At UN-backed forum, countries pledge to develop, implement youth policies

The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi launches the “Baku Commitment to Youth Policies” on behalf of all the co-conveners of the First Global Forum on Youth Policies, held in Azerbaijan from 28-30 October 2014. Photo: Youth Policy Forum

30 October 2014 – The United Nations-backed Global Forum on Youth Policies, which brought together over 700 participants from over 165 countries, concluded in Azerbaijan today with the launch of an outcome document pledging to support countries that are in the process of developing and “elevating” national youth policy.

“I am happy to say that we will be launching 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,” said the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi, as the Forum wrapped up its work.

The Baku Commitment on Youth Policies agreed to by participants and co-conveners, highlights the principles to guide formulation, implementation and evaluation of youth policy in the 21 century. It calls for greater youth involvement in youth policy monitoring and evaluation.

As of October 2014, 127 countries have an adopted national youth policy, up from 99 in 2013. This leap symbolizes that governments are increasingly aware of the increasing power that young people have to impact change. Sustainable human development is directly related to the well-being of young people.

Since Monday, youth Ministers, experts, advocates, civil society, and representatives of the United Nations, as well as other international and regional bodies, participated in panel events, bilateral discussions and informal meetings on how to reinvigorate commitment to a global youth policy framework.

“Now it is time to make concrete commitments, not only declarations,” said Mr. Alhendawi, whose office co-convened the 3-day Forum which provided an unprecedented platform to take stock of progress made in youth policies at various levels since adoption of the World Programme of Action on Youth.

In 1995, UN Member States adopted the World Programme of Action, providing for the first time a global blueprint for national action to improve the lives of young people around the world.

Committed to reinvigorating that document, the Baku Commitment aims to ensure that youth policies are rights-based, inclusive, gender-responsive, knowledge-based, fully resources, as well as accountable. The Global Forum spotlighted the need to include youth in every aspect of policy from the grassroots level to parliament halls.

“There has been a lot of progress made here in Baku over the past three days,” Mr. Alhendawi said.

“We have seen young Africans come together to establish a network for researchers on youth policies. We have seen countries pledging support and commitment and resources to support the global initiative on youth policies. I’ve seen people debating issues around youth policies.”

Today’s Baku Commitment seeks to further promote and support implementation of the 1995 World Programme of Action against the backdrop of celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“We have witnessed a great energy here in this Forum and I am pleased with the outcomes of this document and the significant progress in elevating youth issues,” said Mr. Alhendawi, adding that he was looking forward to a process that supports youth policy beyond the Forum.

The Baku Commitment pledges to further promote synergies between youth policies and broader development policies and frameworks, particularly in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, currently being crafted by UN Member States to succeed the landmark Millennium Development Goals, which wrap up next year.

In addition, participants committted to strenghtening collaboration and partnerships in the field of public policies on youth. Designing and implementing processes and fostering partnerships that enable inclusive, and multi-stakeholder involvement in youth policies is also critical.

The Baku Committmemt 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 as well.

The Global Forum was co-organized by the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and, the Council of Europe. It was hosted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Azerbaijan.

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