During the 13-15h June, Restless Development sent two youth delegates to the Global Youth Forum 2016 in Washington D.C, USA. Nora Nyirenda from Zambia and Rafaella Galdeono from the UK attended the Forum, hosted by the World Bank Group and it’s Global Partnership for Youth in Development, to ensure that young people had a voice in these big discussions. Here, Nora who is a former staff member in our Zambia office, shares with us her thoughts and feelings following the Forum.

After landing in Washington DC and excited to be part of the World Bank Global Youth Forum on Civic participation, I was looking forward to knowing how the partnership was going to be implemented, undertaken and what role young will play in the whole process. How will young people be included in realising the 2030 agenda, considering there is no independent goal specifically on Youth?

The forum was focused around group discussions, presentations and participatory sessions on Agenda 2030, and how the World Bank was looking forward to creating a partnership with young men and women at a global level. Personally, I was looking forward to sharing and learning on a global platform on how young people are engaging in spaces for civic participation. My primary role at the Forum was to showcase how Restless Development are directly implementing civic programs, shaping policy and creating a generation of leaders.

In all this, I believe young people are the key to realising the 2030 agenda. We are identifying the needs at the grassroots level, consulting and directly implementing activities to push the agenda forward and evaluating the process to ensure future learning and progression. Young people provide the voice and drive for the changes we desire and need in society, and I am proud to be part of the process.

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Attendees at the World Bank’s Global Youth Forum.

The forum emphasised an understanding of the role of youth in global development across all sectors ranging from business and entrepreneurs, to civic society members and sexual reproductive health rights groups, tasked with trying to develop a partnership where young people are working together with their governments to boost the prosperity of youth engagement in development. Taking into account the awareness and the impact of many other young people and areas of experience to channel that energy to end poverty and achieve the Global Goals.

Young people as change agents are being brought into the partnership with the World Bank to help shape their policies. Discussions around the role that young people will play in economic development, with technology that offers unprecedented opportunities, were some of the key highlights of the forum.

Some of the lessons learnt from the forum were:

  • Emphasis was placed on the need to provide young people with platforms to share ideas and creative projects that allow them to feel a belonging in society. In addition, providing solutions to the financial challenges they face that are contextual to the communities and backgrounds would help this feeling of belonging.
  • This is the beginning of a partnership, so how do the rest of the young people involved in leading development get to be part of the Bank’s whole vision for the partnership?
  • The development of the SDG Mapper is an App that has been developed for individuals and organizations to track the SDGs and it implementation at individual level and organization and can be downloaded at the World Bank official website. This has huge potential as was one of the big talking points that came up during Restless Development’s global cafe on Youth Power.
  • There is a need for young people to speak with one voice and stand as ONE, to continue advocating and developing social contracts with their governments especially those that have access to social and print media as they also represent those that are in the rural areas.
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Nora, one of our two youth delegates, speaking at a session on Youth unemployment.

The World Bank and the Global Partnership have big questions to answer following this Forum. Will this be one of those conferences where different organizations gather and share experience and go back to their respective countries and continue with their work? Or will this one of a kind where a follow up scheme has been developed to monitor the new strategies for the partnership and the implementation of the ideas developed?

We will have to wait and see how the partnership will be rolled out in the future as one of the big weaknesses of the forum was the luck of a clear understanding of how this partnership will work out. Who in particular will be involved in any alliance formed to drive this partnership, and if so, will any of those be young women and men and what role will they have to play? These are some of the questions that remained unanswered and were suggested that they be posted with the hashtag #YouthInDev for further networking.

Personally the forum provided new insights on how we as young people need to link, mentor and bring together ideas that will change our communities for a better future for the next generation. What I realised is that change begins with small ideas that incubate and grow for a period of time, then with right tools, partnerships and networks, everything imagined is Possible!!!

What do you think?

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