15.10.2009 -

Five young journalists turn a sharp eye on the UNESCO Youth Forum

Renata Summa, Swedish-Canadian journalist


This year for the first time five young journalists were recruited to cover the Youth Forum, a curtain-raiser for the General Conference, which gathers young people together to define and discuss the issues most important to them.

The forum’s theme was Investing out of the crisis: towards a partnership between UNESCO and youth organizations and the one journalist was selected from each of UNESCO’s five constituent regions by the Organization’s Youth, Sport and Physical Education section. They spent three days reporting on the conference internally and, in some cases, back to their home countries.

There all agreed on one thing – the Youth Forum is an innovative and necessary means to give young people a voice but that the follow-up of its recommendations is just as important. The newsletter U-TH produced by them was distributed in paper form during the forum and is now online. Below they sum up their thoughts on their role and the forum.

Karim Abour Merhi, 24, from Lebanon, is a reporter for An-Nahar newspaper in Beirut. He deals with stories on youth and education.

“There is definitely a feeling that for ten years the Youth Forum has had shortcomings mainly regarding the follow-up. This needs to improve so that so that not only a report comes out but the General Conference commits to it and that its recommendations are applied. We can no longer blame the youth for aiming too high.”

Siena Anstis, 21, a Swedish-Canadian, works as Regional Communications Officer for the Aga Khan Foundation in Nairobi.

“In the past the forum has had poor coverage so we are changing that. I see the forum as a very important part of the negotiating process in UNESCO. Our role is to disseminate information and ensure that youth have their views heard as there continues to be a gap between the conference and the forum. From the Canadian perspective we need education reform adapted to the economic crisis. As far as follow-up goes we really need a separate team to continue working on issues afterwards and tracking how recommendations are implemented. We should not look on this as an event but as a long-term vision.”

Renata Summa, 26, from Brazil has studied journalism and recently completed a Masters in International Relations in Paris.

“Coming from Brazil where violence is a problem, education for the prevention of violence is of particular interest to me and this is what I am looking for stories about. I have already written something about the murder of documentary film maker Christian Poveda last month in El Salvador which featured in the printed leaflet.”

Ndri N’guessan Enoh, 27, from Ivory Coast, is a youth journalist working for West Africa Democracy Radio.

“My first concern is that youth should be helped to cope with the worst consequences of the crisis. It is not going to end tomorrow so young people have to be helped not to become discouraged or drift towards violence and crimes. We have to fight to end the crisis. Part of my role in covering the conference is to make sure that its messages and recommendations are not forgotten after it is over. To that end I have launched my own blog which I hope will become a discussion forum for the topics raised during the event.”

Shuk-Wah Chung, 28, is an Australian freelance radio and print journalist based in China.

“I feel my role here is to give some exposure to what young people are doing around the world, how they are making a difference. I am an opinion-editorial feature writer and I am looking for stories about change, how a programme or a project has changed somebody’s life. The great thing about the forum is that young people are passionate about things and can make a radical difference.”

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