The Permanent Forum on Youth
Petra Stipanié, Slovenia
These last few days at the UN General Assembly 3rd Committee discussions with youth delegates, I have heard a lot about The Permanent Forum on Youth and as WAGGGS fully supports this idea I would like to explain more.
The 68th UNGA Resolution on Policies and Programmes on Youth could be a landmark General Assembly resolution, paving the way for the institutionalization of young people and youth issues in the UN structure through exploring possibilities of having a permanent forum on youth.
What is The Permanent Forum on Youth and why is so important?
A UN Permanent Forum on Youth is a mechanism that meaningfully provides young people with an avenue through which policy at the highest levels can be affected and the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) can be monitored. WPAY is another important document which we can use as delegates because Member states of the UN sign this document so we can hold them accountable for things mentioned in the document. It is binding so they have to follow it. This can be a very powerful advocacy tool for WAGGGS!
The UN Permanent Forum on Youth creates a permanent mechanism through which young people can be meaningfully engaged in the policy work of the United Nations. This is a departure from the current, ad hoc entities that only give youth a token opportunity to be involved in UN processes. Right now we are just clients and consultants, but this has to change. We are the biggest group of youth in history - there are currently 1.8 billion youth in the world. The UN Permanent Forum on Youth would create a platform in which young people and youth-led organisations can play a role in the creation of relevant youth policy.
A Permanent Forum on Youth would not undermine the intergovernmental nature of the UN, but rather strengthen the UN through partnership, allowing advice to flow from the Permanent Forum to ECOSOC and the General Assembly (3rd Committee) and allow for the assessment of commitments governments have made. It is similar to models that work effectively in the African Union, Council of Europe and Ibero-American Youth Organisation.
The UN should open itself up to youth. Youth should not be seen as a marketplace for UN organisations competing in “selling itself” to establish legitimacy.
Please also see the proposed structure below.
Any comment on this body would be welcome so I can forward the ideas to Youth delegates who can influence the policy papers.
An exciting journey
Petra Stipanié, Slovenia
On the 6 October I finished packing my bags and left for New York, the city where they say everything is possible to achieve. I was confident it would be great.
I was chosen as a WAGGGS delegate to the UN 3rd Committee to deliver a speech and work on the new Youth resolution with other youth delegates from all over the world.
UN 3rd Committee is The Social, Humanitarian, Cultural Affairs Committee and they work on agenda items relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues that affect people all over the world. The Committee also discusses the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the right to self- determination. The Committee also addresses important social development questions such as issues related to youth, family, ageing, persons with disabilities, crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
I was there to ‘’test the ground” for WAGGGS so we can see how much we can actually contribute as an NGO and how we can influence with our member's vision of the world and future policies. Unfortunately NGOs can’t input much in the debates due to certain restrictions but we can advocate our work through other youth delegates and get our points across through them. So in the end, it's all about advocacy, and that is what I am trying to do. I am talking to a lot of influential people, talking to delegates so they get to know WAGGGS, what we stand for and I am trying to put my input into their discussions, especially to highlight the gender perspective. Through them we can influence agendas and policy making. It is a hard job as a lot of people have to follow the opinion of their countries and ‘’follow the budget’’, meaning that if there is money invested in discussing about gender issues they will, if not they will talk about something else because they get most of their funding from their countries.
I was very lucky to be invited to speak at the Brazilian Side Event on Strengthening Youth participation in the UN for meaningful engagement and decision-making. Some other speakers at the table (full of men) were: Ravi Karkari from UN-HABITAT, Serenne Macedo from National Youth Council of Brazil, Jerry Den Haan, a board member of European Youth Forum, Usman A. Mushtah as a representative of Norway and others.
Most recently, the Government of Brazil and UN-Habitat and other partners have supported youth participation through promoting the establishment of new mechanisms of engagement in the UN system such as the Permanent Forum on Youth. The Permanent Forum has been advanced through declarations from the Youth 21 initiative, the Rio+20 High Level Panel on Youth, the XVI Latin American Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, and the recent Extraordinary Conference Youth Ministers and High-Level Representatives on Youth that are members of the Ibero-American Youth Organization (OIJ).
I was there to bring a different perspective and experience, in an attempt to explore common understandings and expectations for the creation of new and meaningful mechanisms for engagement in the UN.
