‘WE WANT TO BE HEARD, WE WANT TO BE PART OF THE PROCESS’ – YOUNG PEOPLE CALL ON GOVERNMENTS AND BUSINESSES TO PRIORTISE YOUTH IN RESPONSE TO IMPACT OF COVID-19 AT GLOBAL YOUTH SUMMIT

  • Over 150 countries represented at the Global Youth Summit, a virtual event designed to address the negative impacts of COVID-19
  • 15 Governments and UN agencies announce support for the Global Youth Mobilization
  • Summit calls for investment and prioritisation in mental health support, community and leadership development, digital activism, vaccine equity and support for education systems to adapt to the new normal for all young people, especially the excluded or underrepresented

Over three inspiring days, the Global Youth Summit 23 – 25 April 2021 brought together young people, leaders, policy makers and changemakers in one space to discuss the issues and find solutions to the challenges facing young people across the world.

From education disruption, employment and skills, vaccine equity, financial literacy, human-trafficking, the rise in domestic and gender-based violence, the Sustainable Development Goals, digital citizenship, role of non-formal education and learning, climate change and more – the Summit covered it all!

Applications for funding to support innovative Local Solutions to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe are now being received and applied for via / on this portal. An initial $2 million of funding will be available in four tiers, from $500 through to $5,000 – all of which will be decided on by panels of young people. An accelerator program will scale and replicate the most promising solutions, with further funding lined up over the coming months.

More details of the issues covered from the plenary and the break-out sessions, and accompanying policy recommendations, will be added to the website over coming weeks. However, for now, here is a summary:

Initial Summit outcomes

At the closing plenary, Youth Board Representatives of the Global Youth Mobilization Helga Mutasingwa, a medical doctor and member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from Tanzania and Daisy Moran, a community organizer and member of the YMCA from the USA, outlined the initial outcomes from the Summit:

  • No health without mental health

Support for young people’s mental health must be prioritized in COVID-19 recovery plans. There is an urgent need to support young people to manage the impact of lockdowns on their mental health.

The impact of lockdowns should not be underestimated. Isolation and loneliness have taken its toll on the minds of all young people. 90 per cent of young people have reported increased mental anxiety during the pandemic.

It is crucial that governments and policy makers around the world ensure that there is sufficient support for young people in this area and increase awareness of the issue and risks.

  • Gender equality and inclusion

The pandemic has highlighted global inequalities, disproportionately affected those young people already marginalised in society and delayed the march for gender equality.

During the summit we heard first-hand how COVID19 has exacerbated existing issues such as violence against women, girls and other marginalized genders, exposed the lack of basic reproductive and sexual rights and policies around safety and digital use.  

Policy interventions must be designed for all young people regardless of their background or which community they are from. These are all issues that the Global Youth Mobilization will champion.

  • Bridging the digital divide and community development

Young people at the Summit recognized the power of digital activism in advocating for change and bringing communities closer together. The pandemic has inspired young people to innovate and become creative about the ways they support each other and the communities around them – both in person, and online.

The Global Youth Mobilization will be advocating to enable more young people to engage in decision-making in communities, address the digital divide and ensure all communities are connected, regardless of where they are in the world.

  • Education and skills development for the new normal – investment, innovation and prioritization for non-formal education and learning

The future has never been more uncertain for young people, especially when it comes to education and employment. This is particularly acute for the most marginalized and at risk in our societies. More than one billion students in almost every country have been impacted by school closures; 80 per cent of young women are worried about their future; and one in six young people worldwide have lost their jobs during the pandemic.[1]

Young people have adapted to the new normal and need to be ready for a new and ever-changing job market. However, education systems and institutions of learning at all levels remain behind the curve and are at risk of letting young people down because of a lack of support, investment and innovation. They must be supported to adapt quickly and work to address inequalities that are widening because of the pandemic.

The Global Youth Mobilization will seek to implement the commitments made by the Big 6 youth organizations in the Rio Declaration on Non-Formal Education and Learning. Specifically, we will champion the rights to non-formal education and learning, increased recognition, more innovative learning methods, increased investment, and stronger partnerships.

Governments and employers must invest in the education and skills that will prepare young people for the challenges of tomorrow.

  • Building back equally — vaccine equity for all

The Global Youth Mobilization will campaign to build back better from COVID-19 on young people’s terms, equally and fairly.

In many areas of the world, the pandemic is worsening. People are still dying. Hospitals are full. Lockdowns are still here. We must work together to ensure vaccine equity for all. No one is safe until everyone is safe from the virus.

In the coming weeks, the Global Youth Mobilization will be working with our partners across the Big 6 youth organizations and beyond to build on these initial outcomes and develop a comprehensive set of policy recommendations from the Summit. These will form the basis of an advocacy campaign and support for young people to call for change at a local, national and international level. 

Pledges of support

The Global Youth Mobilization is proud to have received the backing and support from Governments, UN agencies and Royal Families from around the world. We will be working to follow-up the messages of support to turn these into concrete outcomes for young people.

You can see all these messages of support here.

It’s time for action now

Following the Summit, the Global Youth Mobilization is asking young people across the world to take the following three actions:

  1. Apply for funding for local solutions to the impact of COVID-19
  2. Advocate for change in their local communities
  3. Make the most of the Summit content to help others.

More details here.

Thank you

The Global Youth Mobilization would like to thank everyone who attended the Global Youth Summit, 23 – 25 April 2021. Thank you to all the amazing partners who delivered over 70 hours of incredible and impactful content, the 200+ speakers and facilitators for inspiring all the participants and all the staff and volunteers across the Big 6 youth organizations for helping to make it all happen.

Most importantly, thank you to the thousands of young people. Your ideas, creativity and passion are unstoppable. #YouthMobilize


[1] All sources are included in this paper: Young People Championing Post-Pandemic Futures: Policy Recommendations from the Big 6 Youth Organizations

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