Children and Youth propose a Youth UN

A Chance for Change: Child and Youth Finance and the Post-2015 Agenda was organized by Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) with the support of United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) on May 23, 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The meeting featured children, youth and high-level stakeholders, and was attended by 341 participants from 90 countries, including ambassadors and representatives of 43 permanent missions to the UN.

The main objective of the meeting was to ensure that the financial and social inclusion of children and youth are included in the Post-2015 agenda, as inclusion is crucial for fighting inequalities and promoting sustainable growth. This meeting allowed youth to bring their concerns, desires and dreams for the future directly to policymakers. All recommendations for the Post-2015 agenda were structured along the following themes: basic access to financial services, employability, Economic Citizenship Education and youth livelihoods (employment and entrepreneurship).

90 children and youth, from across the world, spoke to the high-level stakeholders on behalf of 4,000 youth who participated in the global youth survey; 6,500 people involved in the DreamsBank campaign on Facebook; and 3 million conversations on Twitter. They presented their ideas to the high-level stakeholders on what they think should be included in the Post-2015 Agenda, stressing the importance of increased Economic Citizenship Education, Financial Inclusion and Youth Livelihoods in helping them develop into active and responsible economic citizens capable of making informed decisions.

The youth representatives presented the following 8 points, which they hope will be included in the Post-2015 Development Agenda:

  • Creation of a youth-led UN body dedicated to the youth's social and economic well-being;
  • Economic Citizenship Education (ECE) should be offered in primary, secondary school and post-secondary school curricula;
  • Every child and youth 12 to 18 should have a bank account;
  • Governments should create policies and programs to prevent youth unemployment and facilitate entrepreneurship through special funds;
  • All companies should dedicate a portion of their revenue profit to youth related activities;
  • There should be special tax benefits for youth, especially youth entrepreneurs;
  • Governments should ensure that all youth currently up to the age of 30 have a bank account;
  • Every person in the world should be financially included especially youth from 18-24.

Emerging strongly from this meeting was the request by children and youth for a separate, youth-led “Youth UN” – a UN body dedicated to addressing youth issues, particularly their social and financial well-being. This body could replicate the UN structure, with its own Youth Council (or General Assembly) and Secretariat. It would consist of regional representatives and coordinate with existing UN efforts. In response to this request, Mr. Ravi Karkara, the Global Expert Advisor on Children and Youth, UN-Habitat, agreed that "we need to create permanency in the youth agenda and be a part of this partnership for a larger reengineering of the youth agenda."

“We will advocate for each one of the points you have raised today into the post-2015 agenda – they are much more than requests, they are rights and I support them fully,” said Ms. Amina Mohammed, the Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. Ms. Mohammed went on to express the UN’s support for advancing the youth agenda, especially in the areas of financial inclusion, financial education and employment.

Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, committed to bring forward the points raised by the youth in this meeting to the post-2015 discussion. He highlighted that for the 75 million young people who are unemployed; projections show that 600 million jobs will be needed; therefore he finds it imperative that we build an environment that encourages, aids and supports the youth in creating their own jobs. John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly, expressed his support of the meeting’s agenda through his Special Advisor, Mr Nicolas Pron who said "It is time for change. It is time for children and youth to be spared the burdens of poverty, and it is time for youth to experience social and financial inclusion, which would allow them to thrive through decent employment or creative entrepreneurship."

The World Bank’s support of the youth’s requests and the Child and Youth Finance Movement was emphasized by Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, President’s Special Envoy, World Bank.

UNCDF’s Policy Advisor, Ms. Beth Porter, confirmed UNCDF’s commitment to taking forward the issues raised by the youth to other UN agencies. She reminded the audience that this is the chance for change and it must be taken, collaboratively, to advance the agenda to ensure that all youth are financial included and financially capable.

The meeting concluded with statements from UN permanent representatives to take the requests of the children and youth forward during their country-level deliberations. Ms. Simona-Mirela Miculescu, the Ambassador of the Romanian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, expressed her appreciation for the power and creativity of youth, emphasizing the potential and responsibility of the world’s youth to catalyze change. Ms. Miculescu described how sustainable economic growth was linked to financial inclusion and financial education for youth.