Youth: Active Partners

The 7th Youth Forum showcased how youth can drive social change towards peace and social cohesion. As young people shape their human and social capital during the crucial transitions they undergo, they question stagnating ideas and perceptions.

Often, young women and men are driven by a need for change; a change that would reshape the political and socio-economic situation in their countries or communities. Their reaction is triggered by the feeling that they are neither being heard, nor consulted or that they are not included in designing effective responses.

Through their action, youth have proven that they want to be considered as active partners in society and that they can be recognized as problem-solvers. Through concrete examples, the Forum examined the ways in which youth constructively contribute to building a culture of peace, supporting good governance and promoting economic opportunity:

  • through their participation in governance or in public affairs; through volunteerism and social entrepreneurship, which strengthen their employability skills and generate benefits for the entire community;
  • through a responsible use of the internet to network, learn, share information and involve and sensitize different groups.

The unifying thread across all these actions is the recognition of the importance of democracy for youth.

The Forum also studied the challenges facing youth that impede upon their capacity to contribute to their societies: unemployment, gender inequality, lack of access to education, marginalization, poverty, discrimination and limited or no involvement in public affairs. It examined how these challenges, if not properly addressed, can lead to at risk behaviors, namely violence. It advocated the value of supporting youth development and constructive engagement as a way to prevent violence.

A final Report drafted by youth participants containing key recommendations on the themes will be presented to the 36th UNESCO General Conference by representatives selected from amongst the Forum participants.

Youth organizations, international and national NGOs, and UN agencies were invited to attend.

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