Restless Development has been pushing for a debate on youth and international development in the UK House of Lords for some time, and we were delighted that on 4th April it finally happened.
The question, proposed by Baroness Morris of Bolton, asked the UK government “what steps they are taking in the UN International Year of Youth to support young people in the challenges they face, especially in developing countries.”
This was the first ever debate of its kind in the House of Lords. These give an opportunity for members of the House to scrutinize government legislation and raise significant topical issues, so the fact we’re beginning to see active engagement of the Lords in the issues of youth and development is hugely exciting.
All 11 contributors, described by Baroness Morris as “a glittering cast”, spoke with real enthusiasm and insight about the role of young people in development, submitting three key demands to the UK government:
- To ensure that the Department for International Development’s programmes are age-sensitive and responsive to the needs of young people.
- To commit to promoting youth-focused and youth-led development in international forums.
- To create a Department for International Development youth champion network.
Here are just a few short extracts from the speeches, highlighting a growing commitment within the House of Lords to youth-led development:
“The message is clear: young people represent a largely untapped asset in development.”
“We only have to cast our eyes towards the recent events in north Africa, the Middle East, the Gulf and Côte d'Ivoire to recognise the potency of young people when faced with the alternatives of hopelessness or change.”
“Young people are crucial to the strategies to achieve sustainable development.”
“Whatever poverty young people endure, there is no poverty of ambition.”
Restless Development leads a network of over 30 UK civil society organizations and young people working to demonstrate the essential role of youth in international development. As well as working to secure this debate and formulating briefing papers for the 11 speakers, this Youth Working Group has been helping the UK Department for International Development work more effectively with, and for, young people.
You can read the full transcript of the debate here