Alumni Network Launched

08 Feb 13

Young people recognised for their potential 

Last week, representatives of the UN High Level Panel, civil society and young people met in Monrovia to carry on the conversations around the post-2015 development agenda. At this second meeting of civil society and panelists, there was a firm focus on including groups that are too often excluded from global policy debates. Those organising civil society participation at the event, made sure particular space was given to representative speaking on behalf of Children, Youth, Women and Gender, Aged and Disability, and Farmers, Traders and the Informal Sector to share their views on ‘economic transformation’, the meeting’s overall theme. However, it was stressed throughout the meeting that whilst a new global development agenda should give special attention to the most vulnerable people, the focus should be on their potential rather than their vulnerability.

This message echoes the thoughts that came out of the youth outreach session at the previous meeting of the High Level Panel in London last November; that inclusion of young people in the post-2015 process is vital as they have the agency to be the banner carriers of the new development agenda and; their capacity for innovation must be recognised and harnessed as they bring new perspectives, fresh solutions and key insights to national and global challenges. The logic behind this thinking can be seen in the diverse projects on post-2015 that have been organised by youth groups in recent months including National Youth Consultations, Online Thematic Discussion and Regional Declarations.

It seems this message is being picked up across the board, as young people did not need to fight for a seat at the table in Monrovia; they were given their own roundtable session (coordinated by Restless Development and the Organisation for African Youth) and the impact of key issues on young people, such as unemployment and lack of meaningful education/training, were given consistent attention throughout the meeting. This meant that at the roundtable, youth representatives did not need to spend time convincing panelists to include them in post-2015 debates, but could have a productive discussion on how the post-2015 framework could help to create more and better economic opportunities for the young and overcome the challenges they currently face. Priority areas included:

• More and better jobs for young people• Quality, relevant education, including informal education and vocational training
• Attention of policy-makers and private sector officials to matching labour demand and supply
• Access to resources – in particular financial support and land – to give young people the means to become independent and self-sustaining.

Restless Development at Monrovia

Perhaps the most valuable message to come out of civil society discussion in Monrovia both from a youth perspective and more broadly is the need for joined-up thinking around post-2015. All groups, not least youth, were recognised for the added-value of their presence and were asked to develop individual vision statements sharing their particular priorities and emphasizing their unique abilities. The trick going forward will be to work out the best way of ensuring that these different priorities are integrated into a coherent framework that is bigger than the sum of its parts and can deliver the inclusive, equitable, sustainable development that everyone is pushing for at their own tables. The 4th meeting of the High Level Panel in Bali should take this conversation up a level as it is focused on the theme of ‘global partnerships and means of implementation’.

Watch this space…

• To find out more about civil society participation in Monrovia and read the final Communiqué click here
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