Friday, October 24, 2008

Youth @ Annual Meeting 2008

*Cross post from*

October 24, 2008—Why should youth be involved in development discourse? Well, today's young people are the future world leaders, after all! Decision-makers today need to work with youth—both learn from them and help them learn. With some 1.5 billion young people between the ages of 12 and 24 in the world, youth represent a tremendous opportunity to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty worldwide.

This year, for the first time ever, the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings included a special three-day session devoted to youth! From October 8–10, 18 young leaders from around the world gathered in Washington to discuss their projects, goals, and development concerns. And while many of the sessions were gruelingly long and intense, participants stayed enthusiastic and engaged throughout. The result: the sharing of many great ideas and initiatives, plus tangible action plans for how youth can become bigger players in development.

What They Talked About

Over the three days, participants shared their views on topics including how young people can exercise citizenship and make their voices heard in society, the school-to-work transition, the World Bank's engagement with youth, and an action plan on how youth can be vital partners in development. Below are just a few of the many interesting ideas and comments raised during the sessions:

Mark Garcia of Silliman University in the Philippines, works on a project that aims to increase youth involvement in monitoring transparency in local government. He observed that low self-worth leads many young people to doubt their ability to make a difference. "If they're not convinced that they have value," he said, "they are hard to mobilize."

Ismaël Mamadou-Tanko, president of the Youth Development and Peace (YDP) network in Togo, discussed his fundraising efforts to help send girls to school. In his opinion, the solution for helping to educate Togo's youth is investment. "There aren't even enough computers in the classrooms," he said, "and teachers' salaries just aren't high enough."

Renata Florentino, who works on a project to improve cities in Brazil, with and for youth, talked about how important it is to involve everyone. "When you put all the groups together, you can really make a change," she said, adding that while it can take a long time to bring everyone on board, the end result is more participatory and therefore effective.

Action Plan: Teaming Up with World Bank

Participants brainstormed over how youth can be more involved in what the World Bank does, and came up with several tangible areas of interest:

  • Strengthen coordination of youth organizations at the local, national, regional and global level. This includes identifying Youth Advisory Groups, Youth for Development and Peace networks, and national Youth Councils that exist in a particular country
  • Enhance information dissemination and make information youth friendly and localized
  • Youth to get information on projects in the pipeline, and training on how to access information
  • Participation in the country assistance strategy—reaching out to the appropriate staff in country offices
  • Plan for the Youth @ Annual Meetings 2009

It was generally agreed that the sessions also helped to clarify what the World Bank is all about, and what it can and can't do.

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