PESHAWAR: In efforts to promote the social and economic development of young people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, UNDP under the Youth Empowerment Programme signed a Letter of Agreement (LoA) with the provincial Youth Affairs Department.

Under the LOA, the Youth Affairs Department will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of two community centres, one each in D.I. Khan and Bannu established under the Youth Empowerment Programme; involve local youth in developing and implementing plans for operationalising the centres; support UNDP in creating a district wise Youth Development Index (YDI), and collaborate with UNDP in launching a Youth Innovation Challenge on SDG 16.

The Agreement is in line with UNDP’s mandate to support the government and people of Pakistan in coming up with innovative solutions to pressing development challenges including the achievement of SDGs. It also complements UNDP’s efforts to foreground young people as engines of economic growth and transformative social change in the country as envisaged in the Government of Pakistan’s Vision 2025 Roadmap, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Youth Policy, UNDP’s Youth Strategy, and the agency’s Youth Global Programme for Sustainable Development Peace.

Speaking on occasion, Ignacio Artaza, Country Director UNDP Pakistan stated, “we are pleased to note that the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is taking immediate steps towards the mainstreaming of young people in the province. Today there are more young people in Pakistan than ever before, this window of opportunity will not last forever; we must invest in young people as harbingers of a peaceful, progressive, and developed Pakistan.”

The partnership will ensure the long-term sustainability of UNDP’s work in some of the most deprived and underdeveloped areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by channelising local efforts to operationalise and maintain multi-functional community centres in D.I. Khan and Bannu. The Youth Innovation Challenge on SDG 16 will foreground young people as messengers of peace and social cohesion in their communities. Furthermore, the creation of a district level Youth Development Index (YDI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will galvanise policymakers to design and implement targeted interventions at the district level.

Appreciating UNDP’s support to the provincial Youth Department in implementing the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Youth Policy at the grassroots level, Mr Muhammad Tariq, Secretary Youth and Sports Affairs stated, “We are pleased to be working with UNDP for the development of young people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. We are successfully collaborating in promoting eco-friendly tourism in the province. This initiative will further strengthen our resolve to progress towards a prosperous and progressive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in ways that promote young people’s participation in public life.”