» "How Youth Drive Change" - UNESCO Youth Forum 2011
13.10.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

"How Youth Drive Change" - UNESCO Youth Forum 2011


From 17 to 20 October 2011, the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris under the theme “How youth drive change”. This year’s edition of the Forum, boasts a star-studded lineup of speakers, including UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation and Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker and the United Nations Youth Champion and star of High School Musical, Monique Coleman. The event will be opened by Egyptian blogger and activist Gigi Ibrahim, recognized by TIME magazine as “one of the leaders of Tahrir Square”, with Spanish indignado Andrés Villena, a young blogger and activist of the15M movement.

Two hundred and forty five youth delegates from 193 Member States and over 250 civil society observers will participate in the Forum. Among them will be two exceptional young people from Colombia, José Javier Maldonado and Carmen Liliana Narvaez. Less than a year ago both were members of Colombian armed groups. They decided to drop arms and reintegrate society by engaging in programs for social inclusion implemented by their government.

Two young observers from Brazil’s favelas will also attend. After becoming involved in the UNESCO projects “Criança Esperança” and “Open School” benefiting from cultural, athletic and educational activities, they have chosen to abandon illicit activities linked with organized crime (i.e. narcotic trafficking).

Other eminent participants include Colombian musician and anti-violence activist César López, creator of the electric guitar converted from an AK-47, celebrated Brazilian poet and author Paulo Coelho, and the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes.

Discussions at the Youth Forum will focus on three subthemes that underline the importance of democratic values for youth:

  •          Citizens in action: youth in political and public life
  •          Countering youth exclusion, vulnerability and violence
  •          Breaking through employment barriers

During the Forum, UNESCO will sign three major youth partnership agreements

The first of these partnerships will be signed on 18 October with the International Youth Foundation. The partnership with UNESCO will focus on 180 youth-led projects in Africa, aimed at skill-building, as well as providing access to professional networks, coaching and mentoring, financial resources and advocacy opportunities.

The following day (19 October), UNESCO will join forces with the Monaco-based Peace and Sport organization, with which UNESCO will develop projects in post-conflict, post-disaster situations. These projects will use sport as a means of helping young people overcome trauma and reconstruct their lives.

On 20 October, the Organization will sign up with TAFISA (Association for International Sport for All). This partnership will focus on building leadership skills through the Volunteer Initiative for Peace through Sport (VIPS), based at the African Sport for All Academy in Tanzania.

The Youth Forum this year also marks the start of a two-year campaign for youth supported by

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Nizan Guanaes of Brazil and his companies, Grupo ABC and DDB Brazil. The campaign seeks to turn the Youth Forum from a single event into a participatory process spanning the world. Ambassador Guanaes will launch the Youth Voice Tour that aims to capture young people expressing their specific desires to see change in the world and in their communities. The Youth Voice Microphone will travel the globe over 24 months bringing the voices of the world’s youth back to the 8th UNESCO Youth Forum in 2013.


10 Key Facts and Figures

Youth exclusion, vulnerability and violence

-          Young people constitute a major proportion of those living in poverty across the world – almost 209 million live on less than US$ 1 a day, 515 million live on less than US$ 2 a day. (UN-DESA, 2005)

-          Approximately 565 young people aged 10 - 29 die every day through interpersonal violence. (WHO, 2002)

-          98% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school and 99% of girls with disabilities are illiterate. (UNESCO, 2011)

Youth employment

-          Youth are more than three times as likely to be unemployed than adults (ILO) ;

-          Youth unemployment rose from 11.9 % to 13% from 2007 to 2009, an increase of 7.8 million<a name="_ftnref1" href="#_ftn1">[1]</a>

-          “Youth labour force participation rates decreased globally from 53.8 per cent in 2000 to 50.9 per cent in 2010, which means that today only every second young person is active in labour markets around the world”<a name="_ftnref2" href="#_ftn2">[2]</a>.


-          “Worldwide, the literacy rate of youth (aged 15 to 24) increased from 83 per cent to 89 per cent between 1990 and 2009”<a name="_ftnref3" href="#_ftn3">[3]</a>.

-          The increase of non-formal education initiatives contributed to developing life and livelihood skills in countries where large proportions of the youth population are left out of the formal education system<a name="_ftnref4" href="#_ftn4">[4]</a>.


-          According to UNDP’s Arab Human Development Report of 2009, the numbers of mobile phone subscribers and internet users have skyrocketed in the Arab World.<a name="_ftnref5" href="#_ftn5">[5]</a>

Youth: a global priority

- In 2009, through resolution 64/134, the General Assembly proclaimed the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.<a name="_ftnref6" href="#_ftn6">[6]</a>



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<a name="_ftn1" href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> http://social.un.org/youthyear/docs/youth-employment.pdf

<a name="_ftn2" href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> Ibid.

<a name="_ftn3" href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a>UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2009. Published in: Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), The World’s Women 2010, Trends and Statistics, Chapter 3: Education, Copyright © United Nations, 2010, New York. Available in: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color.pdf)

<a name="_ftn4" href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat (DESA), The Millennium Development Goals Report 2011, New York, 2011. Available in: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/11_MDG%20Report_EN.pdf

<a name="_ftn5" href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a> UNDP, Arab Human Development Report 2009: http://www.arab-hdr.org/contents/index.aspx?rid=5

<a name="_ftn6" href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a> Ibid.

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