United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development

The United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) is a network consisting of UN entities, represented at the headquarters level, whose work is relevant to youth. The aim of the Network is to increase the effectiveness of UN work in youth development by strengthening collaboration and exchange among all relevant UN entities, while respecting and harnessing the benefits of their individual strengths and unique approaches and mandates. In the framework of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) and its 15 priority areas, the Network advocates for, supports and reviews progress on the implementation of UN Resolutions, Conventions and the internationally agreed development goals that are youth-related. The Network also contributes to increasing the understanding and visibility of the UN System’s work on youth development. In particular, the Network:

  • Provides a forum for cooperation and support;
  • Provides an opportunity for ongoing exchange of information on the UN system’s work on youth development, including through knowledge management initiatives and tools;
  • Strengthens and supports cooperation to promote youth development, through joint advocacy, initiatives and other forms of cooperation;
  • Draws on the members’ networks and relationships with governments, youth-led and youth-focused organizations, donor agencies, civil society organizations, multilateral organisations and others, to advance youth development;
  • Facilitates and supports youth involvement and participation in the UN System and its programmes or initiatives at all levels.

Objectives

The main objectives of the UN Inter-Agency Network are:

  • To identify key joint priorities and plan collaboratively to implement related initiatives;
  • To share good practices and expertise and to promote effective cooperation among the entities in programming at country and regional levels;
  • To identify global strategic opportunities, ensure coordinated input, facilitate and support sustainable follow-up mechanisms.

Composition

The Network consists of representatives identified by the Heads of UN entities whose work is relevant to youth issues. It has two co-chairs. The United Nations Programme on Youth is the permanent co-chair of the Network. As such it coordinates administrative functions of the Network and provides support and continuity to the other co-chair and the Network as required. The second co-chair of the Network is selected by the members and rotates on an annual basis. For 2010, the co-chair is UNESCO.

The Network holds regular meetings at UNHQ, with telephone/video conferencing to other Duty Stations outside UNHQ. A meeting of the entities’ representatives is held on an annual basis, when possible in the context of another youth meeting.

The Network supports, encourages and cooperates with relevant interagency initiatives, and encourages relevant thematic sub-groups among members. Experts and organizations, in particular youth-led and youth-focused organizations and networks, whose knowledge may contribute to the Network’s work may be invited to its meetings by the co-chairs, after consultation with other members of the Network.

The Network promotes the development of similar inter-agency networks on youth development at the regional and country levels and works with these entities to ensure global and cross-regional coordination of collaborative initiatives.

Joint Activities

As a first step to strengthen and support cooperation to promote youth development, the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development has identified various activities that the Network can undertake jointly during the biennium 2010/11. These include activities related to the International Year of Youth, preparations for international conferences addressing youth development, as well as joint research initiatives and publications.

In spring 2010, the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development developed the UN Framework Approach for the International Year of Youth in order to provide a concrete framework for collective efforts during the Year. The UN system’s approach for the Year focuses on the three key areas outlined below. In each of these areas, collaborative partnerships with young people are fundamental. The progress achieved during this Year in each of these areas will lay the foundation for further work in youth development, including the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth as well as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
The three key objectives of the Framework are:

Create awareness » Increase commitment and investment in youth

  • Increase recognition of youth development as a smart investment by the public and private sectors
  • Advocate for the recognition of young people’s contributions to national and community development and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals
  • Promote understanding of inequalities amongst youth and how to effectively address the needs of the most disadvantaged
  • Foster research and knowledge building on youth to better inform youth policies and programmes

Mobilize and engage » Increase youth participation and partnerships

  • Institutionalize mechanisms for youth participation in decision-making processes
  • Support youth-led organizations and initiatives to enhance their contribution to society
  • Strengthen networks and partnerships among Governments, youth-led organizations, academia, civil society organizations, the private sector, the media and the UN system, to enhance commitment and support for holistic youth development

Connect and build bridges » Increase intercultural understanding among youth

  • Promote youth interactions, networks and partnerships across cultures
  • Empower and support youth as agents of social inclusion and peace

Another joint activity of IANYD members related to the International Year of Youth was the Global Launch of the Year on 12 August 2010 at United Nations Headquarters. The launch celebrated young people’s contributions to development and peace and was attended by a number of high-ranking UN officials, politicians, actors and, of course, youth. A highlight of the launch was a joint statement by 28 Heads of UN agencies for the International Year of Youth. More information on the global launch is available here. The global launch was complemented by launch events organized by UN offices around the world.

Establishment of the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development

The International Year of Youth was preceded by a number of regional and national observances devoted to young people: 2008 was African Youth Year and Iberoamerican Youth Year; 2009 was designated as the official youth year in the Russian Federation, and the African Union has declared 2009-2019 as the decade of youth development in Africa. At intergovernmental meetings, including the General Assembly, the Commission for Social Development, as well as African Union and Iberoamerican Summits, Member States have increasingly highlighted effective youth development as a core means of achieving inclusive, productive societies capable of reaching international development benchmarks such as those outlined in the Millennium Development Goals.

The increased interest in youth at all levels, has also led to the expansion of youth-related activities across the UN system. In preparation for the World Youth Congress in Quebec City in August 2008 and the 2008 UNDESA publication “Growing Together: Youth and the Work of the United Nations”, the UN Programme on Youth consulted with some 30 UN entities that had adopted a youth focus in their programming and project development. This expository undertaking brought to the forefront the extent to which a youth focus had taken root throughout the system, as well as the overlap and complementarities among the projects and programmes. This consultation process led to regular meetings of an interagency group on youth. The group served as a platform for entities to provide updates on youth-related work and to initiate dialogue on prospects for collaboration.

In 2009, the participants of the interagency group on youth decided that a more structured coordination mechanism would be helpful to ensure the greatest possible efficacy in UN efforts to facilitate youth development. The youth organizations represented in the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations (ICMYO) also called upon the interagency group to become more formalized in order to promote collaboration among the UN system and youth organizations.

With this in mind, the UN Programme on Youth and UNESCO organized a meeting of Heads of UN Youth Programmes, which took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 18-19 February 2010. At this meeting, the Terms of Reference for the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development were adopted. The UN Programme on Youth was confirmed as a permanent co-chair of the Network and UNESCO was chosen as the rotating co-chair for 2010. In addition, participants identified possible areas for joint collaboration during 2010/2011 and identified a number of other action points for the Network.

A resolution of the General Assembly (A/RES/64/130) welcomed the increased collaboration among United Nations entities in the area of youth development, and called upon the United Nations Programme on Youth to continue to act as the focal point within the United Nations system for promoting further collaboration. In addition, through resolution 47/1 of the Commission for Social Development, Member States requested the Secretary-General to provide the General Assembly at its sixty-sixth session, through the Commission for Social Development at its forty-ninth session, with a comprehensive report on the coordination and collaboration of relevant UN entities in their work related to youth.  This report is being coordinated by the UN Programme on Youth and will be available in February 2011.