Youth and policy makers design COVID-19 recovery solutions together

Young people from every region of the world and policy-makers will start a dialogue on concrete recovery efforts in response to COVID-19 around youth well-being, rights, learning, youth-led action and role of technology. This will happen on 25 March 2022 at a hybrid high-level policy conference of the Youth as Researchers (YAR) on COVID-19 global initiative, co-convened by the UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Programme and UNESCO Chairs at the National University of Ireland (Galway) and the Pennsylvania State University.
YAR High-Level Policy Conference - Impact of COVID-19 on Youth

In their findings, the young researchers found that over 50% of students around the world who were surveyed reported that the quality of their learning declined considerably; nearly 20% of youth surveyed on wellbeing rated their mental health as poor, a more than six-fold rise from 3.1% before the pandemic; and almost 75% of youth responding on cybersecurity felt they had been exposed to misinformation, but only 4.2% believe that they were always able to identify fake news.

Focusing on these data, the Conference will provide space for policy-makers and young researchers from around the globe to meet, both virtually and in person. Online participants will follow UNESCO’s livestream, where 60+ young representatives of the initiative and over 20 policy-makers will join UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Gabriela Ramos, to create actionable solutions to the initiative’s findings and recommendations. Among others, these will include engaging with young people to design, implement and monitor an equitable hybrid educational model; encouraging public-private partnerships and youth inclusion in policymaking; and establishing legal and institutional frameworks to ensure safe and low-cost access to digital tools.

The objective will be to offer a set of specific and concrete youth-oriented actions to government representatives. Following the conference, a Global Coalition of Actors to adapt policies, build capacities, generate knowledge and support youth-led solutions, will be launched, notably through a Global Grant Scheme. This grant will fund youth-led research and youth-led actions for positive social impact.

I was appalled by the magnitude of the crisis, but when I see the scale of the contributions young people can make to address these challenges, I'm confident that we will deliver.
Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO

Largest Global Youth-led Research Initiative

The Youth As Researchers initiative, launched in 2020, is the largest youth-led capacity building project in response to COVID-19 in the world. For the past 18 months, it has engaged 270 young people – from over 70 countries – as youth researchers, and 10,000 in efforts to support 34 global, regional and national research teams. In Brazil, Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan and Vietnam national teams were even created. The participants in the initiative believe that through research, youth can become change-makers.

The methodology of the initiative trains them to design and conduct research that can inform policymaking and programme design. The young volunteers want to be part of research teams that work closely with wider society and have a solution-based approach. Young people have a voice to share and want to be a part of the changes impacting their communities.