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Implementation of the UN Youth Strategy Youth 2030
One of the founding purposes of the United Nations was “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights” (Charter of the UN). With the passage of time, the rights of young people became increasingly included topic of the UN system. In 1996 the UN General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action on Youth (WPAY). The WPAY outlines 15 priority areas of action and every two years the General Assembly negotiates a resolution on youth as a follow-up to the WPAY. The Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth was established in 2013 with a mandate to highlight issues specifically relevant to young people, enhance the UN response to the needs of young people, and advocate for the promotion and protection of their needs and rights, as well as to bring the UN’s work on youth closer to young people. Furthermore the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) exists to strengthen collaboration and exchange among UN entities relevant to youth and increase the understanding and visibility of the UN system’s work on youth development. Youth-led organisations can work together with UN entities in IANYD through engaging in its sub-working groups that address different thematic areas of relevance to youth. In the year of 2012 a process called Post 2015 started to analyze what had worked and what had not for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as for the Education for All (EFA). Important new priorities emerged and paradigm shifts were presented, very much in line with the interests of the diverse range of stakeholders, which can be better understood in the context of Agenda 2030 – Education and Lifelong Learning in the Sustainable Development Goals their overall policies and objectives as well as from an historical perspective. But in conclusion there was no serious argument against positioning Post 2015 to deal with an unfinished EFA agenda as well as engaging fully with what is required now and in the nearer future by a fast-changing world. Education advocates argued again for a more visible inclusion of youth and adults into the future agenda, and it was stated early that adult education and learning is a key to implement all other development goals. One of the most important lessons learnt for post 2015 was the full integration of the EFA follow-up into the emerging SDGs. Korea hosted the WEF in May 2015, which in the Incheon Declaration came up with an overarching goal “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The WEF participants acclaimed this overall goal and its 7 targets and recommended it to New York for inclusion in the SDGs. The UN agreed to have the full outcome of the WEF as Goal 4 for the Agenda 2030. At that time a global process of consultation and decision making on education issues came to an end, which the conveners argued had been the broadest and deepest ever in the policy on education history. If one takes a comparative look at the 6 EFA goals and the 7 targets of Goal 4 in the SDGs, then SDGs Goal 4. However, there is one area which is completely new, as it goes beyond knowledge, competencies, and skills by bringing important aspects of attitudes and values as aims and outcomes of learning. They are covered by a target having as key words “education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development” and thereby bridging well into the spirit of all other SDGs.
Nowadays, the generation of young people is more numerous than ever, containing of 1.8 billion of them. Therefore, aspirations and achievements of these 1.8 billion people as well as investing in them and engaging and working with them are crucial in shaping the future. Being unevenly distributed (close to 90 per cent of them live in developing countries), many young people are facing serious challenges and even life-threatening risks. These are the challenges such as poverty, inequality and human rights violations, including rights to quality education, healthcare or decent work. These violations arise in situations of conflict, or when young people flee home in search of survival, or move for better opportunities.
Building on its unique global convening role, its mandate to serve the world’s peoples and its role as a partner and broker, the United Nations is uniquely placed to act as a source of protection and support for young people and a platform through which their needs can be addressed, their rights can be realized, their voice can be amplified, and their engagement can be advanced. It is obvious that the international community will not be able to achieve peace, security, justice, climate resilience and sustainable development for all without supporting the youth in terms of standing up for their rights and creating the conditions allowing them to progress and play an active role. Therefore, the United Nations have officially launched the Youth Strategy Youth 2030 in September of 2018 at a High-Level Event at the United Nations in New York. The purpose of this youth strategy is to guide the entire United Nations as it intensifies its work with and for young people in the fields of peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. It seeks to significantly strengthen the UN’s capacity to engage young people and benefit from their views, insights and ideas. It seeks to ensure the UN’s work on youth issues is pursued in a coordinated, coherent and holistic manner. The Strategy aims to facilitate increased impact and expanded global, regional and country-level action to address the needs, build the agency and advance the rights of young people in all their diversity around the world, and to ensure their engagement and participation in the implementation, review and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as other relevant global agendas and frameworks. The strategy’s official top priorities include:
- Engagement, participation and advocacy - Amplify youth voices for the promotion of a peaceful, just and sustainable world
- Informed and healthy foundations - Support young people’s greater access to quality education and health services
- Economic empowerment through decent work - Support young people’s greater access to decent work and productive employment
- Youth and human rights – Protect and promote the rights of young people and support their civic and political engagement
- Peace and resilience building – Support young people as catalysts for peace and security & humanitarian action
Today, the Youth Strategy implementation engages with 33 UN Entities and 130 UN Country Teams. As evidenced by their reporting on the status of implementation of the UN system-wide Youth Strategy in 2020, Youth2030 has gained more momentum across the UN system over the past two years. The highlights across priority programing areas of Youth2030 include: UN entities and UN Country Teams recalibrated the implementation of the strategy during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that the needs of youth were addressed rapidly and robustly through adaptation of ongoing programs and projects to respond to the pandemic, including innovations with youth and establishment of strategic partnerships for results and resources.
In the foundational areas of the UN system-wide Youth Strategy, guided by the youth focus in UN strategic plans and cooperation frameworks, there are a number of important initiatives, including: numerous efforts in the area of joint planning, implementation and coordination on youth to improve the coherence and effectiveness of delivery; changes in the youth workforce and internships and enhancement of the UN leadership and organizational culture to engage youth meaningfully.
Questions for the debate:
- What are the previous activities related to the UN Youth Strategy implemented by the UN Entities and UN Teams in the represented countries?
- What are the proposals of each country to further strengthen efforts in the UN system to meet the objectives of the Strategy and improve the position of young people?
- How much and in which ways can the Youth Strategy 2030 empower young people and improve their rights?