The Commonwealth Local Government Young People’s Forum (CLGYPF) took place on 13-14 May 2013 at the Munyonyo Conference Centre, Kampala, Uganda in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Local Governments Conference (CLGC) .
The youth forum brought together young professionals, elected councillors and other key stakeholders working with local government across the Commonwealth to examine what local development means to young people, how young people can promote and participate in development with local governments, and what the youth feel should follow the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.
Participants from the forum as well attended the CLGC immediately following the youth forum. At the CLGC, UN-Habitat co-sponsored with the CLGC theWomen and Youth Advocate for their Engagement in Local Government Session. This Session recognized that women and youth continue to be under-represented in all decision making bodies, be it at the local, national or international level. The session sought to unearth new innovations in local government by bringing together young such as Councillor Janaka Nishantha, Municipal Council, Bandarawela, Sri Lanka, who was first elected 6 years ago at the age of 19 and is a strong women and youth rights advocate, and Ms. Vanda P. Rahima, Chief Councilllor, North Andros District, Bahamas.
“In The Bahamas youth involvement in local government is viewed as critical to the continuance and development of local government process and strengthening of our democracy.”, stated Chief Councillor Rahima, “Youth involvement in local government is the avenue through which they are engaged and their investment, influence and commitment as leaders of the future are assured.”
Also presenting at the forum were civil society representatives such as Stella Agara, Deputy Director of the African Youth Trust and UN Habitat Youth Advisory Board member, who spoke out strongly for the engagement of youth and women in local government.
“Building relationships is key in making local government and youth engagement successful”, stated Agara, “An effort needs to be made to design youth engagement mechanisms within local authorities. There is [as well] the need for massive sensitization of the youth on the function of local government [so as] to restore their interest in the work of the local government.”
At the end of the forum, the participants produced a clear set of recommendations that were presented to the main conference. These included a call to local authorities across the commonwealth to create mechanisms for useful engagement of youth and the mainstreaming of youth issues in all of their work.