Human development is about everyone’s future. But no one should have a greater interest in that future than the world’s young people because the future will shape so much more of their lives than older age groups. And yet, in most countries, young people have little say in the decisions that will determine their future. Lasting, sustainable change can only be achieved in a coalition between the young and the old.
Recent years have seen several initiatives to give youth greater influence in development planning. National human development reports, focusing on the needs and wants of young people, have been written in countries including Mongolia, Somalia and Turkey. These reports continue to have an impact. In Turkey for example some 3,000 youth took part in a survey, and twenty-eight focus groups were organized while the report was being written. The findings were particularly influential, generating more than a thousand news reports that placed youth issues on the national agenda. Some of the participating youth NGOs established a platform to advocate for a youth policy. Turkey’s first ever Youth Ministry was established by the government a few years later.
Human development reports aside, other initiatives around the world are involving young people in thinking about their future in innovative ways. One example, featured in the 2016 Human Development Report, is the HOPE XXL project.
The project began with ten young people from the Liemers region of the Netherlands who wanted to develop a long-term vision for the future. And it has gone from strength to strength, growing into an international movement involving thousands of young people sharing their ideas for a better future. That process culminated in 2015 with the finalization of their vision for the future, the so called “Liemers List”.
The list covers a wide range of themes important to youth, and to creating more wellbeing, peace and safety around the world. The list is built around pillars, each of which covers a variety of values and aspirations.
For instance, Equality is of key importance. Only when everyone has the same rights and responsibilities is it possible to truly shape one’s own life.
Social Sustainability is central to well-being. The fulfilment of basic needs for every inhabitant of a nation should be a key-focus point of every government. All people on earth should have access to clean water, sanitation, shelter and education. Furthermore, everyone should enjoy freedom of thought, press, speech and information.
It is of paramount concern for both the current and future generations that humanity cares about the environment. Measures to ensure Environmental Sustainability look at issues ranging from pollution and non-renewable resource consumption, the efficient use of clean energy and decreasing the malevolent effects of climate change.
Sustainable Peace and Security is an important precondition for the realization of human development and increased well-being. Mankind should attempt to never again enter war with each other.
Sustainable International Cooperation is an essential means to globally implement the Liemers List.
The initiative is introducing a People’s Partnership – a relationship between two different nations based on their mutual needs and understanding to advance the standards of living in both. The first partnership is between Bangladesh and The Netherlands.
With youth in the lead, the first step is to pilot the Partnership between schools—supported by embassies from both countries — in the Liemers and in Rampal, a region in Bangladesh, which has a number of development challenges. As the project proposes to communicate with the school students from both countries, young volunteers will be recruited to monitor the school classes, in which the Dutch students will communicate with the Bangladesh students over internet. Students will be offered different training sessions and guest lectures on different themes such as culture, health and safety, physical education, technological skills, and digital innovation. Data will be collected at all stages of the work, and made publicly available, to gain insights into the People’s Partnership’s effectiveness.
This joint initiative also aims to create both a sense of global unity while also paving the way for many exchange projects between paired countries that will improve the wellbeing of their citizens. The youth of our age remind us of the importance of empathy. They are the ones who hold the world's future, and it is our duty to enable them.
The HDialogue blog is a platform for debate and discussion. Posts reflect the views of respective authors in their individual capacities and not the views of UNDP/HDRO.
HDRO encourages reflections on the HDialogue contributions. The office posts comments that support a constructive dialogue on policy options for advancing human development and are formulated respectful of other, potentially differing views. The office reserves the right to contain contributions that appear divisive.
Photo Credit: HOPE XXL