The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015, is the international community’s ambitious response to nowadays most pressing global development challenges and will guide our development priorities for an entire generation. Young people played a key role in shaping this agenda and experience first-hand many of the issues it seeks to address: “The future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today's younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations.”¹ Acknowledging the importance of Youth for an effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, launched a new UN Strategy on Youth “Youth2030”, to engage, but especially to empower, young people.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are interconnected, aiming to integrate the three key dimensions of the 2030 Agenda: economic, social and environmental. Explicitly and implicitly, young people are deeply embedded within their fabric. Their knowledge, influence and innovation are essential if sustainable development is to be achieved.
Recent decades have witnessed significant advances in terms of human development, but deep challenges remain. Progress has been uneven, with many young people across the globe still experiencing interlocked forms of discrimination, political exclusion, high incidence of poverty, limited access to health and educational systems, and significant decent work deficits.
In 1995 the UN General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth which is the internationally agreed resolution that provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people around the world. The WPAY covers fifteen Youth priority areas and contains proposals for action in each of these areas. Implementation of the Programme of Action requires the full enjoyment by young people of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and also requires that Governments take effective action against violations of these rights and freedoms and promote non-discrimination, tolerance, respect for diversity, with full respect for various religious and ethical values, cultural backgrounds and philosophical convictions of their young people, equality of opportunity, solidarity, security and participation of all young women and men.
In August 1998, in the eve of the 21st century, several commitments on those policy fields were stated in the Lisbon Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes, as part of the outcomes of the I World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, organized by the Portuguese Government in collaboration with UN-System partners.
Twenty-one years later, now in the 21st century, states are called to scale up efforts and effectively mainstream Youth in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Action is needed and postponing is not an option!
The outcome of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth 2019 and Youth Forum Lisboa+21 will be a renewed Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes (Lisboa+21) in the framework of the 2030 Agenda and bearing in mind the World Programme of Action for Youth, as well as the Baku Commitment to Youth Policies, capturing the key conclusions from the discussions.
The World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth 2019 and Youth Forum Lisboa+21 will:
1. Provide a space for states and young people to report on national efforts on making the 1998 Lisbon Declaration commitments a reality for young people, built upon the World Programme of Action for Youth, as well as the renewed commitments of the 2014 First Global Forum on Youth Policies (Baku) and the aims and vision of the “Youth2030” UN Strategy on Youth;
2. Facilitate a dialogue around innovative and operational strategies and initiatives – at policy and programme levels – that are advancing Youth mainstreaming in policy making and in the young people’s engagement on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at national, regional and global levels;
3. Enable the exchange of knowledge and experiences in the achievement of SDGs, including information on effective practices in implementing, monitoring, following and reviewing of Youth policies along with Youth participation, as well as to discuss multi-stakeholder alliances and initiatives advancing Youth issues in support of the 2030 Agenda;
4. Trigger discussions around emerging Youth issues and means to effectively assist and engage Youth in overcoming the challenges resulting from a changing world;
5. Agree on a renewed ministerial commitment towards and with young people through effective, innovative and evidence-based policies and programmes.
1) What has changed in Youth policies since the 1998 Lisbon Declaration and how are the megatrends shaping the future for young people being observed?
2) Are the 1998 Lisbon Declaration commitments relevant to address today’s Youth challenges in the framework of the World Programme of Action for Youth, the “Youth2030” UN Strategy on Youth and taking into account the Baku Commitment to Youth Policies?
3) What can be done in order to improve Youth policies and programmes in the framework of the SDG Agenda?
The Conference and the Youth Forum will last two days and will include opening and closing sessions, which all participants and observers may attend.
It will provide a space for ministerial and Youth representatives’ roundtables to discuss progress of Youth on achieving the SDGs and ensuring Youth mainstreaming in its implementation. An interactive roundtable between Ministers and Youth Representatives will be promoted in order to feed the Lisboa+21 Declaration project, that will be discussed and approved on the last day of the Conference and Youth Forum.
Side-events promoted by participants and observers and opened to Youth representatives are highly welcomed.
Participants of the Conference and the Youth Forum will be Ministers Responsible for Youth and high-level government officials and Youth Representatives, respectively.
Representatives and participants of international organizations (both governmental and non-governmental), such as European Union, Council of Europe, Community of Portuguese Language Countries, International Youth Organization for Iberoamerica, International Labour Organization, International Organization for Migration, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Children's Fund, United Nations Population Fund, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, United Nations Office of the SG’s Youth Envoy, UN official country Youth delegates, representatives of civil society, namely of National Youth Councils, Youth-led and Youth-focused organizations, representatives of National Youth Institutes, representatives from the Permanent Missions of Member States to the UN in New York, experts and private sector Stakeholders may be observers.
National delegations with up to three members will be given access to the Conference. In order to make the Youth Forum possible, one of the three members should be a Youth representative under 30 years old.
As for travel arrangements, delegations will be invited to arrive in Lisbon on the 21st of June and depart on the 24th of June.
¹ UN General Assembly, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 21 October 2015, A/RES/70/1, paragraph 53