The Statement of the Rustler’s Valley #Youth Retreat – #ICSW

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We are 60 diverse young people from all continents of the world who met in Rustler’s Valley, South Africa from November 16 to 19, 2014 to discuss the state of civil society around the world and consider our role as young people within it. We do not claim to speak for all youth, or for the diverse views from within our own countries, but rather we seek to lend our voices to the on-going debate about the role of civil society in the social, political and economic transformation of the world. We also want to respond to and further develop the conversation begun by the Open Letter for Activists as young people engaged at grassroots, national and international levels.

Increasingly, the face of civil society around the world is a young one. Yet, we recognize much may be learned from other generations; their struggles, histories and lessons. Although we will face many of the challenges of the future, we believe that with intergenerational partnerships and a shared responsibility, we can transform civil society and therefore global society.

Current strategies to address restrictions on civil society space are failing. To create the necessary space at the national level, we should develop radical tactics to mobilize non traditional civil society groups, create platforms for international solidarity, and develop safe spaces where we can come together in a conducive environment to address these issues.

After much reflection, we collectively arrived at four primary topics of concern to those present: race, gender and sexual orientation; democratization of our own organisations and power structures; reform of relationships between civil society and donor organisations; and the divide between grassroots movements and civil society organisations (CSOs).

Eliminating discrimination: Race, gender and sexual orientation

As youth, we witness and experience the on-going reality of discrimination in civil society based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. We call on all sectors, especially media, governmental, non-governmental, and religious organizations, and the private sector to acknowledge and combat discriminatory practices. Civil society should lead the way by respecting diversity and completely eliminating all forms of discrimination from our own environments.

Democratization of CSOs and power structures

As youth, we acknowledge that current political, social and economic systems and organizational structures favour the few, not the many. We emphasize our duty to democratise:

  • Public dialogue through the use of inclusive and accessible language to broaden participation and break down the hierarchy among civil society and the communities we seek to serve.
  • Structures of power that prevent us from collaborating across issues and themes to establish civil society-wide avenues of influence and the elevation of our collective voice.
  • Access to intergovernmental and civil society processes for local and grassroots social movements.
  • Relationships between large civil society organizations and grassroots movements through the adoption of and respect for higher ethical standards.

Additionally, we should establish new methods of ensuring transparency, through the development of:

  • Conflict of interest indices;
  • Organization-wide gender parity measures;
  • Reporting on executive salaries and board fees;
  • Cooperation indices, and;
  • Mechanisms that ensure the full integration of all stakeholders into decision-making processes, including volunteers.

Rethinking relationships between civil society and donor organisations

As youth, the driving force of our work is our own vision, passion and values. To better serve those with whom we work, we must question the current relationships between donors and recipients. We pledge to:

  • Acknowledge the need to be financially autonomous through self-sustainability.
  • Mobilize unions through membership fees as a way of engaging our own constituencies to ensure their ownership and responsibility in our work.
  • Create alternative and innovative solutions to generate funds for our work.
  • Encourage donors to explore avenues of promoting collaboration between and with civil society organizations.

As youth, we see the increasing danger in becoming more accountable to funding sources than the communities we purport to serve. We recognize the need to first hold ourselves to account, and then:

  • Increase accountability of the international community to its by commitments and constituents
  • Develop the advocacy skills of community members to more effectively claim their rights

Relationship between Grassroots and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

The increasing importance of grassroots actors, both formal and informal, is undeniable in today’s world. Gone are the days where NGOs may claim to represent the “voices” of communities. Our communities can and do speak for themselves and stand on their own work. They invert power structures through community-driven development and building people-power globally. We believe in the following tenants:

  • Access. NGOs should work to access, identify and develop leaders and existing solutions within communities. Serving as enablers, we can support accessibility to and sharing of the core resources needed to foster greater impact.
  • Sustainability. NGOs should promote capacity-building and community ownership to both catalyse the emergence of new grassroots groups and ensure existing groups continue their work self-sufficiently and sustainably. Instead of providing ready-made solutions, the focus should be on connecting likeminded leaders in decentralized networks of information sharing.
  • Measuring success. NGOs should work with communities to develop new, community-supported, ways of measuring and interpreting success around the values of sustainable change and community ownership.
  • Reimagining the playing field. NGOs should work to reorient all funding systems to align with these tenants and the under acknowledged needs of grassroots organizations.

As young people fighting for social justice, we make these criticisms and suggestions with the hope that they will contribute to a reimagining of the role, vision and methods of civil society. We recommit our lives to the struggle against inequality, poverty, environmental degradation and all injustices in whatever shape they assume.

