SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov

Every year on August 12, International Youth Day is celebrated in all countries of the world. The holiday was established by the decision of the UN General Assembly on December 17, 1999 at the suggestion of the World Conference of Ministers for Youth Affairs, held in Lisbon on August 8-12, 1998.

The UN Youth Strategy2030, launched in 2018, outlines five priority areas designed to improve the lives of young people: to involve them in solving modern problems; expand access to education and health care; seek to improve their economic situation; to provide conditions for the realization of their civil and political rights; support young people in situations of conflict and crisis.

Today there are 1.8 billion young people in the world – the largest number in the history of mankind.Almost half of the world’s youth live in the SCO area (over 800 million people).Young people, with their energy, innovative and bold ideas are an important pillar on the path of further development of the SCO in various aspects of its activities.That is why the focus of the Organization is on the young generation of our countries.

This year our organization celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Over the 20 years of its existence, the SCO has been able to build one of the world’s largest systems of successfully combining national and regional interests in various areas of development, as well as multifaceted regional cooperation with an emphasis on guaranteeing political stability, strengthening security, expanding economic interaction, joint development and prosperity of peoples, development of intercivilizational dialogue in the region.All these years, the SCO member states have attached great importance to the development of youth cooperation aimed at promoting the physical, mental and spiritual development of the young generation, involving it in a large-scale joint development plans.

The responsible body for the implementation of the policy in this area is the SCO Youth Council, created in 2009 at the initiative of the Youth Organizations of the SCO member states.The SCO Youth Council is an effective mechanism for protecting young people from various destructive ideas by creating conditions to receive modern education and acquire professional skills, to engage in entrepreneurial activities and innovative projects in order to expand their employment, self-realization, increase their spiritual potential and well-being.

The involvement of young people in cross-border cultural, economic, scientific and educational processes contributes to the disclosure of the creative, social, educational and spiritual and moral potential of the young generation, strengthening friendship and mutual understanding between young people of the SCO member states, which can serve to further develop good-neighborly relations, strengthen interethnic and interfaith cooperation.

For this purpose, discussions, conferences, cultural and sports events, as well as youth forums are held annually within the framework of the SCO Youth Council.In addition, the project of the International Service “Youth Card of the SCO” is being successfully implemented, the international festivals “Student Spring of the SCO and BRICS countries” and the SCO Marathons are held annually.

Within the framework of theproject “SCO is our Common Home”, the SCO Secretariat is working with young people by providing them with technical support, as well as a platform for organizing various events. These events range from “Model SCO” meetings to intellectual competitions “Leader of the XXI century.”

Currently, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the habitual way of life of many millions of people, causing serious damage to the socio-economic life of states.At the same time, young people are among the category of the population that suffers from the coronavirus pandemic the most.

Today, the SCO member states, in accordance with the principles of the “Shanghai Spirit”, in order to overcome the negative consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, continue to show a high level of solidarity, mutual support and mutual assistance.At the same time, despite all the difficulties, modern youth of the SCO region actively participate in the public life of the SCO member states.

The younger generation is helping to overcome the negative consequences of the coronavirus pandemic through their voluntary assistance to doctors, the sick, the poor and the needy.In the context of the transition of most of the education system to the online mode, the activities of various destructive forces have intensified to involve young people in their criminal activities.

International terrorism and extremism, turbulence in the global economy and exacerbation of social problems – these and other factors increase the challenges faced by young people.Taking these trendsinto account, the SCO member states are also taking appropriate measures aimed at countering the involvement of young people in the activities of terrorist, separatist and extremist structures.

Last year’s Moscow SCO Summit declaration emphasized the need to continue the participation of the SCO Youth Council in the implementation of the provisions of the “Joint Appeal of the Heads of the SCO Member States to Youth” and the “Action Program for its implementation, adopted on June 10, 2018 at the SCO Summit in Qingdao”, which are focused on the active involvement of young people in the creation of a worthy future, assistance to the physical, mental and spiritual development of the younger generation.The documents emphasize the extreme importance of ensuring favorable socio-economic conditions, the availability of opportunities for education, self-expression, the disclosure of creative potential and the implementation of labor activities for young segments of the population.

The leaders of the SCO member states are convinced that young people united by the “Shanghai spirit” embodying mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity, striving for joint development, are able to give a tough rebuff to destructive forces, become a powerful obstacle to the spread of alien ideas of terrorism, extremism and legal nihilism.At the same time, the SCO countries attach great importance to channeling the energy of the younger generation into a creative channel. First, through affordable, high-quality, innovative education, which makes it possible to fully realize the potential of an individual.

