The Envoy’s Workplan: Vision Statement
Currently our world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 to 24, the largest generation of young people in its history. Close to 90 per cent of this youth population live in developing countries. What is more, their numbers are expected to continue to grow, especially in the least developed regions. With such numbers, it is clear that sustainable development and peace cannot be achieved unless we involve young people and create the conditions that allow them to reach and unleash their full potential.
But in reality a lot remains to be done to ensure young people can reach their full potential. Some 600 million young people live in conflict or fragile situations, 71 million young people are unemployed and about 264 million children and youth are out of school, many young people lack access to adequate health services, including those related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and opportunities for meaningful engagement in decision-making processes that affect their lives.
At the same time, with advancements of technology today’s younger generation holds the title for being the largest generation ever, as well as for being the most connected generation. This makes them more aware than prior generations of the rapidly changing world they are growing up in: a world marked by large inequalities between and within countries, a world with a longer life expectancy, as well as increasingly insecure labour markets and a rapidly changing future of work, a world in which one can have easy access to information in the blink of a second, but also a world increasingly saturated by misinformation and false news, at a time where people’s – especially young people’s – attention-span have been shown to decrease.
Against this backdrop, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth adopts two main approaches in her work:
- Advocate for the empowerment and meaningful participation of young people, especially the most marginalized and vulnerable youth;
- Recognize the positive contributions made by young people to advance sustainable development, peace building and upholding human rights and facilitate the maximization of the impact of those contributions.
Building off of the Secretary General’s vision on young people, as outlined during the Chief Executives’ Board held in November and Executive Committee Retreat in December the Envoy will focus the work of her office on three main pillars:
1. Increasing youth participation in the Inter-Governmental Space
- The Envoy will work closely with member states to bring youth voices to the inter-governmental negotiations and UN official processes, including but not limited to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Fora, Functional Commissions, the Human Rights Council, the Security Council, the President of the General Assembly’s High-Level Events, the Compacts on Migration, and on Refugees, the Secretary General’s Climate Summit, etc. The Envoy will work with the member states and the Executive Office of the Secretary General to convene a regular gathering of Ministers Responsible for youth.
- The Envoy will work with the President of the ECOSOC and relevant stakeholders to further strengthen the ECOSOC youth forum.
- The Envoy with the support of member states and relevant stakeholders will convene a Second Global Forum on Youth Policies.
2. Realizing the potential of the young people within the UN system
- The Envoy will work with the Department of Management and the Executive Office of the Secretary General to adopt new strategies to realize the full potential of young people working for the UN.
3. Engagement and mobilization of young people
- The Envoy’s engagement with and for young people is conceptualized across three pillars of UN’s work – Peace and Security, Human Rights and Sustainable Development, as well as Humanitarian action.
- Meaningful engagement is expected to be achieved through advocacy, participation, partnerships and coordination.
Detailed goals and actions on the engagement pillar are enclosed below as Annex I.
Substantially reshaping how the United Nations engages young people is an imperative, as the United Nations embark – under the leadership of the Secretary-General – on a series of reforms that should profoundly transform its work and modes of operation in order to build an organization that is relevant to and in touch with those it serves. In line with the Secretary General’s proposals for reforms, at the end of her term, the Youth Envoy envisions a United Nations that:
- Is youth friendly;
- Regularly convenes and consults youth organizations – especially those representing and consisting of the most marginalized – and considers their inputs in a meaningful way;
- Meets young people where they are – stronger country focus on youth;
- Acknowledges and fully embraces youth development as a key component of Sustainable Development;
- Recognizes young people as partners, not just beneficiaries – at all levels;
- Recognizes and promote youth leadership within and outside the organization.