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Youth Open House Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by World Bank North American Affairs, Jul 20, 2007
Education , Peace & Conflict   Opinions
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TakingITGlobal connects 150,000 youth around the world to find inspiration, information and gets youth involved in improving their local and global communities. Americans for Informed Democracy, a non partisan organization works to bring the world home to 20,000 young leaders on over 1,000 university campuses. F.O.O.S.T.E.P.S. convenes celebrity voices, such as actor Kal Pen, to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals in high school and college campuses across the U.S.

What do these organizations have in common?

They were all founded by young leaders by their 21st birthday, and they are located in Canada and the U.S.

On June 11 and 12th, the North American Affairs team, in External Affairs, hosted the first North American Youth Open House, dubbed “YOH!” The two day conference convened more than 120 young leaders between the ages of 18-30, representing youth organizations and universities from across Canada and the United States.

The North American Affairs team works to build and sustain a dialogue with American and Canadian citizens about the World Bank's mission to reduce poverty around the world.

The purpose of the conference was to initiate a long-term dialogue between youth in Canada and the U.S.and the World Bank to discuss challenges in achieving a sustainable future.

Whether it is changing the way we communicate through the use of technology, holding a youth summit to address the problems of climate change, raising money for bed nets in Africaor convening celebrity voices for a cause, young leaders are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today.

Diversity and Dialogue

The YOH! took place in the Preston Auditorium of World Bank Headquarters, spanning over two days and incorporating plenary sessions with World Bank staff and prominent youths of civil society. Participants hailed from organizations such as Americans for Informed Democracy, Apathy is Boring, Cultures for Youth, Canadian Artists for African Aid, F.O.O.T.S.T.E.P.S, International Movement of Catholic Students, Student Partnership Worldwide, TakingITGlobal, Youth Challenge International, Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, and many more. Though participants worked in different areas, they were able to share with each other and with World Bank staff their experiences in development and youth advocacy.

Plenary topics focused on youth impact on the development community, how youth can become more active in development projects, and why youth are particularly important to the goals of reducing poverty.

Since youth by nature is a transition period in one’s life, a key issue raised at the conference was the challenge for youth organizations and the Bank to maintain a consistent dialogue. One participant suggested that educating youth about development at an earlier age, not just at the high school or college level, was the key. Another participant stressed that “youth voices need to be represented by youth voices.”

Open Space

The participants also took part in a series of “open space sessions,” convened by facilitator John Engle. By proposing their own topics for discussion and choosing which discussions they would like to attend, the participants were able to set their own agenda and cover the topics they considered most relevant and pressing to youth in the development community.

The open space sessions were very successful, encouraging participants to exchange knowledge and experiences from diverse backgrounds. The remarkable knowledge of all participants allowed an unfettered dialogue about complex dilemmas facing the global community.

Participants convened discussions around issues such as youth participation at the local, regional and national level, interfaith-based initiatives in youth advocacy and development, the impact of conflict on youth, and helping young people develop a vision

The Youth Development and Peace Network (YDP)

On the second day of YOH!, participants engaged with youth from various parts of the world through a Connecting with Youth around the World Plenary session. This plenary session introduced participants to the Youth, Development and Peace Network or (YDP). YDP steering committee members, representing millions of young people from all over the world, traveled from Argentina, Chad and Japan to present the network and the work of YDP in their country and a videoconference linked participants in headquarters to YDP members in Ghana, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Uzbekistan.

The YDP network, coordinated by the World Bank External Affairs Europe Office is an informal and inclusive network of youth organizations operating at the local, regional and global levels, focusing on development and poverty eradication. It aims to create direct interaction among youth organizations, the World Bank and other partners, to facilitate active youth participation in projects, policy design and youth advocacy for development and achieves this mission through knowledge sharing, capacity building, empowerment and resource mobilization.

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