We perceive the vision of our letter as an invitation to all—including young people and those in decision-making positions—to take immediate action to transform civil society. Let this letter stand not only as our message to civil society, but also as a broader commitment to move forward with confidence and purpose towards a just, sustainable and peaceful world.

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To read the original “Open letter to activists” created at the 1st Rustler’s Retreat, check: http://blogs.civicus.org/civicus/2014/08/06/an-open-letter-to-our-fellow-activists-across-the-globe-building-from-below-and-beyond-borders/

To learn more about CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, check: http://civicus.org/index.php/en/about-us-125

#Youth at the #Habitat3

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Today, Martin Ulvestad Østerdal, from the Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU) delivered a statement on behalf of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth to the plenary meeting of the Habitat III PrepCom1 at the UN Headquarters in NY.

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Martin reminded the delegates attending the PrepCom1 about the importance of engaging and listening to youth, children and future generations since they are the ones who will inherit this new habitat agenda being discussed, and will be directly affected by decisions taken today.

He also reminded us that in order to tackle the challenges we face today, we really will need a tailored and ambition new development agenda. The way we plan our existing cities and address the issue of new cities will determine what SDGs are fulfilled and who is left behind.

The agenda needs to go beyond its focus on just Urban, and focus on an agenda for human settlements everywhere, and it needs to be inclusive of everyone, specially women and young people.

Finally, Martin called attention of all the government delegations attending the PrepCom1 that Youth Participation must not be a one off event. That we can no longer accept hand picked youth participation discussing topics defined by others as youth issues. Youth participation needs to be representative, independent and with emphasis on the whole political process.

The new urban agenda needs to maximise our holistic human development and minimise our ecological footprint. And the only way to achieve that is through dialog, participation and partnerships with the people living in the city/ these places, including youth and children. Nothing about us without us.

Read the full statement delivered today here!

 

Cúpula de #Clima chegando chegou a hora de agir! #ClimateSummit

E preparando para a Cúpula de Clima, o mundo está se organizando para um final de semana de mobilizações pelo clima! Para se envolver! http://peoplesclimate.org/pt/

And preparing for the Climate Summit, the entire world is organizing the biggest global mobilization weekend in history! Learn more about how to be involved!! http://peoplesclimate.org/

 

How education on the 21st century looks like?!

If you know me, you probably know I go on and on about the role young people play (or should play) in deciding their own lives. While many agree we need to empower our youth, very little are ready to create the space and the opportunity for young people to take ownership over different aspects of their own lives.

In many previous posts, I’ve talked about youth-led development.. which is the idea of young people becoming equal partners in development processes that will shape their communities and consequently their lives…

But today I want to bring a question about youth-led education… Have you thought about what could happen if students would design their own schools!?

Sounds weird!? Maybe you should have a look at this!

“Education is not the filling of a pail, it’s the lightening of a fire!”

If you want to learn more about the project, and engage with other people trying to re-think education, make sure you connect at https://www.facebook.com/groups/independentproject/

Tell the UN what your priorities for the #Post2015 are!!! #WorldWeWant2015

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Have you already told the United Nations what your priorities are for the Post2015 Agenda?!!? Don’t miss out this opportunity to have your voice heard… go to http://www.myworld2015.org/?partner=youthmob and cast your vote!!!

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Você já disse para a ONU quais são suas prioridades para o #Pós2015? Não perca a chance de fazer valer sua opinião!http://t.co/9ljx9nyz (agora em Português também!!!!)

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¿Le has contado a las Naciones Unidas cuáles son tus prioridades para la Agenda #Post2015? Entra en http://t.co/9ljx9nyz y hazlo ya!

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Some barefeet inspiration…

Continuing with my posts about the wonderful treasuries of Africa… I want to share a little inspiration from Zambia today.

In my two years working with UNICEF in that country, I had the incredible pleasure of coming across a series of special people, and learn a bit more about their work and passion, constantly feeling re-charged with inspiration to continue my own work.

Some of those people I’ve been luck to come across and meet were Adam McGuigan, Tobias TemboTaonga Tembo, Ndala Bukola, Felix Chali, Michael and John Chanda and others that are part of an amazing group called Barefeet Theater Company..

Barefeet started as a few workshops with children living on the streets of Zambia but along the years has grown into one of the most exciting and inspiring projects I’ve personally came across!

They use Arts (theater, music, dance, etc) to inspire, empower and transform lives in Zambia, working with street kids from across the country, trying to build their confidence, and enable them to express themselves and to engage in building a better community.

