#YouthPolicyMatters: UNESCO commits to Global Initiative on Youth Policies

Following three days of thorough exchanges and debates, the 1st Global Forum on Youth Policies, held from 28 to 30 October 2014 in Baku, Azerbaijan, concluded with the launch of the Baku Commitment on Youth Policies. In the aftermath of the Forum, UNESCO has also committed to collaborate closely with co-conveners and all interested parties in order to operationalize a Global Initiative on Youth Policies and to provide national governments and youth stakeholders with a concrete mechanism and tool for policy advice and support.

Bringing together over 700 participants from 165 countries, with a strong participation of ministers responsible for youth, as well as experts, youth advocates, civil society representatives, United Nations representatives and international and regional organizations, to discuss youth policies through three different lenses (thematic, structural and region-specific), the Forum responded to the crucial importance of looking at youth policy work in a holistic and multi-stakeholder perspective.

Co-convened by the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth alongside UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Council of Europe, the 3-day Forum provided an unprecedented platform for these diverse stakeholders to take stock of progress made in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of youth policies at various levels since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth in 1995. It distilled lessons learned and good practices and identified remaining gaps and challenges, in particular within the context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The Baku Commitment highlights 8 guiding principles for integrated and inclusive youth policy development that will serve as a milestone in defining and exemplifying what is needed to advance youth policy development, in line with the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond. These principles represent a common understanding shaped through the Forum’s discussions which looked at key thematic areas, common denominators as well as regional frameworks and priorities of youth policies. The Baku Commitment also puts forward 10 concrete commitments made by the co-conveners of the Forum and open to all international, regional and national stakeholders interested in joining this global partnership on youth policies.

Among these, the most prominent is the launch of a Global Initiative on Youth Policies that will be providing technical support and assistance to many governments and countries that are in the process of developing national youth policies.

Moreover, the Forum pledged to further promote synergies between youth policies and broader development policies and frameworks, particularly in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, and to strengthen collaboration and partnerships in the field of public policies on youth to enable inclusive, and multi-stakeholder involvement in youth policies.

It has also called for increased youth civic engagement and meaningful participation in decision-making and political processes and institutions, including by promoting youth involvement; and by making specific efforts to promote young women’s participation.