Youth tell the world what youth policy is like in their countries


I had the pleasure of visiting Baku, Azerbaijan towards the end of 2014, where I met with 700 inspirational policy makers and youth from 166 countries for the first ever Global Forum on Youth Policies.

Being the UNDP Sudan Youth Focal Point, I have to say I’ve always wanted to meet with youth through different platforms to know how far they are engaged in development processes in their countries, and if not, try to understand why they are not engaged.

So for me, the forum provided a unique platform for inter-generational dialogue, for pinpointing the bottlenecks in the implementation of youth policies and for bringing forward the priorities of youth. With so many bright young minds in the room, the forum breathed fresh air and energy into our work. Their high spirits was contagious and it made me feel young and vibrant again!

The forum was co-organized by the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, UNDP, UNESCO and, the Council of Europe and hosted by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Youth and Sports.

What were the three key inspirations from the forum?

First of all, Youth are the leaders for change, so make it work!

At this moment, the world has the biggest generation of young people it has ever had, and the biggest we will probably ever have. So it is time to make it work. Invest more in them to play greater leading roles in all stages of the development cycle, e.g. planning, implementation and evaluation of programmes and policies. One of the things which I found most interesting , was to see some Ministers of Youth who  themselves were young and how different their visions and language of dialogue were from other Ministries.

A number of initiatives are led by youth and provide vivid examples of the fact that often the only thing that is required is a platform through which they can speak their minds, and they are ready to take off. Two of the best examples I found were the new Network of Youth Policy Experts for Africa as well as the Global Network of Youth Rights Experts.

Second of all, unity for youth because to do nothing is no longer an option!

The main outcome of this forum was to renew commitments to effective youth policies at national, regional and global levels. The forum concluded with the declaration of Baku Commitment which specified what youth policies should be, beyond just official commitments.

The high level of representation at the Forum reflected great commitment and strong willingness to engage in a meaningful dialogue which can yield concrete suggestions for specific follow-up action and the way forward for effective youth policies.

Lastly, if you have not yet been Baku, it is worth visiting !

So what’s beyond official commitments, what about Sudan?

Sudan doesn’t yet have its own Youth Policy:  Is this an opportunity or a challenge?

It is an opportunity as the youth will be in the driving seat from the very beginning of the policy process design and all throughout to ensure adequate response to their needs, aspirations and demands. It is an opportunity as the young people will realize their rights, what they can do, what they can claim and what they are responsible for. It is also an opportunity because when young people are adequately empowered and engaged everyone benefits, from Governments to the private sector to civil society organizations.

Challenges are uniquely universal but the key challenge I can see is how to get the concerns of simple vulnerable youngsters into the walls of Parliament and into educational, vocational, and health policies. This is the real challenge.

Dernier mot: ‘Young people are the leaders of tomorrow but we need to listen to them carefully today’, Ban Ki Moon

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