Youth eDebates on Youth Engagement: Report Feb-2012
Youth 21: Building an Better Architecture to Engage Youth in the UN System- A short introduction

The youth from 15-24 years of age are unique in that they are one of the largest demographic groups that has no formal mechanisms of representation within the U.N. system, as do other demographic groups via programmes such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and U.N. Women. Nevertheless, young people globally are not only demanding to be heard but also taking positive action to advance their communities and societies. There is an urgent need, therefore, to put mechanisms in place that give the youth a broader and more meaningful stake in shaping the policy and work of international agencies such as the U.N.

The percentage of youth in the world’s population has reached an all time high. Youth are demanding a seat at the table where their future is being decided. Recent developments in the MENA region clearly demonstrate one possible outcome of denying youth the opportunity of participation in decision-making and policy development. These factors give a clear signal to the U.N. that there is an opportunity to engage the youth globally in a positive way, thereby making the U.N. relevant in their eyes. Read More

In 1995, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) to guide national and international action, so as to create an environment in which young people can flourish and develop their potential to the fullest. Since then, opportunities for young people to benefit from development have expanded within the U.N. system and on a global scale as well. Nonetheless, WPAY and other policies and frameworks, still do not have accompanying mechanisms that allow youth full and meaningful participation in decision-making; too often, they are viewed-upon as clients rather than partners and stakeholders.

The adoption of the World Programme of Action for Youth in 2000 marked a milestone in youth development in the U.N. Yet, youth are still looked upon as clients rather than equal stakeholders. Recent developments in the MENA region clearly demonstrate how youth without access to decision-making processes or other key policy can hinder development processes. The U.N. is in a situation where it can choose to be a beacon for the next generation, but to do this successfully would require a change in the prevalent attitude towards the youth.

What changes are needed to make the UN more relevant to the needs of the future generation? How can young people be facilitated to engage with the processes of the U.N. that closely impact their communities and their future? Is it at all possible to create mechanisms within the U.N. system to accommodate and legitimize the opinions of youth through representative youth voices? Is it, in sum, possible to prioritize the considered opinions of youth so that policies of nations may become not just youth oriented but also youth-led?

UN-HABITAT has historically engaged young people at all levels, from mainstreaming in its operations through its Youth Advisory Board to supporting urban youth through capacity building, training and the Urban Youth Fund. With the adoption of the resolution HSP/GC/23/7, UN-HABITAT was tasked by its Governing Council in April 2011 to explore, in co-operation with sister agencies and member states, the enhancement of youth engagement in the U.N. system. This report is the first step in engaging national governments, international partners and youth themselves in this process. The goal of this initiative is to empower the youth to positively affect and promote sustainable change in their communities globally, by developing mechanisms through which youth can directly engage in global governance and policy-making in the U.N. system.

Three different scenarios are presented, each demonstrating ways in which the U.N. can be more responsive to the youth. Scenario 1 outlines the possibility to upscale and enhance UNDESA’s Youth Unit. This scenario would enhance youth engagement, however, the youth would still be in a client role. Scenario 2 gives youth visibility and potential access to the Secretary-General and top level decision-making in UN, however much like the first scenario, it would mean that the youth would remain in the role of a client rather than a stakeholder. Further, a potential challenge with this scenario is that the Special Representative would not have any clear mechanism for youth to access policy discussions and decision-making processes. Scenario 3 outlines a menu of mechanisms to secure true and meaningfully youth engagement in the UN system. The combined and interdependent proposal of a Special Representative, a Permanent Youth Forum and Youth Platforms will give youth globally a seat at the table. A key strength with this scenario is its interdependence, yet reinforcing mechanism. All the proposed mechanisms don’t have to be established simultaneously, but one can foresee an incremental process. The appointment of a Special Representative can be the first step, and subsequently this person can work towards the establishment of a Permanent Forum. It is the opinion of the authors of this report that Scenario 3 is the most comprehensive model that truly gives youth access to decision-making processes and policy discussions at the UN level.

But is this indeed the best scenario for adoption? For that matter, are there other options, different from those outlined in this document that could be considered? Is there an option that might be quicker to achieve and easier to implement? This document is open to debate before a request is made, as in the document to the Secretary-General to commission a report that outlines a process towards implementing Scenario 3.

