Ivana Savić shares her thoughts on Youth participation in the Post-2015 Agenda

Ivana SavicIvana Savic is a Policy Officer at Change Mob and Founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Development Studies. She serves as a board member to the Youth Advisory Group (YAG) at CIVICUS. Prior to these roles, she served as Junior Advisor at the Gender Equality Department to the Ombudsman of the Republic of Serbia. Since 2009 she served as the representative for the Child Rights Centre in Belgrade, Serbia, which was an Organizing Partner for the Major Group on Children and Youth at the Rio +20 Conference in Brazil last year.

How have the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) framework assisted in the development of youth organizations, capacities and livelihoods since its inception in 2000?
MDGs have been important in advancing the livelihoods and capacities of young people, but also mobilizing young people to be involved in the implementation and progress reporting of the MDGs. However, Beyond 2015 goals should have at least one goal committed to youth and one committed to human development governance, particularly issues pertaining participation in decision making.

What are some of the key issues facing youth throughout the world today, which should be prioritised in a Post-2015 Agenda?
People all over the world, especially young people, are faced with increasing environmental degradation, human rights violations and economic crises and those issues should be prioritised in the Post-2015 Agenda. A clean, safe, healthy, adequate and sustainable environment is a prerequisite for life, survival and development. It also bares consequences for the fulfilment of human rights. Unfortunately, however, the environment is not an indefinite resource and its degradation negatively influences human health and life as well as the future and the lives of future generations. Furthermore, human rights, especially rights such as right to life, survival and development, right to adequate standard of living, right to health, right to work and social security, freedom from violence; and also the right to participation should be emphasised in the post MDGs agenda. It would be better to say that protection, fulfilment and advancement of human rights should be a foundation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. After all, development goals could be perceived as efforts made toward fulfilling the vision of a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Which actors and stakeholders are crucial in advancing the causes of youth groups in the Post-2015 Agenda?
As the Post-2015 process is an intergovernmental driven process, governments all over the world could be perceived as some of the most important partners in advancing youth causes in the Post-2015 Agenda. Similarly, the UN has had an important role in supporting and advancing the position of young people and introducing institutional changes for enhancing youth participation in decision making. Finally, yet importantly, civil society organisations working at local, national, regional and international level are instrumental in supporting the youth, both policy and action wise.

What can the youth do to enhance their participation in achieving their own development goals?
Young people are resourceful, but participation is not a given - it is created. Youth must create opportunities for their participation by raising the profile of young people in the development agenda. Along with that, institutional frameworks should be redefined in such way so they enable meaningful participation of youth and in general of civil society in development decision making. We should be open for embracing new and innovative forms of participation. From the Rio+20 process it was learned that the key factors of the success of youth in the process in spite of the very limited resources were passion, commitment, innovation, self-empowerment, self-organising, building and nurturing partnerships as well as making the change fun, because change should be fun.

How is Change Mob currently engaging in the Post-2015 Agenda?
Change Mob is involved in numerous UN led and civil society initiatives, some of them being initiatives and activities organised by the UNCSD Major Group for Children and Youth coalition for the Beyond-2015, Beyond2015 Children and Youth working group, My World initiative and others. In addition, Change Mob is conducting post-MDGs Brazilian youth consultation, chairing beyond 2015 Brazilian coalition. Finally, with the Centre for Human Rights and Development Studies it is preparing and organising Serbian youth consultations for the post-MDGs.

*Interview conducted 1 February 2013