More than 500 young people from around the world converged on the United Nations Headquarters to attend the High-Level Meeting on Youth, which opened on Monday, 25 July 2011.
A moment of silence was observed at the opening in remembrance of the victims of the terror attacks in Norway. Expressing condolences to the people of Norway, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, “This atrocity stands in stark opposition to the theme of this meeting, which is dialogue and mutual understanding.”
Member States called for the creation of a global strategy on youth employment to anticipate and offset “the negative social and economic consequences of globalization and to maximize its benefits for young people”. The outcome of the High-level Meeting (A/65/L.87) noted some 17 areas of action on youth issues, including specific measures to advance inclusive job creation, skill development and vocational training designed for specific labour market needs.
The text also called for strengthening educational opportunities, promoting human rights knowledge among youth, and encouraging dialogue for mutual understanding. Governments are also urged to support the capacity of youth-led organizations so they can participate in national and international development activities.
While it was Member States that directly negotiated the text, more than 100 youth-led organizations made important contributions. These groups called for more inclusive citizenship, as well as strengthening partnerships with youth to jointly address the serious difficulties young people face.
Approximately 50 senior Government and UN officials, national youth delegates, civil society organizations and private sector representatives actively engaged in two panel discussions. These discussions were held consecutively on the first day of the meeting, addressing two themes: (i) "Strengthening international cooperation regarding youth and enhancing dialogue, mutual understanding and active youth participation as indispensable elements of efforts towards achieving social integration, full employment and the eradication of poverty," and (ii) "Challenges to youth development and opportunities for poverty eradication, employment and sustainable development."
Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic Affairs, and Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, noted that challenges facing youth development - such as poverty, low-quality education and unemployment - are interrelated. Therefore, he added, “these challenges must be addressed through cross-sectoral policies and programmes that are holistic in nature. Our approach should be respectful of the rights of youth to inherit a healthy planet, and sensitive to youth needs in employment and youth diversity. In short we need to foster sustainable development for youth and their future”.
At the plenary closing session, the panel co-Chairs presented summaries of the discussions. Strengthening international cooperation for youth was highlighted, as were other ways to support the eradication of poverty, full employment and social integration. For example, participants were reminded to better integrate youth issues in national development agendas, help strengthen national youth institutions and organizations of young people, and promote efforts to enhance inclusion and the effective participation of youth.
The High-level Meeting on Youth also featured a series of 33 side events by UN agencies, civil society, youth-led organizations, permanent missions and the private sector.
The meeting closed on Thursday, 28 July 2011.