South-South Cooperation for People and Planet- Youth Empowerment and Launching of Youth Leadership Initiative




The Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo is a United Nations’ annual high-profile forum organized by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in its capacity as the General Assembly-mandated global and United Nations system-wide coordinator and facilitator for South-South and triangular cooperation. It is designed to showcase evidence-based successful development solutions and initiatives. The Nairobi outcome document adopted at the previous High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2009 and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 64/222, refers to the Expo as a source of support for closer links among South-South centres of excellence, institutions, and regional and subregional groupings, among others.

The GSSD Expo 2017 under the theme of South-South Cooperation in the Era of Economic, Social and Environmental Transformation: Road to the 40th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA+40) is to be hosted by the Government of the Republic of Turkey during 27 to 30 November in Antalya.

Achieving the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda and adapting to the changing global context will require engagement from all stakeholders at all levels and in all countries, leveraging their diverse and unique advantages. South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation remain important cornerstones of development activities and will be vital modalities for action as complements to North-South cooperation. Just as the global landscape has been transformed in recent years, so, too, have the avenues for South-South and triangular cooperation.

As outlined in the 1978 Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA), South-South cooperation is an expression of solidarity between countries of the South. Initially focused largely on technical cooperation, capacity-building and knowledge exchange, recent developments in South-South cooperation have included increased volumes of South- South trade, South-South flows of foreign direct investment, movements towards regional integration, technology transfers, sharing of solutions and experts, and other forms of exchange.

In this context, there is a common agreement on the important role and value added of young people’s contribution to development through policy dialogue, programme formulation and implementation at national, regional and global levels. Young women and men are the source of creativity, innovation and positive change, where there are conditions in place to facilitate their effective and equitable participation.

Young people play an important role in stimulating development, and in promoting cooperation and partnerships at various levels, from municipal and national to regional and global. Young people’s openness for change and diversity contributes to their active participation in intercultural exchanges and dialogue. Youth, both in the Global South and in the North, are goodwill agents of change towards a better future for all. With 85 percent of the world’s youth living in the Global South, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of South-South Cooperation in empowering and harnessing the leadership capacities of global youth to contribute to global development efforts.




Objective of the Leadership Round Table on Youth Empowerment

While many bright young individuals and youth organizations in the Global South are already involved in various activities addressing the challenges that are at the core of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a lot still needs to be done to create favourable conditions to empower an even greater number of young women and men to contribute equitably to global development agenda. Among other things, there has not yet been a corresponding uplift in the commitment of financial and other resources as well as effective capacity development mechanisms to harness the creative and innovative energy of young people and to translate it into concrete policy decisions, development strategies and practical programs addressing specific development challenges.

The objective of the Leadership Round Table on Youth Empowerment is to provide a platform for high profile decision-makers representing relevant institutions of the Global South to exchange views and practical solutions towards further empowering of young people in the Global South to play proactive leadership role in addressing development challenges.

The Leadership Round Table on Youth Empowerment will also be an opportunity for the participating representatives of government institutions, UN and other multilateral institutions, civil society organisations, and academia to learn about and to discuss the new initiative on Scaling Up Southern Solutions for Sustainable Development through Advanced Youth Leadership.


About the Advanced Youth Leadership Initiative

The partnership initiative on Scaling up Southern Solutions for Sustainable Development through Advanced Youth Leadership is built on the assumption that young leaders can be empowered and nurtured to become change agents through broadened global horizon, tailor-made on-site learning, and leadership development programmes. Upon completing the capacity development program designed for them in the framework of the Advanced Youth Leadership initiative the graduates are expected to return to their own communities/institutions to act as resource persons for their peers, providing training and mentoring, and preparing necessary changes in order to scale up a specific intervention for sustainable development.



The methodology of this programme consists of intensive training for the selected youth leaders which will consist of interactive sessions, on-site and on-the-job training, and distance learning. It is expected that each youth leader chosen for this programme will commit an extensive amount of time to related activities highlighted below. The capacity building of the youth leaders will span a 12-month period. The flow of the programme is envisaged as described schematically in the graph.


