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Young people represent a vital force with the potential and energy to initiate change. Their full participation in society as useful and valuable partners is crucial to shaping our world. According to the United Nations World Youth Report 2007, youth, defined as people between 15 and 24 years of age, make up approximately 18% of the world's population. Since there are nearly 1.2 billion young people today, there should be no less than 72 million additional young people on the planet by 2025, making the current generation of youth the largest in history.
UNESCO's commitment to youth dates back to the foundation of the Organization in 1945. After World War II, UNESCO contributed to the organization of international volunteer youth work camps to help rebuild Europe. Today, UNESCO's objective is to help empower young people by reaching out to them and responding to their expectations and ideas to foster useful and long-lasting skills. To do so, UNESCO encourages the following:
UNESCO's strategy for acting with and for youth was developed based on the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1995.
UNESCO Youth Forum
In this regard, the institutionalization of the
UNESCO Youth Forum
held every two years since 1999 is a unique event within the United Nations system. This forum is an integral part of all sessions of the General Conference of the Organization, and constitutes an important mechanism in allowing the voice of youth to be heard and giving young people the chance to submit their work proposals to UNESCO Member States.
In preparation for the 6th UNESCO Youth Forum, held in Paris (France) from October 1 to 3, 2009 and with the assistance of its Provincial Youth Advisory Group (YAG) Coordinators, the
Canadian Commission for UNESCO organized seven provincial youth consultations in Nova Scotia, Québec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia and in the Yukon Territory. An online consultation questionnaire was also made available to allow Canadians who were not able to attend the consultations to provide input.
An estimated one hundred and thirty young Canadians aged 16 to 32, representing a broad range of experience and a number of youth organizations from Canada, were selected to contribute their experiences, identify common concerns and contribute to the work of the Commission. Participants shared their vision and innovative ideas on this year's Forum's main theme: "Investing out of the Crisis: Towards a Partnership between UNESCO and Youth Organizations" as well as on five sub-themes corresponding to UNESCO's sectors.
thus encapsulates the many perspectives of Canadian youth who participated in this year's consultation process. These youth-led recommendations served, among other things, to develop Canada's position at the 2009 Youth Forum and provided a framework to the work of the two youth delegates representing Canada at the Forum, Anne Lemieux and Xing Chiu. The recommendations are also meant to guide the activities of youth at the Commission in Canada in the upcoming two years
UNESCO regional forums
Another way for young people throughout the world to participate in defining the 5th UNESCO Youth Forum's main lines of discussion was to participate in one of
six regional forums
organized as part of the follow-up process for the recommendations made at the
4th UNESCO Youth Forum
(2005). These regional forums aimed to promote exchange between the youth of one region and to identify some regional issues regarding the Youth Forum.
Canada participated in the 1st UNESCO Americas Youth Forum held in Acapulco, Mexico, from September 9 to 15, 2007, under the theme "The Dialogue among Civilizations, Cultures and Peoples." Participants produced a
that was distributed at the 5th Youth Forum. The two Canadian delegates at the Americas Forum, Ms. Kimia Ghomeshi and Mr. Benjamin Powless, submitted a report on their participation in the event.
to view the report.
A second Americas Youth Forum will be held on October 15 to 18, 2008 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, under the theme "Building the future of the American Continent". The results of this Forum will be posted on this site.
Youth forum of the 32nd Session of the World Heritage Committee
The Canadian Commission for UNESCO, in collaboration with Parks Canada Agency, organized the youth component of the 32nd Session of the World Heritage Committee.
At this event, 30 people (15 Canadians and 15 people from other countries) ages 18 to 25 met in Canada to expand their knowledge of various world heritage-related aspects and issues. They attended various training workshops in Ottawa and Québec City, applied the principles learned through educational field trips to some sites in Alberta and Newfoundland included in the World Heritage List, and participated in the Committee's work in Québec City from July 2 to 10, 2008. It was the first time the youth component participated in this work.
During their stay, the young people developed various projects aiming to ensure the continuation of the event after this year's event ends.
First, the interactive site,
Six Billion People , One Common Heritage,
was launched on the National Film Board of Canada (NFB)'s CitizenShift website. Participants contributed by submitting texts, photos and videos illustrating their experience. Today, the site is intended to be an exchange and discussion platform between youth of various regions interested in world heritage and everyone, not only participants, is welcome to contribute by adding information on sites from their country or to which they have a particular attachment.
Next, the young people produced a
world heritage video
based on their own experience, which was presented at the World Heritage Committee's opening ceremony. After receiving training on the use of iPhoto and iMovie software during their stay in Ottawa, the young people added the video's images and text themselves. Copies will be distributed to various partners from around the world. The youth have also developed two special documentaries of 28 minutes that will be aired at various times on Canal Savoir beginning December 1st, 2008 until March or April 2009. The documentaries, which have a different content, contain interviews with heritage and conservation specialists on themes including the role of key organisations in the protection of natural and cultural heritage, current and future challenges and the role of youth in conservation strategies. The exact airing dates and times are available for
. They are also available online at
The documentaries will be simultaneously aired online on Canal Savoir's Website (Montreal time). To watch them:
Finally, young people were asked to reflect on a project that they would like to develop in their communities following their experience, in order to have as many people as possible benefit from the knowledge they acquired. The first Hostelling International Christina Cameron Youth Award was awarded to the three projects showing the greatest potential of reinvestment in the community. It is important to note that the young people were actively involved in the grant process. The recipients, selected solely by young participants, are: Ansoumane Sané from Senegal, Taryn Barry from Edmonton, Canada, and Hari Wibowo from Indonesia. Follow-up of these projects will be carried out throughout 2008-2009.
The full report of this event is available
Since 1988, the Section for Youth, Sport and Physical Education of the Social and Human Sciences Sector has been responsible for providing momentum and consistency to UNESCO's action with and for youth. UNESCO maintains direct communication with young people through a wide network of non-governmental youth associations and organizations, and through active participation in many youth events.
For more information on current activities and projects, visit the
Youth section of the UNESCO website
Canadian Commission for UNESCO's strategy for action
Since the 1990s, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO has been highly involved in issues regarding young Canadians (15 to 30 years old) and has been ensuring that they participate fully in its activities. In 2002, the Commission adapted its structure to incorporate youth more fully by creating the position of Programme Officer, Youth, and by facilitating youth participation in the activities of the Commission's three
Today, more than 400 youth organizations and individual members across Canada make up the Youth Network that works in partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. This network ensures that young people's views are an integral part of the Commission's work, and that young people are given the opportunity to participate on an ad hoc basis in various consultations, activities, etc. undertaken by the Commission or in connection with UNESCO's mandated fields.
Members of the Youth Advisory Group ensure ongoing youth commitment within the Commission. Through liaising with the Programme Officer, Youth, members of the Youth Advisory Group help identify the issues and concerns of youth in their communities, provide recommendations and support the Programme Officer in developing new local initiatives and activities.
The Youth Advisory Group has liaison, advisory and participation functions that meet the Commission's mandate. For a complete overview of the Youth Advisory Group's role, functions and action area, please consult the following
Please note: Some of these publications have been made available for download in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To view them, you must have Adobe Acrobat © installed on your computer.