The First Global Forum on Youth Policies, co-convened by the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Council of Europe (COE), will kick off in Baku October 28th. The Forum is being hosted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Azerbaijan and is being organised with the support of the team of youthpolicy.org.
Why a Youth Policies Forum?
Developing and effectively implementing inclusive and participatory public policies on youth is not a simple task: it entails a cycle of actions, a series of parameters that cannot be objectively measured and significant challenges throughout the different stages of the process. Such policies require wide-based consultations, an effective and sustainable coordination among Ministries, as well as the integration of the National Policy on Youth in the National Development plans. At the same time, the effort to develop and implement inclusive and participatory policies on youth is by itself a step forward. Provided that it is followed up by effective measures and resources, it constitutes a long-term investment that opens up a series of opportunities for all stakeholders involved.
At its sixtieth session, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (60/2) on policies and programmes involving youth, requesting that the United Nations establish a broad set of indicators related to youth, which Governments and other actors may choose to use to monitor the situation of young people related to the priority areas identified in the World Programme of Action for Youth. In December 2005, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, held an Expert Group Meeting to define a set of indicators.
In spite of these advances and commitments, a number of challenges, including funding, legal and institutional frameworks, affect the efficiency and inclusiveness of National policies on Youth: Firstly, currently, one can find numerous examples of countries where the National Policies on Youth are managed by Youth Ministries with limited political power and resources. At the same time, sectoral Ministries tend to act independently on issues that affect youth, without mainstreaming youth concerns in their interventions in line with the National Policy on Youth. In some cases, this is further exacerbated by significant institutional gaps between the legislative sector and the executive sector (e.g. Ministry of Youth Affairs, Youth Commissions, etc.). This reality of fragmentation is reflected in all stages of devel-opment of a National Policy on Youth and constitutes a significant drawback in the implementation, the monitoring and, ultimately, the effectiveness of the policy. It also directly relates to the lack of broad macroeconomic policies affecting youth that are integrated into national development plans, gaps in identifying clearly the costs of programs and sources of funding, as well as the lack of government capacity to undertake comprehensive monitoring and evaluative processes.
Secondly, in many countries, youth participation structures are heavily challenged, both in terms of inclusiveness and in terms of efficiency. Opportunities for participation may be constrained or obfuscated and vary depending on a series of additional factors. Although certain avenues for participation are available through youth organizations, many of them lack funding and resources, and coordination across organizations tends to be absent or weak. Addressing these challenges is not only vital in terms of making decisions more relevant, sustainable and legitimate, but is equally needed in recognition of the special role that youth led-organizations play in giving young people power over their own lives. Legal, political and economic conditions for youth-led organizations need to improve and reflect their democratic and societal function.
Thirdly, the lack of reliable and accurate knowledge, as well as the lack of comparable data within and across countries and regions, remains a key challenge in the development of policies on youth. Coupled with the limited research specifically on youth issues, this severely hampers the development of evidence-based policies that can confidently and timely address specific concerns within specific contexts.
The Global Forum on Youth Policies will tackle these and other questions. To find out more, consult the Forum's Media Briefing or the Forum Programme. You can follow live updates on twitter through @ypforum2014 or by following the #youthpolicymatters and #undp4youth hashtags.
For more on how parliament can support youth initiatives and improve its policy-making on youth issues, take a look at the AGORA brief on 'Parliaments and Youth'.