Provisional Agenda

The Leadership Round Table will be organized in the form of a 90-minute session, where an interactive panel discussion will be moderated around the abovementioned points, highlighting the priority areas for South-South Cooperation for People and Planet focusing youth Empowerment in the framework of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

More specifically the Leadership Round Table will aim to explore the following questions:

  • What are the priorities for South-South Cooperation focusing on Youth Empowerment in the context of the implementation of 2030 Agenda?
  • What are means of financing these priority areas? What innovative funding mechanisms should be explored?
  • What are most relevant institutional arrangements, at the global, regional and national levels, that would contribute sufficiently to supporting South-South Cooperation with the focus on Youth Empowerment?


Master of Ceremony: Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director, UN Office for South-South Cooperation



  • Mr. Jorge Chediek, Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation and Director, UNOSSC
  • H.E. Ms. Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates (TBC)
  • Mr. Mohamed Djelid, Deputy Director of the Bureau Strategic Planning, UNESCO
  • Ms. Alanna Armitage, Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, UNFPA
  • H.E. Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Bin Fahad, Chairman of the Higher Committee, Zayed International Foundation for the Environment
  • H.E. Mr. Fathallah Sijilmassi, Secretary General, Union for the Mediterranean (TBC)
  • Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, Deputy Secretary General, the Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Mr. Michael Sheldrick, Global Director, Policy and Advocacy, Global Citizen
  • Mr. Mario Pezzini, Director of the Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary-General on Development
  • H.E. Mr. Elshad Iskandarov, President, Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation
  • Mr. Helge Espe, Senior Adviser, FK Norway


  • Mr. Edem Bakhshish, Chief, Regional Division for Arab States, Europe and the CIS, UNOSSC







Mr. Jorge Chediek

Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation and Director, UNOSSC

Since October 2015, Mr. Jorge Chediek has been the Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, leading United Nations system-wide promotion and coordination of South-South cooperation for development. In March 2016, Mr. Chediek was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as his Envoy on South-South Cooperation.

Prior to this, Mr. Chediek served as the United Nations Resident Coordinator/United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Brazil (2010-2015). In that capacity, he was also the Director of the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth, UNDP’s global forum for policy dialogue and South-South learning on social development innovations. He served as Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Peru (2005-2010); United Nations Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Nicaragua (2001-2005); Deputy Resident Representative in Cuba (1999-2001); Deputy Resident Representative in Uruguay (1996-1999); Programme Management Officer, Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States in New York (1994-1996); and Programme Officer and then Assistant Resident Representative in Turkey (1990-1994).

Preceding his United Nations career, Mr. Chediek worked at the Department of Legislative Analysis of the Argentinean Congress and as an independent consultant assisting in the design of financial investment systems in Argentina.

Born in 1960, he holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service (honors) from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a Bachelor of Science (“Licenciado”) in Political Science from Catholic University in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Mr. Mohamed Djelid

Deputy Director of the Bureau Strategic Planning, UNESCO

Since October 2016, Mr. Mohamed Djelid has been Deputy Director of the Bureau Strategic Planning. He provides intellectual, strategic and operational leadership in planning of UNESCO Programme advancing the cause of poverty eradication, peace building and, sustainable development. He also supports the coordination of the resource mobilisation.

In January 2013, Mr. Mohamed Djelid was appointed Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa in Nairobi (Kenya). In this capacity he was responsible for the implementation of Education, Natural and Earth Sciences, Social and Human Sciences, Culture and Communication Information UNESCO programmes.

In July 2005, he was appointed UNESCO representative in Iraq where he supervised and supported the elaboration the Science and technology policy, the review of the national curriculum and launched the Educational TV “Iraqi Edu” Satellite Channel which provide quality education to Iraqi students.

In April 2004, Mr. Djelid was appointed UNESCO Representative to Burundi, where he was also entrusted with supervising the activities of the Programme of Education for Emergencies and Reconstruction. Providing services to countries in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region in the field of education and the culture of peace.

In February 2001, Mr. Djelid joined UNESCO within the Division of Educational Policies and Strategies of the Education Sector where he implemented educational programme focusing on secondary, vocational and Higher education in Iraq.

Prior to joining UNESCO, Djelid worked in the private sector for CRC SOGEMA as Programme Deputy Director. He implemented the Private Sector Development Fund funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Mr. Djelid holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Sherbrook, Quebec, Canada and a Diplôme d’étude supérieur en Commerce from the Institute National of Commerce in Algiers, Algeria.


