UNESCO Americas Youth Forum

Mexico City, Mexico, 9-15 September 2007

Format

The Americas Youth Forum lasted for 7 days from Sunday 9 September to Saturday 15 September 2007. There was workshops, plenary sessions and meetings. Each evening a cultural exchange program or informal discussion took place to allow the participants to get to know each other. 

Theme

The overall theme of the regional forums was ”Young People and the Dialogue among Civilizations, Cultures and Peoples: Ideas for action in education, the sciences, culture and communication”. Under this theme, the Youth Forum Report had recommended two sub-themes as specific foci of the regional youth forums: ”Education for sustainable development” and ”Intercultural and interfaith dialogue to ensure peace”.

Objectives

  • To allow youth delegates to elaborate specific themes and related recommendations for action in favour of dialogue by and for young people.
  • To consolidate and encourage networks and partnerships between young people, youth organizations, UNESCO and other partners concerned with youth and dialogue in the region.
  • To define concrete youth-led follow up projects and initiatives in the region, which shall be supported with seed funding through a Regional Youth Project Fund.

List of participating countries (36 countries)

  • South America (12)
    Argentina , Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).
  • Central America (7)
    Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
  • North America (3)
    Canada, Mexico, United States.
  • Caribbean countries (14)
    Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Netherlands Antilles, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago.

E-dialogue
Based on the recommendation adopted during the 4th UNESCO Youth Forum to promote “further interaction via a specific and permanent UNESCO Youth Forum website and discussion forum, where the youth can actively participate in debates and channel their input,” the organizers created a listserv where subscribers could post ideas and proposals about the content of the 1st Americas Youth Forum. We envisioned this as an e-space for youth dialogue, where young subscribers could exchange ideas and contribute to identifying the Forum’s agenda.

As our main concern was encouraging youth participation in defining the content of the Forum, we compiled a list of subscribers to the listserv, who reacted to pertinent questions and topics about the content of the forum. These questions and topics served to kick off the online discussion, with a new question being posted online each week. The consultation process for the determination of the Forum’s sub-themes has been operating for almost six weeks. The results from this online discussion with young subscribers were a major component of what shaped the content of the workshops and forum. The listserv remained open until the start of the Forum; this gave the delegates the opportunity to get to know each other before the Forum, and they were also able to continue their discussions and exchanges for as long as they wanted as the listserv could be maintained indefinitely. In providing a space for on-line interaction between the Forum’s participants, the listserv could ultimately prove to be a key tool in terms of the Forum’s follow-up: putting the delegates’ ideas and recommendations for practical action in the region into practice.

In order to assure a more pluralistic procedure and significant youth participation, in addition to involving the young delegates in this process, we also asked former Youth Forum participants, Youth NGOs, youth organizations, and networks in the Americas region to nominate young people as subscribers to the listserv. Furthermore, in order to keep all associated partners informed about this aspect of the planning process for the Forum, a summary of each week’s online discussions was sent to all organizations that have nominated a subscriber.

Forum Participants

  1. Delegates:
    Two youth delegates per participating country, one nominated by the National Commission for UNESCO and the other by the national youth council (or, in the absence of a national youth council, the most appropriate national youth structure).
  2. Facilitators: experts on the Forum’s sub-themes or on youth issues, to act as as facilitators in the working group sessions.
  3. Observers: representatives of youth NGOs and networks, national authorities, UNESCO National Commissions, Field Offices, to attend at their own expense.

Partners
The Forum was co-organised by the Section for Youth, Sport and Physical Education at UNESCO, the UNESCO Office Mexico and the Mexican National Commission for UNESCO, in cooperation with the State of Guerrero (Youth Secretary and Secretary for Rural Development) and the Mexican Institute of Youth, on behalf of the government of Mexico.

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