Youth 21: Building for Change

A report by David Woolcombe, President of Peace Child on the March 15-18th UNDP / UN-HABITAT meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. Mr. Woolcombe provides a summary of the meeting outcomes and how it relates to the youth agenda.

This meeting happened at what is possibly the most hopeful moment for Youth the UN has ever seen: in his January 25th presentation of his 5-year plan for the UN, the Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, outlined a heart-stoppingly ambitious Youth agenda. He said:

 “We need to pull the UN system together, like never before, to support a new social contract of job-rich economic growth. Let us start with young people. Today we have the largest generation of young people the world has ever known. They are demanding their rights and a greater voice in economic and political life. We will do all we can to meet their needs and create opportunities. We will deepen our youth focus and develop an action plan across the full range of UN programmes, including employment, entrepreneurship, political participation, human rights, education and reproductive health. And I will appoint a new Special Representative for youth to develop and implement our agenda and spearhead a UN youth volunteers programme.”

Many of us had been campaigning for this kind of statement for decades. It was a complete surprise, and had many of us punching the air with delight! The excellent Youth 21 document, prepared by UN-HABITAT with input from UNFPA and other UN agencies, (download at: had been discussed at a small meeting in Oslo in December 2011. The document identified three scenarios for the UN work for youth:

  • Scenario 1: Scale up the UN DESA ‘UN Programme for Youth’ to an Institutional Level
  • Scenario 2: Establish a Special Representative of the Secretary General on Youth
  • Scenario 3: Establish a Permanent Forum on Youth, inclusive of a Youth Platform Assembly and a Special Representative on Youth;

To read the full report click here.


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