Youth Rights at the Heart of Development – Global Youth Forum

The ICPD Global Youth Forum 4-6 December 2012, in Bali Indonesia is taking place with the theme  Youth Rights at the Heart of Development. The outcomes and recommendations from the Forum shall contribute directly to the process of defining the future global development agenda. World YWCA delegate Josie Swords, from the YWCA of Australia shares her impressions.

Josie Swoords

Josie Swords


I was so excited when I learnt that I had been accepted as a delegate to the Global Youth Forum. I became more excited when I was asked to also be a facilitator and rapporteur for some of the World Cafe sessions. And soon after I experienced the euphoria of excitement I became completely terrified. First of all, I wasn’t sure of what a World Cafe session was, and what on earth is a rapporteur? In addition, it seemed that I was going to be the only national youth representative from Australia. Plus I had many, many emails – every day – from multiple people at UNFPA about organising my travel and providing me with visa information. It was very overwhelming, to say the least.

However, once I arrived in Bali for two days of training before the Global Youth Forum, my panic subsided. All of the facilitators and rapporteurs spent two days before the forum talking about the Forum’s key themes, tips and tricks for facilitating and the process for synthesising the recommendations coming out of the World Cafe session. Also, such a diversity of skills and backgrounds made the two days of training a fantastic experience to learn from one another. I was pleased to note, as well, the strong representation of young women in this group.

What really struck me over the two days was the opportunity we had, and were responsible for taking full advantage of, in taking youth voices into the ICPD Operational Review process. The wonderful thing about the Global Youth Forum is that the recommendations gathered from participants in the World Cafe sessions would be fed directly into the outcomes documents for the Forum. We didn’t need to have approval of governments, or UN agencies – only each other. In addition, the voices of thousands of youth unable to attend the forum would also be fed in through the Global Youth Forum’s virtual platform. Thus, the recommendations would reflect the will of the global youth and hopefully feed directly into the processes of setting the global development agenda..

Since the official Global Youth Forum has commenced, I’ve learnt – first hand – the hard work, energy and time that goes into making these international forums work. I have had very long days, met lots of people and processed a huge volume of information in a very short amount of time. Despite the fatigue, I was struck by the unwavering commitment of all of the rapporteurs and facilitators to transparently and meaningfully capture the views, perspectives and recommendations of all the participants. Hopefully the final declaration of the Global Youth Forum will reflect this commitment and hard work!

Now that the Global Youth Forum is coming to a close, I’m feeling a bit sad at the prospect of having to go back to real life. It’s been a privilege to soak up all of the knowledge and understanding that the participants have of the world around them and things they are passionate about. I would love to stay here with all of my fellow delegates who are so forward-looking, enthusiastic, passionate and inclusive – if only I could live my entire life like this! But sadly, real life beckons and the job of promoting the outcomes of the Global Youth Forum is only just beginning.