The speech that I made on behalf of WAGGGS was about emphasizing youth participation as a fundamental human right clearly stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other key international documents. Therefore we stand for participation as a right for all and not just the privilege of a few. We want to influence change and be part of decision making at all levels and we want to be directly engaged. Over the past few years youth participation has been gaining prominence as one of the most important issues in youth work and youth policy. There has also been a significant shift from treating young people as a vulnerable group; young people are now widely recognized as active players in their communities, drivers of economic growth and leaders of democratic reforms. Still, young people’s role in decision making, and particularly the participation of girls and young women, remains limited. Yet being able to have their say and participating in the processes and decisions that affect their lives is critical to girl’s empowerment. Girls and young women must have access to a ‘seat at the table’ in development discussions at local, national and global level. This will ensure decisions being made that will affect the lives of girls and young women also include their voices and priorities, and increases the chances of gender equitable outcomes.
It is also widely recognized that participation is not an end in itself, but also a means to achieving a positive change in society. And through participation young people do contribute to this change. On the example of MDGs we have seen how a lack of participation and consultation led to a limited impact for young people and particularly girls and young women. Despite the significant successes of the MDGs, 600 million adolescent girls remain the world’s most economically vulnerable group.
Recently however, we have seen improvements in the field, with the creation of the role of the Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth being the key milestone; there is also a wider acknowledgment in the UN on the importance of better mechanisms of youth participation in the UN. There have also been improvement with regards to youth participation and consultation. There has been an unprecedented dialogue and consultation with young people with regards to what they want to see in the new development agenda beyond 2015, and that has been a significant move forward if compared with MDGs. Youth have been consulted during the High-Level panel on post-2015 outreach with civil society organizations, in consultations organized by the UNDP and civil society consultations. WAGGGS has done a lot regarding the inclusion of girls and young women in these debates. We have been part of High-Level panel outreach discussions and we have widely consulted with girls and young women on their priorities for the future development agenda. However how can we be confident (and I am sure I am sharing the concerns of thousands of young people and youth organizations) that their priorities and views will be taken into account and will feed into the framework that will govern our lives for the next 15 or so years to come? Therefore, meaningful participation is not only about consultation, but also about having a say in policy formulation, as well as taking over and sharing responsibility.
This explains why young people need a body such as The Permanent Forum on Youth to increase youth engagement in the UN system and ensure they have influence over decisions that affect their lives. And there is a precedent of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to show us how to proceed with this idea. There should be no barriers to achieve this. Especially because young people need it and the UN needs young people! Youth should be equally engaged in policy making and influencing the global development agenda, otherwise we believe that policies adopted cannot fully respond to the needs of young people.
We want to be taken on board but not just as clients and consultants. We need to materialise this into a sustainable mechanism where we also shape the policies. We believe it is our right to be part of shaping the agendas and to be engaged in implementing and monitoring the process. A Permanent Forum on youth would allow that. This scenario is the only scenario which truly allows a comprehensive youth engagement in the UN and it can give a space for action.
25 September: WAGGGS receives MY World People's Choice Award
On 25 September, WAGGGS delegates attended the MY World Partner Recognition Event and MY World Awards Ceremony. The event was to recognize the work of those partners who had stood out for their performance in the promotion of the MY World survey at the national or international level.
Among the guests were: Ms. Amina J Mohammed, Special Adviser to the Secretary General on Post-2015 Development Planning, Ms. Corinne Woods, Global Director UN Millennium Campaign, Mr. Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, and Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth. There were also representatives of UN Member States, members of the press and media, civil society representatives and representatives of the corporate sector.
There were ten categories of Awards, one of them being the MY World People’s Choice Award which Mirna received on behalf of WAGGGS from Ahmed Alhendawi, the Secretary General's Special Envoy on Youth.
“Muchas gracias. It is amazing to be here representing the world's largest organization for girls and young women.
I want to thank you for recognizing this collective effort. It started with 17 post-2015 ambassadors of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in different countries. But now, I am receiving this award on behalf of hundreds of girls and young women around the world.
I could experience by first-hand how powerful it is to have girls and young women approaching adults on the streets, explaining them what MY World is about and why it is so important. And it has a lot to do with the spirit of volunteerism,that helps us empowering these girls to become future leaders and responsible citizens of the world.
In Bolivia, we used to approach people saying "your voice matters", and I am sure that I share the same hope with all the people in this room and all the MY World Partners around the world: That the voices of the people are at the heart of the decisions that will share the future we really want.
