The event, held from January 15 – 17, 2016 in Hammamet, Tunisia, was organized by UNFPA Libya in coordination with UNFPA Tunis and the UNESCO Libya Project Office within the framework of its EU-funded project Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth). It brought together 40 Libyan and Tunisian youth active in civil society to formulate national action plans for youth in each of their respective countries. These action plans will serve as starting points for the development of a multidisciplinary, multi-dimensional national youth strategy for Libya, and for discussions with government authorities to review and elaborate upon the existing national youth strategy in Tunis.
Noting the importance of listening to the ideas and voices of youth in national policies, Georges Makram Georgi, the head of UNFPA Libya, emphasized in his opening remarks the need to take concrete steps, in the form of realistic recommendations, to make youth a central concern in policy-making. Michael Croft, UNESCO Representative to Libya, elaborated that the purpose of the forum was to enable these youth leaders to share the wealth of their knowledge and experiences, providing guidance to international organizations and partners on how best to support their ongoing work.
Libyan participants represented a broad range of local civil society organizations including the Libyan Scouts and Guides Association, the Red Crescent, and other grassroot NGOs including Zaykom Zayna, an organization that advocates for the rights of the disabled, Attawsul Association for Youth, Women and Children, Hexa Connection which focuses on youth and technology, and others. Similarly, Tunisian participants represented Youth Mannouba and other organizations, bringing with them a diversity of experiences.
In a series of intensive workshops, the participants identified the most relevant obstacles youth face in education, health, the job market, and challenges related to civic engagement, gender equality, peace-building and social cohesion.
Working together, they developed a series of recommended actions including specific programs and policies to be implemented by ministries, civil society organizations and media outlets to support youth in four strategic priorities: building the capacity of youth, establishing relevant institutions, providing an enabling environment and developing specific policies.
This event follows closely on the heels of the Security Council’s adoption of Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security, which recognizes the important role young people play as catalysts for positive change, social development and peace in their countries especially in situations of conflict or instability.
Both UNFPA and UNESCO have support for youth as one of their main priorities, having projects and activities supporting young men and women’s efforts in peace-building, participation in the political sphere, civic engagement, social and economic empowerment.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.