Youth engagement for global action: Celebrating International Youth Day 2020

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Youth engagement for global action: Celebrating International Youth Day 2020

August 12th, 2020

Celebrations for International Youth Day (IYD) 2020 on 12 August may have gone virtual, but young people are still the big stars. IYD 2020 comes in the shape of a virtual podcast discussion, delivered from youth to youth, alongside creative artists. 

Nowadays, there are more young people as a proportion of the population than ever before, bringing an excellent opportunity for youth to push global growth and innovation. The theme of this year’s IYD reflects that: Youth Engagement for Global Action. What is more, youth engagement in politics reduces democratic deficits, rebuilds crucial trust in public institutions – which is especially important as we respond to COVID-19 – and generates better and fairer policies. 

Across the globe, young people are effectively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a critical social, political, and economic impact worldwide. Although young people are a particularly vulnerable group, especially in terms of employment, they are delivering innovation, volunteering assistance, and public health promotion. Youth-driven innovation hubs worldwide are thoughtfully helping start-ups redirect their activities towards technological responses to the pandemic, which is increasingly demanding technology-adapting capabilities. Plus, in line with the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), governments are required to align young people’s needs with their services. 

Nevertheless, youth engagement in decision-making processes and young people’s representation has a long way to go in many countries. This year, IYD emphasises engagement in three fields: local/community, national, and globallevel decision making.  

WFD works to bolster young people’s political leadership through supporting parliamentary youth caucuses, youth-focused civil society organisations and forums, youth manifestos and electoral debates, and mobilization attempts targeting young voters.

In East Africa, where youth represent around 70% of the population , WFD supported the East African Commonwealth Youth Leaders Initiative as they mobilized in support of the ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG). Youth leaders have actively lobbied and asked the Depute Speaker of Parliament and the Leader of Opposition (LOP) to quicken the ratification of the charter. 

In North Macedonia, WFD has developed a series of online workshops for young students during lockdown.

WFD Nigeria supported the creation of a network of Young Persons in Politics with Values to monitor and evaluate the activities of members of Young Parliamentarian Forum (YPF) in the National Assembly, as well as advocate for increased space for young persons in politics. 

Meanwhile in Lebanon,  WFD held training workshops in oil and gas governance for young people to help Lebanon to deliver a democratic governance and responsible production of oil and gas.

By listening to young people’s concerns and ideas, the world can achieve a turnaround in this vulnerable situation in which we are living. Through actively supporting, enabling and encouraging young people’s engagement in politics, and guiding them to acquire knowledge and skills, we can build stronger democracies. Youth empowerment and decision-making capacity are fundamental to tackle latent challenges like disinformation or to build trustworthy governments and politics in an uncertain world that the COVID-19 pandemic is leaving. 

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