24 September: Pippa Gardner, speaks on behalf of youth at UN high level political forum on sustainable development
Today the first meeting of the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development took place at the UN headquarters building in New York. With only two speaking slots reserved for civil society, Pippa was selected by the Major Group of Children and Youth to deliver their statement.
"I was honoured to be selected to speak at this momentous event! There are countless active young people taking part in this UN process and so I didn’t think I had a chance of being selected. I was a little nervous in the run up to giving the speech, but I feel it went really well from all the positive feedback I’ve received. I think I succeeded in waking up the room and making them listen to the ideas of youth towards the latter stages of a very long agenda.” shared Pippa.
Read more about the event on WAGGGS main website
24 September: The IWECI Summit
Climate Change has disproportionate effects, and women are the most affected ones. Among them, girls and young women, especially in developing countries take the worst part. But it doesn’t mean women are part of the problem to be solved because indeed, women have the solutions. Women are the main educators, land keepers and food providers. They know how to build a new economy system based on community benefit and not in individual profit.
That is why the IWECI Summit is so important. It is gathered 100 amazing women specialized on different areas related to climate change. Policy makers, indigenous leaders, climate scientists, NGO founders, were sitting all together discussing common solutions that will be translated into a single Women’s Climate Action Agenda.
I am thrilled to be part of this and have great expectative from this new network because all the delegates are empowered women that understand the urgency of the climate crisis and they have the capacity to reach the girls and young women empowerment on environmental issues.
I’ve heard wonderful words from women as Jane Goodall – who is my personal hero – and Vandana Shiva – who has shaped the socio environmental paradigm that I advocate for. I am totally inspired and ready to go back to Bolivia with renewed energies and work as hard as possible to make this dream a reality.
Making the first changes to reach the world we want for girls is in our hands. If we don't start, nobody will.
23 September: Making our voices heard
My day started heading to the UN Headquarters to attend the MDG Success event. Today, the security within the UN complex has tightened, since many head of states are arriving for the UN General Assembly. I was a bit early for the event, so I had a chance to walk around the UNHQ, and I found myself grabbing a cup of coffee at the cafeteria. It was interesting to see the coffee sleeve, which has the message that says “End Rape in War.” Gender-based violence is something missing in the Millennium Development Goals, and one of the key messages that WAGGGS is pushing is to eliminate gender-based violence worldwide.
The MDG Success: Accelerating Action, Partnering for Impact event was high-level meeting led by the UN Secretary General himself, Ban Ki-moon. We have been working towards the next set of goals beyond 2015, after the expiration of the MDGs, but we should not lose hope yet on achieving them. Being the largest anti-poverty initiative worldwide in history, the MDGs have successes and shortcomings that we can learn from as we continue to push for human development and sustainable development into a single set of goals. In the current events worldwide, we need to understand that “peace, security and development are inseparable”, as highlighted by Dr. Jim Yong Kim of World Bank. Economic growth and jobs creation will be very critical, and global partnerships will be key to ensuring transparency, inclusiveness and universality. Policies need to be proactive, and we have to keep pressing that those have to reach the marginalized groups, specifically girls and young women.
After listening to prominent speakers from all over the world, it was delighting to move to another event that focuses on the voices from the people. The UN High Level Panel for Post-2015 has recommended a people-centered agenda, reflecting the issues and concerns of people who actually experience inequalities and extreme poverty. Today, the UN Development Group launched “A Million Voices: The World We Want” report, which showcases the consultations that will hopefully feed in the post-2015 agenda. The consulations have revealed the continuing indignity of poverty, inequality, injustice and security. Many girls and young women participated in many consultations, and we have also been participating in the MyWorld survey.
When we talk about voices of the people, often times it is easy that youth voices, no matter how hard we speak out are not heard. These past few days we are seeing the irony that many young people are actively engaged many side events, but there is such a small number of official youth delegates in the UN General Assembly, where the major decisions be made. We don’t want to just be speaking in the corridors. We don’t want to be merely heard; we want to be a part of all the deliberations and negotiations. As Monique Coleman said “Young people have ideas, solutions and energies; we just need opportunities for building the world that we want.” And being part of WAGGGS delegation here in the UN GA is such a great opportunity to start telling the world that “Hey, we are girls, but we can make things happen!"
