I was to represent Pravah and the youth of my nation at the Youth Multi-stakeholders Meeting on Post 2015 on 24-25 March, 2013 in Bali! Excitement, gratitude and a deep sense of responsibility – all of these crowded my mind as I got ready to be a part of a global platform to represent voices of Indian youth.
This Youth Meeting was a culmination of multiple national consultations (held in more than 70 countries) on eleven themes, including conflict and fragility; education; environmental sustainability; governance; growth and employment; health; hunger, food and nutrition; inequalities; population dynamics; energy; and water. As 2015 approaches, the United Nations has initiated this participatory process to set up a development agenda post 2015. It was time to ring out the old Millennium Development Goals (set of eight International development goals) established in 2000 following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations and adopted by 189 member states and ring in the new!
In India, Pravah was one of the members of the National Convening Committee for the thematic group representing youth. The other themes included civil society organization, industry, trade union, farmers’ association, women’s association and research institutes.
As I left India, I carried with me youth voices resonating three things loud and clear –
- The youth need to be looked at as a separate tract, at a global as well as national level
- Youth should be seen as partners and equal stakeholder and decision makers
- There is a need to create an enabling environment to help each young person to be empowered and be a change agent.
On my first day (24th March) I was part of the youth consultation where 100 young participants from 26 countries representing 72 organizations discussed social issues that mattered to them and developed consensus on how young people can contribute to the process of development globally. The discussions along with recommendations on the emerging issues, global partnerships and means of implementation for post 2015 agenda were presented to members of High-level panel (HLPEP) and other influential people from international development organizations on the second day. The second day also brought stakeholders from other consultations together and everyone got to hear the recommendations coming out of the different consultations (thematic and regional) along with opinions of HLPEP.
Universal access to quality, relevant education that extends beyond primary schooling; universal access to affordable, quality healthcare; accountable governance; employment and access to economic opportunities; gender equality and equity and environmental sustainability emerged as key themes of the youth delegate meeting. The groups also presented their ideas on global partnerships with CSOs, youth, government and private sector. Some of the core suggestions were:
- Capacity building of youth to ensure meaningful youth participation in Civil Society Organizations Ensuring that adolescent, children and marginalized youth are integrated in the youth development agenda
- Challenging the current notion of governmental relations with youth vis-a-vis top down approach
- Ensuring that the private sector invests in young people’s education, promotes entrepreneurship and ensures their safety and growth at work place.
As a part of the education thematic group and the global partnerships group, I emphasized the need to bring in the youth development perspective and see young people as a group with separate needs and aspirations. I was lucky to be nominated by my group to also present before members of the high level panel and other senior delegates on the second day.
It felt great to be part of a process that was looking at young people as partners in setting a development agenda and not just as executers of an agenda set by elders. Sung Hwan Kim, a panelist said ‘As panelists, we will make sure that youth can be part of decision making process for the post 2015 agenda.’
The Youth Multi-stakeholders Meeting on Post 2015 was a great platform to share ideas, thoughts and concerns with people from around the world and feel connected to a global community of development workers/ social activists. It felt great to see how a complex process of consultations across the globe was contributing towards a common development agenda. One of the gifts of this exposure was understanding the importance of a consultative process that was explained aptly by one of the HLPEP members in his speech (stating that very similar issues are coming out of all consultations in different regions) ‘Enough has been said but not all have said it.’
Ensuring participation of diverse people involves a lot of effort. Yet, it is critical as it is the people and not just the outcomes that matter – each one has the right to be included. I realized that participation is not necessarily a means to build content for the discussion, its impact lies in developing the ownership towards the process and the theme. The energy and connection I experienced being a part of the process strengthened my faith in inclusive processes for quality outcomes and building community ownership. I have come back to India feeling this connect and, of course, forging many friendships across the globe!
~ Shraddha Rawat