1 June, 2017

Making space for youth in development co-operation

By Josefina Villegas, Technical Assistant at the Latin American and Caribbean Youth Forum and Juan Camilo Molina Bolívar, Coordinator at the Observatory for Development Cooperation in Ecuador

Editor’s note: Read the Nairobi Youth Statement from the Second High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership here.

Six months after the Second High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (HLM2), the youth that gathered and met in Nairobi have continued their work on making youth an active stakeholder in effective development co-operation. We come from all continents, and we represent civil society, grassroots organisations and government institutions. We are women, migrants, farmers and workers. We are members of faith-based organisations as well as indigenous communities. We are active members of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE). We are cross-sectional, and we have created space for representation in state bureaucracy and parliament at national, regional and international levels.

The first step towards our goal was made possible by the government of Kenya, which hosted HLM2. Kenya granted the time and space to hold a Youth Forum, taking place alongside a Women’s Forum during the preparatory days preceding HLM2’s official two-day agenda. Much was discussed about the role of youth in development co-operation and, in consequence, about the role of youth in the Global Partnership. There was common agreement on two political and methodological issues of the Partnership:

  • There are no specific mechanisms within the Global Partnership’s multi-stakeholder platform that guarantee active youth participation
  • There are no specific indicators or tools that address or facilitate the gathering of information regarding youth involvement and participation in development co-operation

During the HLM2 formal discussions, many stakeholders spoke about the importance of investing in youth. But crucial questions remained unaddressed: Who should invest in youth? And how? As youth representatives, we have the answers to these questions. Yet, it seems that the youth message is not fully heard, despite our ostensible engagement in various fora and meetings.

We are real, concrete, active actors in development. We represent the largest youth population in the history of humanity. The implications of our size alone, in terms of workforce and consumption, but also regarding innovation and sustainability, among other things, is a simple and clear illustration of the importance of our role in society. Conversations around sustainable development and effective development co-operation must make space for youth advocacy, and must prioritise the collection of data on youth participation in the development and sustainability agendas.

The Youth Declaration drafted in Nairobi is our stand on youth engagement in development co-operation. It is time youth are no longer seen as passive recipients of development co-operation, but rather actively incorporated in the development discourse.

DISCLAIMER: This blog is a forum for sharing the diverse views of its varied contributors on important and emerging issues of Effective Development Co-operation. The posts do not necessarily reflect the view of the Global Partnership, its Co-Chairs, Steering Committee members, or of the joint UNDP/OECD support team.