Report by: Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND).
The need to address gender inequality and social exclusion in all socio-economic development agenda has gained strong attention globally. Governments have made [legally] binding commitments to ensuring gender responsiveness in all decision making processes. Building on these commitments, the 2030 Agenda, including its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), recognize the interlinkages between gender equality and the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and call for integrated solutions with the aim to “Leaving No One Behind”.
In recent times, the issue of natural resources and environment management has increased owing to their inter-relatedness and cross-cutting nature as well as their inevitable impact on development agenda. They include Climate Change; Biological Diversity (Biodiversity); Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); Forestry; Fisheries; Oil and Gas; Food Security; Land Degradation/Desertification; Renewable Energy; International Waters; Mining and Wildlife. Hitherto, in a quest to demonstrate good governance in the management of the natural resources and environment sector in particular, the Government of Ghana launched the Natural Resource and Environmental Governance (NREG) program from 2008 – 2012 with support from the Agence Francois de Development (AFD), Department for International Development (DfID) of the United Kingdom, the European Commission (EC), the Royal Netherland Government (RNG) and the International Development Association (IDA – WB) to address governance issues related to the mining and forestry sectors and to improve environmental management with the overall objective of ensuring economic growth, poverty alleviation, increasing revenues and improving environmental protection.
Increasingly, development partners are acknowledging the need for extensive consultation involving local communities, indigenous peoples, civil society organizations, private sector, women, men, girls, boys and vulnerable groups including persons with disabilities in addressing environmental challenges. Yet in the planning, implementation and evaluation of interventions, the inclusion of young people as relevant actors has been poorly executed. Even where issues of social inclusion are specifically discussed, little attention is paid towards empowering young people consciously to participate. Though some efforts have been made, there is still a lot more that needs to be done in enhancing the access of young people to public participation and decision making.