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Joao Scarpelini, eDebates Moderator
JOAO is an activist and social entrepreneur. He has been working with youth empowerment and social change in different organizations and causes since 1999.

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Should this initiative of having a Special Representative on Youth be followed up with the suggestions made in scenario 3: A UN Permanent Forum on Youth?
What role should it play in the UN? Globally? When would this happen? And how would this relate to t
From 11 Feb 2012 To 16 Feb 2012 | Total Comment (22)
What should be the mandate of the Special Representative? Are there some special areas he/she should be focusing on more closely, such as environment, peace, etc. ?
From 06 Feb 2012 To 10 Feb 2012 | Total Comment (19)
What should be the process of selecting the Secretary-General Special Representative on Youth as proposed by Mr. Ban Ki-Moon?
Link to Mr. Bank Ki-Moon's announcement: http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2012/01/press-confer...
From 31 Jan 2012 To 05 Feb 2012 | Total Comment (31)
General Discussion  
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General Discussion

The Youth 21 Initiative

This forum is for the general discussion of any and all topics on the subject of "Youth Engagement in the United Nations system". This is a space to summarise, revisit, expand upon, debate and discuss each and every aspect of the the Youth 21 Initiative.  

keba2: together, we enhance sustainability
on 29 Jan 2013  
rugasteven: Pendant longtemps la politique de la rébellion de certains pays africains ont impliqué la jeunesse dans son armée, à cette période l’éducation de la jeunesse a été dégradée du point de vue remarquable, les gros problèmes de notamment dela RDC réside dans la médiocrité de ses systèmes éducatifs et provient du manque de personnel qualifié, ainsi que les matériels suffisant dans ce domaine. Plus grave encore d’autres problèmes provient du manque de la nouvelle technologique dans le milieu avec urbain et rural citons également à U vira et Fizi selon la source d’information reccueilli aux différentes personnes,2005 il n ya aucun centre d’informatique, aucun cyber qui pourras aider les jeunes d’avoir une connaissance technologique du monde moderne. Dans ce cadre notre équipe a songé de renforcer la capacité éducative à la jeunesse les futurs dirigeants et l’espoir du pays, comment ces jeunes peuvent avoir une notion de base en informatique. pour la Propvf/asbl Steven RUGABO
on 18 Apr 2012  
Simran: Thanks for including my comments in the E-Debates Report. WE NEED A PEACEFUL WORLD- Peace is something that many people wish for, yet there are many places in the world where there is no peace. World peace begins with kindness and there are ways to get there. I know the way forward and it is by far the shortest and the simplest way- by raising awareness and educating our youth with technical expertise to eradicate poverty and making them independent, especially focusing the rural and impoverished youth and at the same time stressing on the need and acts of sustainable development. I hope more and more people understand this and help build this awareness. I am Simran Vedvyas student a at “The Millennium School” Dubai, United Arab Emirates,8th TUNZA Eco Generation Regional Ambassador Middle East, Earth Charter International Youth Task Force Group Country Activator- UAE. I wish to be an example of a true environmentalist and an individual who walks an extra mile to help and ser
on 24 Mar 2012  
Mildred: Amongst the youth the most challenging issue noted is joblessness which breed hopelessness and frustration. Resentment and hate for society is a manifestation for this frustration. Social structure like the family that were instrumental in molding young people have been shattered as parents and the youth struggle to make ends meet. The youth are now easily influenced by negative role models within the society who have taken advantage of the void. I am happy that the secretary general he is now seeing the future in the young people." build the youth build the nation"
on 13 Mar 2012  
Mildred: The youth have particularly been a vulnerable group for a long time. They at the same time hold the potential for future because young people are not mired in prejudice and are better at moving ahead in terms of confronting vice such as corruption which the elderly on the other hand may consider inevitable. Further young people have ideas and vision and it is from their names that the leaders and politicians of tomorrow will step forward. However poverty and inequality have remained a major hindrance for the youth to unleash their potential.My sincere appreciation to Bankmoon for considering youth and giving them a chance to reflect, get involved and act. MILDRED
on 13 Mar 2012  
kavoco: Cheers to Moon. He is now seeing the core solution to future world peace absence.
on 11 Mar 2012  
romuloguto: We cannot also forget the strategic association with youth organizations to deliver programmes and services for young people around the world using the funds, partnerships and member states without forgetting the important work of helping youth organizations and building capacity for sustainability. A new design for the UN System related to the youth issue can help in this process by creating more synergy to the whole system. The announcement of the special advisor to the SG will be key to make voices of young people heard, of course, if the indicated is also a young person with whom, young people from around the world can identify themselves with.