But as an image speaks for thousand words… I would like to invite you to loose your shoes, and enjoy a bit of barefeet inspiration!

I guess there is no doubts that Africa has many treasures to be discovered still, but more than anything, we definitely have lots and lots to learn from incredible people like the Zambian Barefeet team!

If you want to learn more about the project, check http://www.barefeettheatre.org/

A drop of inspiration! Make THE difference!

If you want to change the world.. but never really know how to start.. feel overwhelmed about all the challenges and difficulties you know you will have to come across..  please check out this little inspiring video…. and learn that all you have to do.. is to start small!

This film is based on a true story. In 1986 a football team that lived on a little island in the south of Thailand called “Koh Panyee”. It’s a floating village in the middle of the sea that has not an inch of soil. The kids here loved to watch football but had nowhere to play or practice. But they didn’t let that stop them. They challenged the norm and have become a great inspiration for new generations on the island.

Youth 21: Increasing youth participation in the UN system!

Are you a youth activist or advocate?! Do you think young people should play a greater role in the UN system?! Do you have views on what should be the mandate of the UN SG Special Advisor on Youth issues?! So you got to stay tuned on the Youth 21 Initiative!!!

The UN-HABITAT Urban Youth Fund facebook page will be hosting all the information on the Youth 21 Initiative and will be filled with updates in the lead up to and during the Global Youth 21 – March Meeting in Nairobi (March 15 – 18).

Make sure you are connected with us to find out how you can be involved in this initiative to increase youth engagement in the UN and in democratic governance.

1 Minute to Save My City!

INTRODUCTION
The theme of World Habitat Day 2011 is Cities and Climate Change.

Share your thoughts on your city and climate change, send us a video or photo. The 1 minute to save my city campaign gives you an opportunity to answer these critical questions on your city and climate change:

• How is my city contributing to climate change?
• How is climate change affecting my city?
• How can I help my city stop climate change?
• How can my city mitigate and adapt to climate change?

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

1. Submit a maximum of three photos, or make a video on climate change.
2. The video, a film, clip or recording should not be more than 60 seconds. Upload your video to your YouTube channel and name your video “1minutetosavemycity“.
3. The photo can be in jpg, pdf or gif format. Upload the photo(s) online directly or to a Flickr account, YouSendIt, or other website, and name your photo or folder “1minutetosavemycity“.
4. After uploading your video or photo and naming it, fill in the Submit Your Entry form. Please include a short description of your climate change film or photo (maximum 50 words) and remember to include the YouTube, Flickr,YouSendIt or other website URL link to your video or photo in the form.
5. The deadline for submission is 23 September 2011.
6. Winners will get a World Habitat Day 2011, Cities and Climate Change t-shirt, and their photo or video will be published on UN-HABITAT and Urban Gateway websites.

For additional information, please contact whd@unhabitat.org
Terms and Conditions

1. Your photo and video must be about climate change. The video must be no more than 60 seconds long
2. Your must have made your video or taken the photo yourself (or in your entry team).
3. The competition is open to anyone, anywhere.
4. Do not use any music, sound or pictures that you have not created without the permission of the copyright owner.
5. Your film should only feature people who have consented to appear in the work.
6. Your film must not contain any obscene, unlawful or objectionable material.
7. Submit your entry electronically using the Submit Your Entry Form.

The power of a good idea!

If you know me well, you probably already heard me speaking super passionately about Jonah Wittkamper who is a legend in the international youth movement and is without any question of the people who most influenced me in what I do today.

He started with the Global Youth Action Network, who most of you may know, and he have inspired and empowered a bunch of us youth leaders out there right now, who are changing the world acting in different fronts, movements, causes.

And not satisfied about all the incredible impact he already had in the world, for 10 years he has been working to make his big idea come true and alive. And I’m currently in NYC, having the incredible privilege of being part of this dream coming true.

I’m currently at  The Nexus: Global Youth Summit on Innovative Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship, and I need to say it’s being one of the most rewarding experiences for me. A bunch of incredible people from completely different worlds, getting together to seek ways we can truly related in deeper levels, trying to collaborate in more meaningful and innovative ways.

I highly recommend you to check out the website of the event: http://nexusyouthsummit.com/ And to try to catch up a bit of this incredible atmosphere through twitter following the hashtag:  #nexussummit

 

I am very excited also that after lunch I will be joining Adam Braun (from Pencils of Promise), Sophia Bush (Actress and Philanthropist) and Yael Cohen (from Fuck Cancer) on a panel to discuss Youth Movements: Transformational Change.

I’m looking forward to the incredible things that will come out of this blast!