During the first organizational meeting of the SCO University Coordination Council held on June 30, 2020, the member states discussed the issues of transferring educational programs to distance learning in the context of a pandemic.The SCO Secretariat considers it important to work on generalizing the experience of our countries in the development of distance education and developing an appropriate program of multilateral cooperation.At the same time, the SCO University should become a reliable platform for the development of online learning in the space of our Organization.

In the field of youth education, with the assistance of the SCO Secretariat, such projects as the educational game “Model SCO” and the “SCOLAR Academy” are making their positive contribution.The interactive game “Model SCO” demonstrated the growing interest of young people in the activities of the Organization aimed at strengthening mutual trust, friendship and good-neighborliness between the peoples of our countries.In this regard, we consider it important to disseminate the experience of conducting an interactive game “Model SCO” and the volunteer youth movement “SCOLAR Network” in all countries of the SCO family with the active support from the national Youth Councils of the SCO.

At the same time, in the current environment, the development and support of youth entrepreneurship has become a priority area for the governments of our countries.The International Youth Business Incubator of the SCO Countries project, implemented within the framework of the SCO Youth Council, aims to facilitate the training of mentors for start-up startups, the opening of the business incubator space for young people, as well as internships in the country participating in the project.

The coronavirus pandemic has given impetus to the development of the digital economy and forced many young people to rethink their vision of the future development of the economy and their professional activities.Given the importance of innovation and the digital economy as key factors of economic growth, the SCO attaches great importance to attracting young people to the development of e-commerce, promoting start-up initiatives in the field of the digital economy.

In order to more actively engage in this area, the SCO Secretariat, together with the SCOLAR Network youth platform and in partnership with the Innoway Technology Park and Alibaba Group, held a conference on the topic: “Digital Economy and E-Commerce: Challenges and Opportunities in the SCO Region” and a webinar on Digital Action for Entrepreneurs in the COVID-19 Era: Lessons from Alibaba.More than 600 young professionals took part in the events.The 2ndYouth Competition for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Conclave of SCO Young Scientists, the Startup Forumthe Youth Conference “AGORA: SCOLAR Vision”Youth Conference were also successfully held.

In modern conditions, in the implementation of youth policy by the SCO member states, the importance of public diplomacy is increasing. It is an element of cross-border relations that contributes to the dialogue of peoples and cultures.One of the most effective areas of such contacts is the interaction of the youth and student communities of our countries.Therefore, the readiness of representatives of student associations and youth activists for such work is extremely important.

In this regard, an important role is played by the institutions of public diplomacy of the SCO member states and, in particular, The Chinese Committee for Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation, Center for Public Diplomacy of the SCO in Tashkent and the Center for Friendship and Cooperation of the SCO in Tajikistan, which strive to form knowledge and skills among young people. All of them contribute to public diplomacy.

At present, at the initiative of the SCO chairmanship of Tajikistan, the member states are discussing a draft Agreement on cooperation between young people and authorized bodies of the SCO member states, which is planned to be adopted at the anniversary SCO summit in Dushanbe in September this year.

This document is aimed at strengthening cooperation in the field of work with youth and public organizations (associations) implementing the state youth policy, as well as supporting initiatives aimed at enhancing international youth cooperation.At the same time, special attention is paid to the promotion of joint economic and humanitarian initiatives aimed at involving young people in entrepreneurship and innovative projects in order to increase their employment and well-being, as well as support the activities of the SCO Youth Council.

It is important to note that the current Tajikistan’s chairmanship in the Organization coincides with the 20th anniversary of the SCO, which is being held under the motto “20 years of the SCO: cooperation for stability and prosperity.”Within the framework of the current chairmanship of the Republic of Tajikistan in the SCO, large-scale work is being carried out to further strengthen multifaceted mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of security and economy. Much attention is paid to the issues of deepening humanitarian ties, intercultural exchanges, interaction between youth.

The future development of the entire SCO area depends on the participation of young people in political, socio-economic and public life, both at the national and international levels.It is not enough to understand young people in the traditional sense, only as a future society.It must be assessed as an organic part of modern society, bearing a specialfunction of responsibility for the preservation and development of our countries.Young people are the main bearers of the intellectual potential of society. They have great ability to work, to be creative in all spheres of life. They are able to master new knowledge, professions and specialties faster than other social groups of society.

There is now a real increase in youth activity in many areas.That is why the member states consider it necessary to build a society in the SCO space where all young people will have the opportunity to reveal their potential, and in which their ability will be recognized as well as their contribution to the development and building of the future of their countries.

We want to witness the formation of new leaders of the 21st century in the SCO space, since in the face of today’s young people we see an important driving force of the “Shanghai spirit”.