We spent three days with over 700 youth activists, academic and technical experts, legislators and policymakers from over 165 countries exchanging information on the state of youth policies. What an experience! I wish we could have provided you with the live updates during the conference as intended. However, with over 700 people connecting to a single internet access point, connectivity was challenging. However, we are glad that you can view video excerpts from the conference here: http://vimeo.com/ypforum2014 and read the Baku Commitment to Youth Policies issued at the end of the Forum.
Over the three days, participants in the First Global Forum on Youth Policies exchanged information on progress in their countries and regions with respect to:
- The status of implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 200 and Beyond which is now 20 years old;
- Guiding Principles for Youth Policy: Rights-based design; inclusiveness; participation; gender-responsiveness; comprehensiveness; evidence-base; full resourcing and accountability
- Best practices in national and regional youth policy formulation and challenges in implementation in respect of an impressive array of thematic areas: education, employment and entrepreneurship, peace and security, health, participation, volunteerism, environmental protection, gender equality, justice, urbanization and housing, social inclusion, information communication and leisure.
- Methods and approaches to securing commitments to the common denominators of a “modern” youth policy – compiling the evidence base for policy formulation; securing youth and stakeholder participation; formulating the legal frameworks and instruments; securing political leadership/commitment and mobilization of resources; securing cross-sectoral/transversal commitments to implementation across government and non-governmental stakeholders; and building effective monitoring and evaluation systems.
Some of the key debates which caught my attention (and perhaps remain unresolved) include:
- How best do we ensure accountability for implementation of youth development priorities? By Youth Laws or by Youth Policies and Strategies?
- What is the role of regional organisations in youth policy? Should there be a single Regional Policy or a regional action plan for coordinating national policies?
- Youth Participation is critical at all stages of the policy process (formulation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and revision) but which are the best ways to secure effective participation?
- For example, with respect to monitoring, are National Youth Councils the right entities to be involved? What about governments?
- Do these organisations have the capacity, the independence and objectivity?
- What is the role of academic institutions in the monitoring process and in supporting youth participation?
One of the benefits of the conference was that it facilitated time for a small Caribbean Working Group to meet to discuss the implications of questions like these for the region and to discuss some next steps in advancing youth policy in the region.
Out of those discussions, new partnerships have been formed between SALISES 50/50 Youth and the Caribbean Regional Youth Council (CRYC) and representatives of National Youth Councils, Ministries and Departments of Youth and other youth practitioners. We have plans to work together to build the regional capacity for youth policy analysis to ensure effective monitoring of the state of policy responses to youth development needs in the region. This will serve as a means of advocacy for national accountability for formulation and implementation of youth policies.
We also have the endorsement of these stakeholders for our plans to celebrate Caribbean Youth Day next year on 30th September, 2015 with a special Caribbean Youth Development Conference. The conference will provide an opportunity for you to join the discussion in person and connect with some of the interesting and knowledgeable people we have been interacting with in Baku and other forums.
Stay tuned for announcements on these two new initiatives!
FYI: We have a new email address so you can connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org