23rd September: So what is with WAGGGS being at the UN General Assembly week?
After two fairly long blog posts about my time so far at the events surrounding the United Nations General Assembly I thought I'd take a step back and offer a plain language (and hopefully helpful!) blog post about just why WAGGGS Delegates are in New York this week!
As the largest organisation in the world for girls and young women WAGGGS have a huge role to play in building a better world- just like the United Nations. We do this through non-formal education programs run not only for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts but for their communities as well. You will already know that much of our work helps create capable, confident and socially aware female leaders- but WAGGGS also does a lot to promote gender equality and human rights as well. To help us do this at all levels from local, national and global we have a special relationship with the United Nations and we try our best to promote and participate in ways which helps fight poverty, promote diversity and live sustainably.
Have you taken part in our Global Action Theme 'Together we can change our world'? This special call to action has helped millions of girls and women to explore a special set of United Nations goals known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals were agreed on in the year 2000 and were created to help eradicate global poverty. But the thing is, they come with an expiration date- 2015, which means it is almost time to decide 'what comes next?'
Much work has been happening over many years to help the United Nations answer this question- and WAGGGS has been there all along the way! From having WAGGGS Delegates attending High Level events to helping communities take part in global consultations such as the My World Survey, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts want to make sure that what comes next recognises the unique needs and potential of the world's girls and women.
Through this blog you will see reference to 'Post2015'. This is the term given to 'what comes next?' WAGGGS has undertaken our own research, consultations and campaigns (such as 'Stop the Violence' and 'The World We Want For Girls') to help us determine what progress is still needed in the final years of the MDGs and what goals we want to see Post2015. So, as world Leaders meet in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly including a Special Event on the MDGs, WAGGGS Delegates are there too! Though our blog you will see us out and about this week attending lots of different events being run both by the UN and other organisations and at each event we make it clear that WAGGGS calls for the Post 2015 development agenda to prioritise the rights of girls and women and contain one stand alone goal to bring about true and sustainable Gender Equality!
I hope you have as much fun following us on our blog, twitter and facebook as us WAGGGS Delegates have representing you at UNGA 68!
21 September: Two Very Different Meetings
This morning Mitch and took the subway downtown to the People's General Assembly in Thomas Paine Park. It was an interesting set up, with some really passionate speakers, and Mitch, a Philippino Girl Scout, managed to get on the Philippines TV news within five minutes of our arrival. The combination of different kinds of messages was nice to see - a photograhic exhibition about Bangladesh Garment Workers was there to look at between an alternating programme of speakers, comments from the crowd and creative performances.
There were lots of valuable messages spoken about, but I struggled to see how the calls for a development agenda reflecting the needs of the people were going to be heard by the UN decision makers when the crowd was largely made up of active members of the NGOs who were putting on the event. I think it was a valuable event for the people involved but I'm not sure what the outcome is on a larger scale.
We then headed to the Beyond 2015 campaign's meeting to organise civil society for the coming events. I don't think I could have been to 2 more opposite civil society events in one day. The highly organised network, with key messages based on thorough consultations and participatory research, started out with an outline of where we think the process will go from here, how we can influence it, and who's able to give insight on the current position of various countries. It was great to see a diagram on how the various different strands of the process might ultimately combine, helping me to envisage how the WAGGGS Post-2015 Ambassadors might engage with the process.
We also heard that the negotiations of the outcome document from next Wednesday's Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals, have already concluded. The good news is that gender equality is mentioned.
20 September: A Day In The Life of A WAGGGS UN Delegate...
Having reached the hotel at nearing 1am last night, I was surprisingly awake by 5am (having slept on the plane) and kick started the day with some tweets for WAGGGS' #MDGRally. There's 100 weeks left in the scope of the MDGs and the rally aims to raise awareness of the ongoing work on them. Join in on social media.
Then 7.30am rolled around and time for our delegation breakfast meeting. We talked about the day ahead confirmed who was going where and what letter we needed to pick up what pass to get there. Entry to the UN site isn't too bad until Sunday - though still requires a lot of confirmation letters to be printed! From Monday, the high level segment begins when ministers and heads of state will be milling about. So your average jo representing a youth organisation will have a much harder time getting in.
