. In turn, empowering women to have greater control over their finances advances the goal of gender equality.
CYFI is constantly promoting economic citizenship for children and youth within the Sustainable Development Agenda, recognizing that young people are a decisive factor in achieving these ambitious goals. CYFI stands alongside other organizations, such as Restless Development, Save the Children and the Commonwealth Secretariat, arguing that children and youth deserve the opportunity to be involved in helping, guiding and monitoring the realization of the SDGs goals.
How UNGA representatives can commit to youth empowerment
Since the introduction of the SDGs in 2015, progress has been made by a number of countries to end all forms of poverty, reduce inequality and tackle climate change by 2030. There are many initiatives that have led to improvements in the various SDGs, but the commitment of governments must continue if the goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda are to be achieved by 2030. Governments have the responsibility to the next generation to provide greater quality education, entrepreneurial support and an environment conducive to Child and Youth Friendly Banking.
Moreover, CYFI calls on government authorities assembled at the UNGA to:
· Create or continue cooperation through national multi-stakeholder platforms (government, private, public and academic sector) that actively engages the voices of youth.
· Develop and implement national strategies that combine financial access, and financial, social, and livelihoods educational elements with a clear focus on the unique needs of children and youth.
· Identify legal and regulatory barriers that are preventing children and youth from accessing financial services and work on removing them.
· Invest significantly in school banking models that use the public school system to bring together Child and Youth Friendly banking products and ECE related programming, in partnership with financial service providers and qualified educators.
· Invest more in the design and delivery of ECE programs that are targeted for pre-school and primary school children, in line with research findings that emphasize the importance of developing positive financial behaviors at an early age.
· Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of national financial inclusion and education initiatives, collecting data on key indicators on economic citizenship for children and youth.
The need to invest in specific policies and programmes targeting vulnerable children and youth is clear and CYFI remains committed to promoting Child and Youth Friendly Banking and quality ECE in all parts of the world. Government authorities, financial institutions, and civil society organizations are key players in the effort to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda and should consider the benefits of integrated financial inclusion and ECE to reach these important SDGs. The UNGA provides that opportunity to translate public commitments into tangible actions.