OP-ED: Youth Advocates for Global Health - WHO Youth Council

OP-ED: Youth Advocates for Global Health - WHO Youth Council

In 2022, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted Resolution A/RES/76/137 to promote and engage young people in the policymaking process and plans through the UN Youth Strategy. Through the resolution, the UN calls on Member States to affirm their commitment and investment with and for young people to address the targets of the Agenda 2030.

chris black

“The Resolution reaffirms
the commitment of Heads of State and Governments in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind, including youth, while also emphasizing the importance of implementing, following up on, and reviewing strategies that adequately address youth issues and give all young people, as well as youth and youth-led organizations, real opportunities for full, effective, constructive and sustainable participation in society, including in relevant decision-making processes and monitoring, in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life, including in designing and implementing policies, programmes, and initiatives, in particular, while implementing the 2030 Agenda. The Youth Agenda reiterates that the primary responsibility for implementing the World Programme of Action for Youth lies with the Member States and urges Governments, in consultation with youth, youth-led and youth-focused organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to develop integrated, holistic, inclusive, and effective youth policies and programmes as well as coherent cross-sectoral efforts."

whatsapp image 2023 01 27 at 4 26 00 pm

I was honored to attend the inaugural meeting of the WHO Youth Council held in Geneva from the 27th to the 30th of January representing YOURS - Youth for Road Safety. I got the chance to see how different UN Agencies and multilateral stakeholders are taking steps forward to ensure action with and for youth.

About the Youth Council-  WHO
This energetic and inspiring network counts 22 youth-led organizations and young people from health and other development goals backgrounds fostered by WHO. The role of the Youth Council is to collaborate with the Director General and WHO Senior Leadership to promote public health by ensuring a meaningful youth engagement strategy. 

“The Youth Council is the central element of WHO’s commitment to engage with young people, by supporting their leadership, promoting partnerships, and advocating for their recognition and visibility,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Your voices and your insights can make a real difference to realizing WHO’s vision of Health for All.”

whatsapp image 2023 01 27 at 11 17 29 pm

We developed plans and creative proposals during the meeting to shape #HealthforAll. We also met with different colleagues from WHO to see possible synergies and other opportunities to support one another.

The Council is organized into working groups. YOURS is part of the  
Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Department along with other similar organizations. From the YOURS side, we will promote road safety and sustainable mobility and prevent road traffic injuries from taking the lives of young people and other vulnerable road users.  

Dr. Tedros shared with us his comments and feedback on the proposals created by the Council to support meaningful youth engagement in a co-leadership role with him to address #HealthforAll. He also told us that having a kind mindset is always a good starting point for engaging the discussion and learning from each other. He encouraged us to lead the global health agenda together. 

whatsapp image 2023 01 29 at 10 28 49 pm

At YOURS, we believe that the time is now to work and include young people in the policymaking process to contribute, demand, and deliver road safety policies.  We are working closely with different partners and networks at the local and global levels. We work with young advocates and partners like FIA Foundation, the Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth (OSGEY),  and WHO.

To support policymakers and young networks, YOURS has developed a toolkit that explains different steps and methodologies on how to meaningfully engage young people in the design and implementation of public policies. You can find more information here.

The Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety, on the other hand, has been working on different policy briefs on climate, gender equality, and education that explains the linkages between road safety and the broader development agenda. It also discusses how young leaders have the power and knowledge to make policy change happen at the grassroots level. 

whatsapp image 2023 01 27 at 4 20 33 pm

We are thrilled to be part of this youth engagement body in the WHO Youth Council and we will make sure that each of our Youth Coalition members can share ideas and proposals on global health, road safety, and Agenda 2030. We will be accountable for our role and progress at the Youth Council. 

During the meeting, I was inspired by young leaders from across the world who were ready to work together for the global health agenda. 

Read more about the Youth Council Meeting with the official WHO Press Release.