As the summer heat wave continues to hit New York, learn more about what UN DESA is doing to keep youth issues sizzling
Over the past few months Youth Flash has been providing regular updates on activities related to Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon’s, announcement that “Working with and for women and young people” would be a top priority for his second term. In this month’s edition of Youth Flash, we’d like to provide some more detailed information on what exactly this means and on what the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), has been doing to help make this priority a reality and to promote youth partnerships more broadly!
A bit of history…
2011 was an important year for youth. Not only was UN DESA busy overseeing activities related to the International Year of Youth, but worldwide youth issues were gaining more and more prominence, notably as a result of escalating youth unemployment levels and demonstrations from young people in many regions of the world. The message was loud and clear- young people need to be better involved at all levels of decision making and development.
‘Youth’ was high on the agenda and the United Nations was taking note with the Secretary-General stating: ‘increasingly, young people are saying to their elders and to their governments: “This is not the world we want.” With this, the Secretary-General asked: ‘Are we doing enough [for young people]? Can we do more?... I think we can do, and we must do more, for our young people.’
With this momentum, and hot on the heels of the end of the International Year of Youth, the Secretary-General committed to ‘Address the needs of the largest generation of young people the world has ever known’ by making “Working with and for women and young people” a priority in his Five-year Action Agenda.
To help advance his agenda he declared three specific initiatives:
(1) the appointment of a Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Youth;
(2) the development of an action plan to deepen the youth focus of existing UN programmes on: employment, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, citizenship and protection of rights, and education, including on sexual and reproductive health;
(3) the creation of a UN youth volunteers programme under the umbrella of UN Volunteers (UNV).
This news brought with it an important mandate for UN DESA. In its capacity of permanent co-chair of the Inter Agency Network on Youth Development, UN DESA was requested to play a key role in the development and implementation process of the above initiatives. This includes the drafting of the UN System-Wide Action Plan on Youth by the Spring of 2013, as well as assistance in the nomination and selection process of the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Youth.
The process so far…
Together with forwarding its on-going work on youth issues, UN DESA has been busy working with its partners both within and outside the UN to ensure the timely and effective delivery of the Secretary-General’s requests.
System Wide Action Plan on Youth (SWAP)
In order to develop the UN System-Wide Action Plan (SWAP), UN DESA is overseeing the work of the Inter Agency Network on Youth Development, and its three newly established thematic sub-working groups which are clustered around the priority areas identified by the Secretary-General: (1) employment and entrepreneurship; (2) health and education, including education on sexual and reproductive health; and (3) participation, including political inclusion, active citizenship and protection of rights. The aim of the thematic sub-working groups is to lead the development of the SWAP in their respective areas and to coordinate input from stakeholders, such as youth.
Indeed, and as specified by the Secretary-General, youth input to the development of the SWAP is of utmost importance. To ensure young people’s input is reflected in the SWAPs elaboration, we have launched an online consultation with youth-led organizations and other stakeholders. The input received will feed directly into the work of the sub-working groups on the Plan.
You can participate in the survey by clicking on the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BFKH85W
We welcome your valuable responses as well as your assistance in helping us to disseminate the questionnaire as widely as possible among youth networks world-wide. The consultation should take no longer than a few minutes to answer.
Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Youth
In March an open call for nominations for the role of Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Youth was circulated amongst UN entities and youth-led organizations. Numerous nominations have been received for both the role of the Special Advisor and her/his Advisory Group. The terms of reference for the role of Special Advisor indicate an exciting time ahead for youth issues within the UN system. However, for the role to be appointed funding contributions from Member States to support the office of the Special Advisor and his/her team for the medium term must first be secured. We hope to have more information on this process in the coming months.
UN Youth Volunteer Programme
The third proposal announced by the Secretary-General is that of a UN Youth Volunteer Programme, an important initiative that will no doubt highlight the importance and value of youth volunteerism. Taking the lead on this initiative is the United Nations Volunteer Programme (UNV). In addition to expanding its staff resources, UNV is preparing a consultation as well as an expert group meeting with various stakeholders on the design and further planning of the Programme. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on developments on this front in our ‘News from UN offices’ section of Youth Flash.
But wait, there’s more… International Youth Day 2012
It is clear that central to the Secretary-General’s initiative, as well as core to UN DESA’s work on youth issues, is the practice of partnering with young people in the development of the work of the UN and of ensuring that youth and youth-led organizations are active at all levels of decision making.
It is with this in mind that UN DESA has decided to build upon the momentum of both the International Year of Youth and the Secretary-General’s Five-year Action Agenda by declaring the theme of this year’s International Youth Day (IYD) as “Building a better world: partnering with youth”, 12 August 2012.
IYD 2012 will highlight the many ways in which the United Nations, Member States, the private sector and other stakeholders can partner with and for young people, particularly in the thematic areas highlighted in the Secretary-Generals Five-Year Action Agenda: employment, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, citizenship and protection of rights and education, including on sexual and reproductive health.
In the lead-up to IYD 2012, UN DESA will undertake a global online initiative, calling on young people around the world to commemorate IYD by organizing events in partnership with other stakeholders. We are also asking young people to share with us their recommendations on how the United Nations should partner with and for young people.
During the first week of August, UN DESA will conduct six Google+ Hangouts with various experts on the Secretary-General’s thematic areas, detailed above. We invite young people around the world to join the discussion and submit their questions using Twitter and Facebook.
Additionally, on 10 August, UN DESA will celebrate International Youth Day by showcasing the various ways in which the United Nations, Member States, civil society, the private sector and academia can effectively partner and work with young people.
Whether it’s through an IYD activity or contributing to the SWAP consultation, we hope that as things cool off in many people’s lives for the summer period, you continue to keep things sizzling on youth issues.
For more information on how to get involved in IYD 2012 and the SWAP consultation process, please read below.
For more information about International Youth Day, please visit: http://social.un.org/index/Youth/InternationalYouthDay/IYD2012.aspx
To learn more about the commemorative events taking place around the world, please view the International Youth Day event world map at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/iyd2012.html
To add your own event to the world map, send the details to: email@example.com
Don’t forget to join our IYD online initiative by following us on Twitter at @UN4Youth and on Facebook at facebook.com/UNyouthyear
To contribute to the SWAP online consultation please visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BFKH85W