(Baku, 30 October) Baku – Be, Act, Know, Unite – is the new formula in youth policy. The First Global Forum on Youth Policies, held in Azerbaijan from 28-30 October, concluded now with the Baku Commitment on Youth Policies.
The Forum was organized by the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNESCO, the Council of Europe and hosted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Azerbaijan. It brought together 700 participants from 165 countries. The governments officials, youth representatives, researchers and civil society members discussed the development and implementation of youth policies in various countries, tackling the most common challenges as well as sharing best practices and formulating concrete recommendations. The results of their panel discussions, workshops and informal meetings led to the Baku Commitments.
“I am happy to say that we will be launching a global initiative on youth policies that will be providing technical support and assistance to many governments and countries that are in the process of developing national youth policies,” said the UN Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi.
The Baku Commitment calls for increased youth civic engagement and meaningful participation of youth in decision-making and political processes at all levels, with a special focus on women’s involvement. It outlines ways of formulating and implementing youth policies, as well as measuring the impact, and calls for youth policies to be rights-based, inclusive, participatory, gender-responsive, comprehensive, knowledge-based and evidence-informed, fully resourced and accountable.
The Forum was convened in the context of commemorating 20 years of the World Programme of Action on Youth and within the framework of formulating the Post-2015-Agenda. As of 2014, 122 countries out of 198 (62%) have a national youth policy, up from 99 (50%) in 2013. These numbers show that governments are increasingly aware of the need for legal and policy frameworks that respond adequately to young peoples’ needs, aspirations and demands.
However, the persistent problem of its fragmented efficiency and implementation in many countries, ranging from lack of knowledge and resources to the absence of a political will, has been addressed in Baku.
The youth representatives hope for the commitments to be fulfilled. “We are tired of being told we were the future, because we are the present,” said First Global Forum on Youth Policies at the Forum’s Closing Ceremony. On behalf of the 200 Youth Delegates, she called upon governments to “stop talking and start acting”.