World Youth Conference 2010 – behind the scenes

10 ICMYO organisations have been part of the Social Forum Organizing Committee (SOFOC) for the World Youth Conference 2010. During the next week different organizations will share their experience from the WYC here on the ICMYO blog. First out: The European Youth Forum. 

WOW! This is huge!
I have smelled it! The atmosphere of the Global Interactive Forum, the expectations to the World Youth Conference – and the floors of the Polyforum. A similar conference has not taken place on such a high level since 1998, and we are all very excited. 

SOFOC in front of the Polyforum - where approximately 4 000 people are expected for the opening ceremony...
SOFOC in front of the Polyforum - where approximately 4 000 people are expected for the opening ceremony...

When the European Youth Forum decided to join the Social Forum Organizing Committee (and to invest all the efforts we have, a lot more than we anticipated), it was because this is linked to a process we believe in. We do believe it is important to link the Millennium Development Goals to the World Program of Action for Youth, we do think it is important to challenge the decision-makers responsible for youth – and we believe in global cooperation to tackle global issues. 

Foremost we saw that this – unlike a lot of similar initiatives – is linked to an existing political process. We don’t need more photo opportunities – we need action! And Mexico has promised to take our advise on board – first to the Governments Forum – and if our recommendations pass there all the way to the UN General Assembly – and the 2010 MDG Review. For this the Government of Mexico, and the Mexican Youth Institute and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in particular, deserve a lot of recognition. 

Full of expectations 

Are YOU ready for the International Year of Youth? Read more on
Are YOU ready for the International Year of Youth? Read more on

It has been a very interesting year since we first got involved. For me as vice-president of the European Youth Forum this has been the one single event demanding the most work. Which expectations I have today? Well, I have to admit that I had more ambitions one year ago – probably more realistic today. Still, despite all the challenges we have faced and are facing –I still think the conference has huge potential. 

So what can we expect? Will the World Youth Conference change the world? It is diffuclt to say if more young people will get access to food, education and decent jobs because of the World Youth Conference. But that is definitely the goal.

I think the World Youth Conference can contribute to 

  • increased recognition of the need to invest in youth (including in their education and their health) to tackle poverty
  • increased recognition of the rights of young people
  • increased understanding amongst UN Member States that  the World Program of Action for Youth is ready for revision by 2015 – and that this should be linked to the renewal of the MDGs

Further we are already seeing a better dialogue and cooperation between UN agencies dealing with youth, which have increased their cooperation a lot over the last year. The manifestation of this increased cooperation is the establishment of the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development. In the European Youth Forum we have been asking for such a structure for years. We are happy – but not totally content. A very important element is still missing – the mechanisms for youth influence in this network. However, we have experienced a growth in the recognition of ICMYO as a tool of cooperation also from the side of the network – and the future looks brighter than in a long time. 

This is the arena for the opening. Can take 6400 people...
This is the arena for the opening. Can take 6400 people...

Further – the program of the Global Interactive Forum looks so impressive! There are so many interesting activities going on there that regardless of what the Governments are able to agree upon the World Youth Conference will serve as a huge space for non-formal and global education. The mix of Governments, NGOs, UN Agencies and the private sector looks amazing – and the Mexicans have done everything to ensure a cool space to work. 

We are here for you
We kicked off today’s SOFOC meeting with a long and impressive agenda – but the major concern has been (and still is) to get the participants here. So many participants are still missing tickets, visas or transit visas – and we have gone continent by continent, case by case. Hour by hour we have seen the Mexican Government, UNFPA and IOM ensuring more participants by issuing the necessary documents. 

Unfortunately, for some it is already too late. If the next flight from your island is on Wednesday, as the case is for some of the participants, the NGO Global Meeting will already be over. In SOFOC we are extremely sad about this – as we already last December warned about and advised about the time-consuming visa process. We have adjusted the program so that those who are receiving tickets today and tomorrow can also participate in as much as possible of the policy-making activities in the NGO Global Meeting. 

If you were not selected as a participant or cannot come – you can still follow the work and give recommendations online. Either here on the blog – or on the website of the World Youth Conference 2010: 

I hope as many as possible will take that opportunity! 

All the best,
Christoffer Grønstad
Vice President, European Youth Forum 

PS: Are you in Mexico or around? Time to go to Leon? It will definitely be worth it.
PPS: Tomorrow we are joining the last meeting of the International Committee (UN agencies and Governments). Fernando (YMCA) and Ana Maria (FLAJ) will represent us in the meeting, the rest of us will be observers. After that we are training the facilitators and finalising the lobby strategy. Sleep? When we turn old 🙂

Published by ICMYO

The International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations (ICMYO) is an informal network of membership-based, democratic, representative and accountable International Youth NGOs and Regional Youth Platforms. Our main objective is to strengthen the cooperation of youth organisations at the regional and global levels in order to coordinate policy inputs to the UN and other global youth policy processes.

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