UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, reminiscing on his recent trip to Egypt, said that the "most impressive and most moving experience of engaging people was with young people who are really the initiators of driving change."
The Department of Public Information has found a great deal of truth in this statement in its own work with the non-governmental community.
DPI, in response, has acknowledged the importance of youth activity in NGO work and over the past two years has worked conscientiously to increase their active and visible participation in its work. The first step was to ensure that each delegation to its premier Conference for NGOs had a young person on its team, then, following the Mexico Conference in 2009, increasing representation to two young people ages 18-24 in each delegation.
This motivation was also visible in Australia, where scores of youth representatives, both high school aged youth who participated in a parallel conference as well as their older university counterparts who actually attended the DPI/NGO Conference, focussed actively and vocally on the issue of global health.
These inspiring interventions in Conferences abroad have also led DPI to look closely at other opportunities to include young people in its work with civil society.
This year's Annual Review has allowed DPI/NGO delegations renewing their annual association with DPI to include a youth representative in its registered team. Young people therefore have the unique opportunity to work intergenerationally with potential NGO mentors and get involved on a much deeper level.
Young people also have an opportunity to cover the annual conference from the bird's eye view of the student journalist programme. Qualified aspiring journalists can be accredited to the UN DPI/NGO Conference for the sole purpose of bringing news of the three-day meeting to their colleges or hometowns.
Furthermore, NGO Relations Cluster has decided to appoint two youth representatives to its Conference Planning Committee. This has led to two special events that will incorporate youth participation at this year's 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference to be held in Bonn, Germany, as well as inspiring youth to be more involved in volunteerism which is marking an important milestone.
The first event, titled "Our Year, Our Voice: From IYY to IYV + 10 - Young People Building Partnerships and Promoting Dialogue," was held on Thursday, 9 June, at the Salvation Army building at 10:15 a.m., and focused on how youth can address development challenges in all areas of UN work as well as promote new ideas and innovative solutions to ensure work continues to evolve at the local, national and global levels with their input.
The second event, titled, "Our Year, Our Voice: Engaging Youth Towards a Green Economy," is meant to whet the appetites of young people for the UN DPI/NGO Annual Conference which is being held in Bonn, Germany. It has at its centre the theme of building sustainable communities and fostering responsive citizens. This event is being organized by the Youth Subcommittee of the DPI/NGO Conference Planning Committee who wants to remind everyone that young people are a vital part of our society whose voices can no longer be ignored.
Source: UN DPI NGO Section