Opening Speech at  FK Youth Camp 2015

Sørmarka, 19 August 2015

State Secretary Morten Høglund held this speech when he opened the FK Youth Camp 2015 outside Oslo 19 August.

Thank you to FK Norway for inviting me to this youth camp. It is a great pleasure to be here. This camp is very timely, last week we celebrated the UN International Youth Day, and the 2015 theme is "Youth Civic Engagement" focusing on the youth, their issues and contributions towards their communities.

I am very pleased to see so many dedicated young people in the audience. The 178 participants present are from 21 countries, they represent 44 organizations and 17 partnerships.

You have been chosen to be part of the FK exchange program. FK Norway is an integral part of Norwegian development cooperation and a strategic tool for the Government's focus on young people in international development. It represents a unique model that uses youth exchange to promote social change.

A recent evaluation of FKs exchange programs concluded that participating in exchange programs strengthen young people's cultural understanding and leadership skills. It also increase civic engagement and enhances young people's skills and ability to participate in the workforce or voluntary sector after their exchange.

An important part of the civil society is the voluntary organizations. The government of Norway has recently presented a Declaration on voluntary work. The Declaration is a policy statement recognizing the importance of the voluntary sector as an arena for social participation and democracy-building. Voluntary work is a significant, independent aspect of our society that benefits both volunteers and society in general.

Volunteer work gives youth knowledge, experience, social identity and new skills. Voluntary work also builds a sense of community, improves the daily lives of many people and promotes social development. This Declaration on voluntary work is an expression of the government's appreciation of the voluntary sector, and a framework for productive and constructive interaction in the years ahead.

It is more important than ever to maintain a strong focus on human rights, strong and universal educational systems, stimulate entrepreneurship and cooperation with the private sector for increased job creation.

Worldwide, young people make up a quarter of the world's population. You are a driving force behind change. Despite this, young people remain a vulnerable and marginalized demographic groups. The Norwegian government is working hard to help young people tackle the challenges they face – both in Norway and abroad.

Tomorrow I will travel to Amman, to attend the Global Forum on youth, peace and security. At this conference, the role of youth when it comes to peacebuilding and counterterrorism will be the main topic.

Young people need jobs. We are therefore investing in enhanced development cooperation with the private sector to make it possible for young people to find work.

We want a strong focus on youth, their democratic participation and rights – freedom of speech, the right to education, and the right to decide over their own bodies.

Along with other Nordic countries, the Norwegian government is addressing these issues in the UN and in the post-2015 process.

As State Secretary I would like to use the opportunity to thank you all on behalf of the Norwegian government for being a crucial human factor in Norwegian development cooperation and wish you good luck in your exchange to a foreign country.