I headed off to pick up my grounds pass at 9am - they're still using my photo from my first CSW in 2011 which was an awful photo where I look rather ill. Then I collected a secondary ticket from another location and made it onto the UN Grounds. Having met up with various people from the Major Group on Children and Youth (MGCY, the collective organising group of children and youth is sustainable development processes), I made it to the conference room for the 20th and final annual session of the Commission of Sustainable Development. This is a platform that was set up in 1992 by the outcomes of the first Rio conference on the Environment and Development. Based on the outcome of the Rio conference I attended in 2012 it is now being wound up, to be replaced by the High Level Political Forum that will begin next week as the new UN mechanism for moving forward on sustainable development.
The session was a great lesson in public speaking. I remember the engaging ones and haven't a clue what others said. My highlights were (obviously) the youth speeches - short, sweet and to the point - as well as a retrospective video on the work of the CSD to date, and some great points raised by Barbara Adams (you can read her report here). Overall the sentiment is that the engagement and participation of civil society groups is key to achieving sustainable development - the test will be whether the new forum delivers that.
In the afternoon I headed to the Youth Blast session, run by the MGCY to give a little training and orientation to any young people attending the General Assembly. I saw many familiar faces from Rio, and as many again new ones. I found it really informative to undertake a group timeline activity - each contributing our knowledge on the past, present and future of development processes to a colourful timeline. I then participated in discussions around communication, though with a warm and stuffy atmosphere it was clear we were all beginning to flag.
Working in marketing, I've never found a perfect solution to communication. It's either too much or too little, wrong method or medium. It all depends on the audience. We outlined a few ways we thought the MGCY could improve its own communication to be more transparent and easier to engage with, because, right now, it's a daunting prospect for someone new to the concepts to try and get stuck in through the email listserve.
We finished the session with a group photograph, and even though I know how valuable the socialisation time is, I couldn't face a trip to the bar with the other youth, so have retreated to eat some dinner, write this blog and desperately try to stay awake for another delegation meeting at 9pm tonight.
Today has been a day of learning, a day of getting back into the swing of things, and a day of figuring out what I can achieve for WAGGGS, Girlguiding UK and myself from these days in New York.
19 September: Days 2 and 3 of the ‘Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development’ Open Meeting
Day two started in spectacular style at the United Nations Headquarters! All IANYD participants were invited to attend a ‘Roundtable Dialogue on Investing in Young People’ chaired by Ahmad Alhendawi- the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth. Conference Room One was buzzing as we soaked in not only the UN atmosphere but information from a panel of great speakers. We were honoured to have the Ambassadors of both Norway and Sri Lanka on our panel as well as representatives from such organisations as the UNDP, UNFPA, ILO, SCIS and Microsoft (yes, the development world is full of acronyms- if you want to learn more search for them online to check out their amazing work!)
Each speaker, including some of our own IANYD participants, had the chance to address the Roundtable on topics related to the System Wide Action Plan document. We heard how young people are 3 times more likely than other people to be unemployed- more specifically the ILO described how “young people are often under-employed and working below their skill level”. Microsoft explained that “to give young people the opportunities they need to realise their dreams we need to be creating jobs and not just job-seekers”. The importance of mentoring and entrepreneurship was also highlighted with the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth stating that “an entrepreneur is someone who realises that there are many challenges but doesn’t give up“. Let’s hope that through Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting we can create not only great female entrepreneurs but great female mentors and leaders in both business and community.
The UNDP spoke on the creation of such young leaders and offered the sad statistic that 1/3 of the countries of the world have regulations stating that you must be over 25 to be a member of their Parliament- thus locking out youth from meaningful participation in decision making. They also highlighted the struggles for gender equality in political participation stating that “girls lag behind and are unable to contribute to their country through political participation”. WAGGGS also believes that gender equality is key to a better future, not just for youth but for all. Your WAGGGS Delegates are out and about in New York this week calling on global decision makers to ensure gender equality and empowerment of girls and women remain a strong priority in the ppst-2015 development agenda.
In the afternoon of day two and the morning of day three participants broke into working groups to plan the next steps for implementing the Youth System Wide Action Plan. This was an exciting opportunity to put our brains together and create something great to help action a better world for all youth. My working group put together a proposal for a permanent UN Forum on youth and with support from UN Habitat we will continue to work as a team from our own countries to further our proposal and push the call to permanently support youth through the United Nations system. Overall the IANYD Open Meeting was a great chance to learn more about the United Nations’ commitment to prioritise youth and to start to take action to further the participation and prioritising of youth through the UN.