Ms. Alanna Armitage

Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, UNFPA

Alanna Armitage, Director of UNFPA’s Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia has worked to promote women’s health, development and human rights for the past 25 years. Alanna joined UNFPA in 1992, and has served in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin America where she was UNFPA Representative in Brazil, and Country Director for Argentina and Paraguay. Before her current assignment, she was Director of UNFPA’s Geneva office for seven years.

Alanna has worked closely with Government policy makers, parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations and leaders from all sectors to champion the health of women and girls, including in humanitarian and emergency settings.

Prior to joining UNFPA, Alanna worked for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the United Nations Development Programme. She started her career in the NGO world with community-based organizations promoting women’s health and rights.

Alanna is Canadian and holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Western Ontario, Post Graduate degrees in International Development and Cooperation from the University of Ottawa and Health Systems Management from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She’s completing a PhD in Anthropology and Sociology of Development at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.


Mr. Mario Pezzini

Director of the Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary-General on Development

Mr. Mario Pezzini is Director of the OECD Development Centre. Moreover, after having served for a year as Acting Director of the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate, he has been now nominated Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary General on Development.

The OECD Development Centre is an institution where governments, enterprises and civil society organisations informally discuss questions of common interest. Its Governing Board includes most of the OECD countries but also developing and emerging economies as full members. The Centre helps policy makers in OECD and partner countries find innovative solutions to the global challenges of development (

Before joining the Development Centre in 2010, Mario Pezzini held several senior management positions in the OECD, where he has been working since 1995.

Prior to joining the OECD, Mr. Pezzini was Professor in Industrial Economics at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris as well as in US and Italian Universities. Also, Mr. Pezzini served as an Advisor in the field of economic development, industrial organisation and regional economics in international organisations and think tanks (e.g. ILO, UNIDO, European Commission and Nomisma in Italy). Mr. Pezzini started his career in the Government office of the Emilia-Romagna Region.


Amb. Elshad Iskandarov

President of Istanbul based Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC)

Amb. Elshad Iskandarov is President of Istanbul based Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC), an affiliated institution to the Organizations of Islamic Cooperation being its the leading youth institution and major partner in youth-related issues. Amb. Iskandarov started his carrier as a youth activist and served as Board Member and then Vice-President of the National Assembly of Youth Organizations of Azerbaijan (NAYORA). His professional carrier started with Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the department of International Organizations and later he was seconded to the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN, New York. In 2004, Amb. Iskandarov was among the founding members of ICYF-DC and elected Secretary General of the institution. During his service as Secretary General he managed to finalize the institutionalization of ICYF-DC and its getting international recognition as the youth platform of the OIC.

Amb. Iskandarov was appointed as Chairman of the State Committee for Religious Organizations of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2012 and served in this position for 2 years. In October 2014, he was elected President of ICYF-DC. In the framework of his professional commitments he attended different types of numerous international gatherings and conferences.

Amb. Iskandarov was graduated from the Columbia University (New York) – MA in International Relations and Public Affairs. He speaks English, Russian and Turkish fluently. Native language is Azerbaijani.


Mr. Helge Espe

Senior Adviser, FK Norway

Helge Espe joined FK Norway in 2001, holding leadership positions and being closely involved in its strategic and operational development since then, especially starting up its south-south and triangular cooperation program already in 2002.

He is currently working as Senior Adviser to the Agency, in particular as regards the Sustainable Development Goals, South-South Cooperation, and other matters relating to the UN organisations, the OECD/DAC/Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, as well as international associations of volunteering. He is also co-chair of the Volunteer Groups Alliance, reporting as stakeholder to the HLPF, and member of an international volunteering Research, Policy, Practice and Learning group.

Espe has previously worked in Ethiopia as Resident Representative for Norwegian Save the Children and also been its Head Office Director of Finance and Administration.
Espe has also worked as a planner and transport analyst in the Oslo City Planning office. He holds an advanced degree in Sociology and in Urban and Regional planning.




For more information on the Leadership Round Table on Youth Empowerment and on the partnership initiative – “Scaling up Southern Solutions for Sustainable Development through Advanced Youth Leadership” please write to