on 01 Mar 2012  
romuloguto: I think there is no better or correct way for UN to address the issue. But a holist perspective to the youth agenda could be very effective. UN could invest more in strengthening the UN Delegates programme and strengthen the youth section of the different UN agencies. This is partially addressed the by the Inter-Agency Youth Network, but still the need of more attention from all the parts to it. An educational approach with member states to include more young people in its structures will increase the capacity of young people to provide leadership in intergenerational context, which we believe is very important since youth, adults and others are complementary to each other and affected similar issues.
on 01 Mar 2012  
James: Establishment of UN Youth is the most effective way for us to get in ,UN Youth will support establishment of National youth Councils and ministries of youth in members states were they don't exist.It will strengthen the existing National Youth institutions were they exist.It will sustain the work done by existing UN agencies especially UNICEF's work ( managering the transition from childhood to youth stage and from youth stage to adulthood).It will promote social inclusion of many vulnerable youth populations.It will support the establishment of regional UN Youth centers similar to European Youth centers for building capacity of all youth .Let us get in by having the UN Youth in Place.
on 01 Mar 2012  
Paul Gathara: The UN needs to give greater support to existing networks already predisposed to supporting and engaging with the UN. Specifically, networks such as Model United Nations (MUN) and the United Nations Youth Associations (UNYA) exist in hundreds of countries globally with the main objective of supporting the UN and its objectives. These networks, however, remain largely uncoordinated in terms of interrelation with each other; and their engagement with the UN is not nearly as substantive as it could be. Given the reach of these networks (thousands of members globally), strategic long-term support by the UN would help build on their potential as direct youth engagement and partnership platforms; and potentially expand their membership to tens of thousands. Such support may focus on: strengthening leadership structures, training on partnerships for growth & development; establishment of sustainable transition mechanisms; trainings on project design, implementation and evaluation e.t.c.
on 26 Feb 2012  
Paul Gathara: It is important to establish a central point for youth engagement with the UN System. The UN Programme on Youth is not decentralized and therefore cannot effectively address the needs of the world’s youth beyond UNHQ. The best office to assume this role is the Department for Public Information (DPI) through its network of UN Information Centres (UNIC/UNIS). The role of the Information Centres must be broadened to include facilitating accessibility of the UN to youth as one of its main objectives and core deliverables. The Information Centres should act as a gateway for youth to the UN, receiving queries, proposals and information from youth and directing it to the relevant offices for further action. Given that it is their business to know who is doing what within the UN System, the Information Centres are well placed perform this role. Recruitment of youth officers in the different UNICS would greatly enhance the UN’s ability to engage youth and vice versa.
on 26 Feb 2012  
chege: The youths have always been left in the development of their country and termed as minors in decision making process. a case study of kenya,how can we influence the main decision makers to incorporate the youths in national decisions? The affirmative action of some governments to save slots for youths remain questionable by the factr that the youths have no financial power!what specific support should they be given?that remains the solution to the youth involvement and raise the status of the youths especially their financial part. thanks your comments and support to this can be much helpful. chege amos
on 22 Feb 2012  
Lukanza: As Youth we have a lot of potentials but we lack how to utilize them.We need a lot of support to know our potentials and use them effectively
on 21 Feb 2012  
Mohaissack: As youth, we are apple,and we can if we are given the opportunity. As earlier said 'the old broom knows every corner of the room but the new broom sweeps well or better' then youth the new generation have fresh mind can do better in every phenomenon of life. We can make sound decisions, come up with productive and better projects that will change the lives of millions who are in need. Fore example, myself I am young man who uses good of other youth to help the community where we are running a community based organization working for the betterment of persons with HIV/Aids, disabilities. with focus on women and children. So if we are doing this voluntarily then I believe all youth can do better than that. Thank you for your time and and remembering us, it is our turn. By, Mohamed Issack Abdullahi, Kenya/Somalia border
on 17 Feb 2012  
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