After the Open Meeting ended Anush and Erin headed back to UNHQ to attend the Major Groups and other Stakeholder Meeting 1. This was a chance for representatives from major development groups, community organisations and interested thematic groups to be updated on current workings and plans related to development including progressing the MDGs and timelines on how the UN will decide on the post 2015 development agenda. After this we joined Pippa and Mitch for the Youth Blast event. This was great event for young people to learn about the UN system, lobbying, the coming General Assembly and do’s and don’ts from the Major Group on Children and Youth. We were also given the chance to breakout into groups to put forward recommendations on topics of interest to our organisations. I was proud to represent the voice of WAGGGS in the Gender Equality and Human Rights groups.
If you want to find out more about WAGGGS position on important issues such as gender equality please check out the WAGGGS website and get involved in great initiatives such as the International Day of the Girl and the #MDGRally.
Today is the first day of a 3 day Open Meeting of the Inter Agency Network on Youth Development. The meeting is being held at UNFPA Headquarters in New York and Michelle, Anush and myself are representing WAGGGS at this meeting with delegates from other youth organisations from around the globe. The aim of the meeting is:
- To establish an open dialogue between the IANYD and young people
- Share progress made in implementing the priorities of the Secretary General on working with and for young people
- Identify concrete proposals for partnerships between youth-lead organisations, networks and movements and the United Nations entities implementing the System Wide Action Plan on Youth
- Establish mechanisms for accountability, increased participation and to ensure that programs reach the most marginalised
Our day started with an introduction from Daniel Bas of UN DESA who told us that "young people must be the centre of our work". She was followed by Laura Laski of the UNFPA who told us to look on the meeting as "an opportunity for the UN to support the young people of the world to reach the young people of the world." Next we were given an insight into the IANYD which was formed in 2010 to increase youth participation in the work of the United Nations and of their 'Youth SWAP' document which much of our 3 day meeting will be based on. The Youth SWAP will be a living document and is based on key areas with a strong human rights based approach which it is aimed will be implemented at all levels from the UN to global, regional and national. The 5 areas are: employment and entrepreneurship; protection of rights, political inclusion and civic engagement; education including comprehensive sexuality education; and heath.
A highlight of the morning sessions was an address from Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary General's Envoy on Youth. Ahmad spoke passionately about the needs of the largest youth population of all time stating that we can not afford to not invest in 1/2 of the world's population. He also made special mention that young women and girls are still in their long fight for equality- an issue which WAGGGS is working hard on.
The rest of the day was spent in thematic area sessions looking at avenues for partnerships as well as in the world cafe where our very own Michelle Alvarez spoke the important role gender can play in development. We are very much looking forward to day two of this open meeting event!
17th September: The Weeks Ahead
Tonight I am packing for my trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Facebook tells me other members of the delegation, who are arriving earlier and travelling further, are already preparing to depart. Together we will be representing WAGGGS, 10 million girls and young women and youth as a whole to a number of different events between the 17th and 27th September.
Mitch and Erin are setting out for the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development meeting this week. I’ll arrive just in time for the closing session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Mirna will be at the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit over next weekend. Then we will all be participating in the events building up to the special event on the MDGs on the 25th, - on the dame day when Fezile, from South Africa, will be speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative.
I also have the honour of speaking on behalf of youth, and civil society as a whole, at the first meeting of the High Level Political Forum. This is a new forum, taking over from the Commission on Sustainable Development, to talk about sustainable development in the highest level political arena. The other speakers at this opening session are heads of state and important ministers. I am nervous and excited to have 3 minutes of their attention and a very important message – we have one planet, we need to look after it, and ensure everybody can live dignified and fulfilling lives within its capabilities.
Having first learnt about the Millennium Development Goals in my secondary school geography lessons, I have since been involved in a wide range of connected projects through Guiding. It seems incredible to think I know have the opportunity to ensure that the needs of girls and young women, and youth in general, the world over, will get to be reflected in the next global development agenda.
If you’d have told the 11 year old me in those geography lessons that, one day, I would have the attention of world leaders, I wouldn’t have believed you. But to be fair I still need to pinch myself every now and again to check that I’m not imagining it all.
There will be a series of blog posts over the next 2 weeks from the members of the delegation, explaining what we are doing in New York, and giving you an insider’s view of the events taking place.