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Youth organizations strengthen engagement in developing the post-2015 agenda

 

arton4329More than 45 representatives of approximately fifteen youth organizations worldwide and of UN agencies held the second [1] Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on Incremental Steps in Youth Engagement in Developing the Post-2015 Agenda, in New York on 21 June. The group strategized on a wide range of issues regarding youth, including empowerment, particularly among children with disabilities, gender equality, and partnership.

The event was organized by the Major Group for Children and Youth, United Nations Millennium Campaign (as a member of the UN Inter-Agency Network for Youth Development), and Beyond2015, with the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service, the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN, GCAP and CIVICUS. Co-moderators included Lloyd Russell-Moyle from European Youth Forum, the Major Group for Children and Youth, and Beyond 2015; Victoria Forsgate from Restless Development; and Ravi Karkara, Focal Point on Post-2015 of the UN-Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development.

During the introductory session, Amina J. Mohammed, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Post-2015, highlighted the importance of outreach in intergovernmental processes. Usman Mushtaq of the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA) and Youth Delegate of Norway noted that young people have the platforms for strengthened advocacy, and need to make sure their use is maximized. Ahmad Alhindawi, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, urged the group to depart from a consultation phase and move towards building consensus. In this respect, Mr. Karkara asked the group, “Who are we building consensus with?” and emphasized inclusivity in youth coordination and advocacy processes. Corinne Woods, director of the UN Millennium Campaign, recommended that youth organizations identify their allies among Member States as they continue to advocate their positions for the post-2015 agenda.

Lysa John, Head of Outreach for the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Post-2015, pointed out the need to engage first-timers in the development dialogue and referred to the “moral imperative” decision-makers feel when addressed by youth constituencies. Now that the Panel’s report has been published, now is a key moment for much broader social mobilization around post-2015, Ms. John emphasized. Additionally, Katherine Ellis, Head of Youth Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, provided an overview of youth empowerment activities promoted by this intergovernmental organization, particularly its Youth Development Index. Ms. Ellis suggested that youth-related indicators be affixed to each post-2015 goal and recommended the formulation of a global framework for youth policy. Lloyd Russell Moyle emphasized the need to keep the momentum for post-2015 through mobilization, advocacy, and participation in ongoing political processes including the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

While focusing on their asks and strategy during the process of defining the post-2015 development agenda, the youth organizations present also planned for the World Youth Conference, which will take place in Sri Lanka next year. Palitha T.B. Kohona, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, updated the group on the achievements in terms of youth empowerment in his country, including a youth consultation policy and free education and health systems. He emphasized the importance of including youth in both determining and implementing policies, as “this vital demographic” makes up almost 90% of the developing world. Waruna Sri Dhanapala, Minister Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka, shared additional information on the World Youth Conference, which will address the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda as its main focus.

Four working groups formulated recommendations on the following topics: Youth in the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and involvement in the Special Event on MDGs and Post-2015 (moderated by Aashish Khullar, Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, European Youth Forum); World Conference on Youth (moderated by Ravi Karkara and Lloyd Russell-Moyle); Children Engagement in post-2015 (moderated by Sofia Garcia, SOS Children’s Villages and Felipe Cala, ChildFund Alliance); and Youth and online engagement – MY World and the World We Want (moderated by Fatou Diallo, UN Millennium Campaign; Ivana Savic, Major Group on Children and Youth; and Kathryn Tobin, UN-NGLS). A summary of the recommendations follows.

Youth in the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and involvement in the Special Event on MDGs and Post-2015
Support marginalized youth participation and resources; 
Map out organizations that are working on specific issues; 
Deliver a message taking into account indicators; and 
Convene with Member States to put forward talking points.

World Conference on Youth:
Focus on highlighting the World Program of Action for Youth
Involve regional bodies that are already working on youth policy in the discussions; 
Call for greater accountability on youth engagement; and 
Focus on the most marginalized youth.

Inclusive Children Engagement in Post-2015:
Clarify whether the discussion focuses on children, youth or both; 
We need to hear more voices of children, particularly marginalized children; 
Diversify communications techniques: include more child-friendly forms of communication, such as documentaries or the internet, and child-friendly processes, such as children consultations.

Inclusive Online Engagement of Children and Youth
Use these platforms for youth self-organizing by constituency (children, youth) and thematic area; 
Build coalitions and partnerships through these politically recognized spaces; 
Keep governments accountable and emphasize transparency; 
Ivana Savic (Major Group for Children and Youth - MCGY, and World We Want policy group member) shared information on the children and youth consultations that the MGCY will launch in July, and invited all to participate. More information will be posted at www.worldwewant2015.org/ChildrenandYouth.

The event was livestreamed via Google+ Hangouts; the archive is available here. (Event starts approximately 30 minutes into the video.)

A follow-up meeting, the third Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on Incremental Steps in Youth Engagement in Developing the Post-2015 Agenda, will be organized in September.

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to develop constructive relations between the UN and civil society organizations.

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