From 28 to 30 October 2014, the first Global Forum on Youth Policies is organized with the aim of advancing the debate on youth policy development and its full and effective implementation at all levels. Hosted in Baku, Azerbaijan, by the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Azerbaijan, the Forum is co-convened by the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Council of Europe, with the support of ‘Youthpolicy.org’.
“… as of April 2014, of 198 countries, 122 countries (62%) have a national youth policy, up from 99 (50%) in 2013. Across all continents, 37 states (19%) are either developing a new or revising their current youth policy, down from 56 (28%) in 2013. 31 countries have no national youth policy at the moment (16%), down from 43 (22%) in 2013. Of those, 14 are in Africa, 9 in Asia, 5 in the Americas, and 3 in Europe.” *
These numbers show that governments are increasingly aware of the need for legal and policy frameworks that respond adequately to young peoples’ needs, aspirations and demands. Despite these advances, a number of challenges still affect both the efficiency and inclusiveness of youth policies.
The Forum builds on the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (WPAY) and will bring together 700 participants, including representatives from governments, academia, youth organizations, civil society, the UN system and multilateral organizations.
The role of a National Policy on Youth is crucial in that it provides the overarching vision for all programs and activities relating to youth in one country. The 15 priority areas of the WPAY indicate the range of policy areas to be covered: Education; Employment; Hunger and Poverty; Health; Environment; Drug abuse; Juvenile delinquency; Leisure-time activities; Girls and young women; Full and effective participation of youth in the life of society and in decision making; Globalization; Information and communications technology; HIV/AIDS; Armed conflict; and Intergenerational Issues.
From this perspective, participants will discuss youth policies through three different lenses − thematic, structural and region-specific − responding to the necessity for a holistic and multi-stakeholder perspective in this field of work. The Global Forum, an unprecedented platform for all these stakeholders, will allow taking stock of progress made in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of youth policies at various levels. Participants will look also at lessons learned and good practices, and identify remaining gaps and challenges to be addressed in moving forward.
Fully aligned with UNESCO’s Operational Strategy on Youth and with the Organization’s input to the UN System-wide Action Plan on Youth, the Forum will forge a common understanding of key guiding principles for integrated and inclusive youth policy development that will serve as a milestone in defining what is needed to take youth policies seriously and advance the implementation of policies with and for youth. The Global Forum also links to the recommendations of the 8th UNESCO Youth Forum, where youth participants had raised the importance of developing inclusive policies, and ensuring youth participation in youth policy development.
In the follow-up to the Forum, UNESCO will continue working, in collaboration with global and regional partners, to assist national governments in applying those principles when developing or reviewing their national youth policies, with the participation of young women and men. The results of the Forum will also inform the preparation of the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum and other related youth initiatives in which UNESCO is involved.