Young People as Partners – We’re not just saying it

This 15th-16th April 2014, saw the first high-level meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development (what?!) and the overall consensus post conference seems to be: great talk, time for action.

As a Youth Delegation, we hoped that by joining key decision makers and influencers from around the world, we would demonstrate the importance of including young people as partners in effective development and that we would open up communication between those attending and those watching around the world.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

And we certainly had some successes. Many of the conference delegates commented on the overall youth presence that was felt at the conference. Whether it was from listening to some of the young speakers in the panel sessions or seeing images from young people around the world projected in the main entrance, our mantra “half the world’s under 25” was heard.  My main concern is that they’re not taking us seriously, and truly seeing the value that young people bring.

Our team of seven had worked hard in the lead-up to the conference collecting voices and inputs from around the world on the themes being talked about at the meeting. With over 400 following our Facebook page, we provided a platform for an active community to share and get involved with discussions surrounding the GPEDC. We then brought this to the conference delegates via the voice wall, at our marketplace stand and in the 3 speaking opportunities we were allocated.

voice wall1


We had a number of meetings and the most meaningful by far was the half an hour spent with David Hallam, UK Envoy on Post-2015 Development Goals for DFID, discussing how young people should be considered across the board in the development of the Post-2015 agenda. While there were many photo opportunities, there was a call after the first day for this not to be tokenistic and come day two, we were back and ready to push the initiatives and actions already being taken by youth from all over the world to further the effective development progress.

hallam tweet

For example, Benjamin Mwape was speaking in the South-South Cooperation focus session and talked about the policy sharing that had he had recently been involved with between Zambia, Ghana and South Africa on comprehensive youth development plans. Karma Yonten, a young entrepreneur with a successful small enterprise from Bhutan, spoke in the private sector plenary session of the difficulties he came up against when initially trying to secure loans to start his waste management company Greener Way and called for the decision makers present to make this process more accessible to young people in order to encourage entrepreneurship.

karma speak

There were definite frustrations surrounding the two days. We’d hoped to be able to make more use of the comments and question sections at the end of the panels, however those slots had all been pre-assigned and there wasn’t much room for challenges from the floor. Never mind, no space to talk? We’ll make it.

As a team, we feel it is a huge achievement that there are now two paragraphs in the annex of the communique calling on all GPEDC stakeholders to take an active role in supporting youth-led, data-driven accountability and governance (something that is already being set in motion through the Big Idea).


We’re pushing for, and believe in, young people being active partners in effective development. In fact, I’m going to out there and say: in order to achieve effective development, young people NEED to be active partners. Half the world’s population is under 25! The progress everyone was getting together to discuss is going to be lived by the next generation and that generation needs to be on board to believe in it and make that progress real.

We are calling for the new co-chairs to establish young people as a major stakeholder in the GPEDC partnership. They can make this a reality by putting young people on the steering committee and pushing the delegates to deliver on the commitments they made at the conference.

voice wall2

“I will always invite a youth representative to future panel discussions” – Anders Nordstrom, Ambassador for Global Health at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Young people are often stereotyped as being unprofessional and disengaged. Well, we’re at the table. We’re bringing ideas, actions and already putting initiatives in place. Who’s going to join us?


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