Doing it with young people rather than for young people will be a catalyst change for change in the next development framework.
The High Level Panel on post 2015 Development Planning is submitting its report to the UN Secretary General in the end of May. The Panel agreed that its vision and responsibility should include a determination to “end poverty in all its forms” and to “have in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity for all”. They also felt there is strong interest in going beyond poverty reduction to include job-creating growth, protecting the environment and providing equity, peace, security, justice and freedom. The Panel agreed to develop a global agenda with global responsibilities. This vision is widely expected to be bold and ambitious. As the Panel prepares to submit its report, the challenge is to ensure that the report sets a framework for a transformative, universal, people-centered development while clearly outlining a bold and relevant commitments needed to ensure a new paradigm for sustainable development that is deeply grounded in sound economic, social, cultural, civil human rights obligations and easy to galvanize collective political action around.
Young people have been consulted during the High Level Panel meetings right from the very beginning. In London under the theme of Household Poverty, young people said poverty cannot go away without their meaningful involvement. In Liberia under the theme of National Building Blocks for Sustained Prosperity, young people urged the panel to put youth at the center of economic transformation and social equity. And in the last meeting in Bali under the theme of Global Partnership and Means of Implementation, we called on all stakeholders to ensure that partnership with young people through actively engaging them in planning, implementation and monitoring development are at the heart of the post 2015. The logic of these outreach meetings is that any effort to eradicate individual and household poverty must be supported by sound national policies and strengthened by global partnership. This is a true at the level of rhetoric. Action is what we want now! Ending poverty among young people will entail some increasing of their income and reducing their expenditure. Increasing income will mean active and dignified insertion of youth in the work ensuring them a good wage and decent jobs. Reducing expenditure will mean basic social services like health, education; water and housing are accessible, of quality and affordable.
The forth High Level Panel meeting offered to provide a united youth perspective on framing a new global partnership development, identifying thematic priorities for goals, defining means of implementation and a framework for monitoring progress. Principles that must underpin a strong global partnership are youth empowerment, human rights, evidence, equality, transparency, sustainability, inclusiveness, redistributive justice within clearly outlined roles and responsibilities.
A successful development agenda is only possible through partnership between young people and countries, various stakeholders, business sector, civil society, and the academia. Stakeholders need to listen, analyze and act on the aspiration and wisdom of young people. This partnership should be reflected in every stage of development. Such partnership would imply a mechanism to make sure that resources are obtained, developed and used at best, and for their intended purposes. Against this particular backdrop, accountability, participatory and transparency mechanisms should guide implementation of development. This will only be possible if young people can play an active role in the design, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the new framework. Young people’s legitimacy of participation will depend on access to resources like land and finance, access to information and acquisition of technical skills. Capacity building, reciprocal transfer of knowledge, writing new rules of the game, gathering new evidence are critical enablers to effective youth participation. Stakeholders should commit to provide sustainable and innovative finance which is sufficient to youth centric programmes.
Young people can effectively monitor developments and accountability leveraging ability to access and share information, connect and mobilize using modern communication tools. We are in a better position to develop indicators and programmes to monitor commitments for accountability and design tools for data collation, aggregation, synthesis and analysis.
In the post 2015, we want to see transparent and accountable governance, effective justice systems, universal access to quality and relevant education that goes beyond primary school, universal access to water and sanitation for all, universal access to quality and affordable healthcare, decent employment and access to economic opportunities, environmental sustainability, sustainable transportation, gender equality and equity, cultural harmony, agricultural and nutritional security, and elimination of discrimination in all its forms.
The process has to also address the urbanization and climate change gap. In the face of rapid urbanization and in light of the fact that cities are youthful, the post 2015 agenda has induce some critical game changers to make cities work for young people. Collection of policies, laws and decisions and practices that govern the management and development of the urban environment should be priority for sustainable urban development. Policies, plans and designs should be improved at city, regional and national levels for more compact, socially inclusive and better integrated cities that are resilient to climate change. Urban economic and financial development has to be promoted so that cities can reduce poverty, be more productive, provide better and affordable housing and community based initiatives. It is important to note that millions of people around the world still lack access to clean drinking water, basic sanitation, and modern forms of energy, sustainable mobility and proper waste management. The state of these basic services, with 783 million people not having access to improved source of drinking water and 60 per cent of the households practicing open defecation in the poorest rural quintile in sub-Saharan Africa, can be best described as scandalous. Mobility should be sustainable in the next developmental regime and should not endanger public health or ecosystems. Transportation should meet the needs of access consistent with use of renewable resources below their rates of regeneration and use of non-renewable resources below the rates of development of renewable substitutes. Most importantly, factors of production should be brought closer to young people and spontaneous urbanization predicted and contained.
The post 2015 development planning has to deliver tangible results at outcome level to the ordinary man and woman. It should bring difference to the flood victim in Pakistan, the conflict victim in Afghanistan, the victim of political fragility in Mali, the tsunami victim in Japan, the internally displaced person in Kenya, the disaster victim in Haiti, the victim of financial recession in Greece, the victim of failed state in Somali, the terror victim in USA These are the people who understand the language of lack. And it is the mandate of the process to end world poverty in a people driven manner. Young people and children are the most affected by these catastrophic events; with less coping mechanisms and less resilience to adapt.
Young people have been consulted very broadly for the future that they want. From national consultations to regional consultations, from online consultations to even exciting mobile platform consultations, from the capitalist Americas to the diverse Asia, from the secular Europe to the tribal Africa young people have spoken!
Our vision can best be summed up as a world that values diversity, environmental sustainability and active participation by all citizens. A world that operates an economic system based on fairness and equality, where everyone has access to basic services such as health education and water and where the standards of those services are high no matter what people’s background or economic situation. No young person in this world would feel excluded, marginalized or discriminated against is such a world.
Build us so that we can build this world!
Willice Okoth Onyango
Chair, IYC Kenya
>>> Chairperson ,The International Youth Council Kenya
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