Beyond the Summit for Democracy
The second Summit for Democracy held at the end of March offered the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment and their willingness to advance democratic ideals and address the challenges our democracy faces to 120 governments. One of the key highlights of this global event was the active participation and engagement of the Summit for Democracy Cohort for civic and political engagement representing the aspirations, concerns, and innovative ideas of the younger generation.
It is undeniable that this 2023 edition of the Summit has given a prominent place to youth civic and political participation, especially by making it the central theme of the event in Costa Rica. At this occasion, San José hosted no less than 14 events on youth during the week of the Summit, organised by democracy support organisations from various countries. This mobilisation offered promising prospects for better youth inclusion and participation in public affairs, primarily by bringing together active and influential key stakeholders, and secondly by giving room for discussion, debate, inspiration and discovery.
Shaping the future of Democracy through and with Youth
Despite some progress in creating space for youth, there is still significant work to be done to engage governments in proactively and tangibly addressing and prioritizing youth-related concerns. We firmly believe that youth inclusion is not only a matter of justice and equality but also crucial for the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of democratic systems. Our collective experiences and expertise highlight the untapped potential, innovative ideas, and fresh perspectives that young people bring to the table.
The Youth Democracy Cohort wants to invite all parties involved in the Summit, civil society and especially governments, to further the efforts already made, and to do so, proposes to build on the tools and deliverables produced, particularly the handbook on youth engagement and the menu of 33 possible state commitments. The Cohort also wants to actively work to be involved and invited in the other continuing Democracy cohorts. And echoing our call to Action, we call on civil society organisations, foundations, the private sector and policymakers to push their governments to make at least one commitment on youth political participation within the 6 months after the 2nd Summit for Democracy.
The way forward
The Summit served as a powerful catalyst for galvanising our determination to push for concrete actions. To achieve our vision of better youth inclusion, we will:
- Continue to advocate for youth-inclusive policies: we will actively engage with policymakers and advocate for the development and implementation of policies that address the specific needs and concerns of young people. We will work towards inclusive educational systems, economic opportunities, and platforms for youth representation in decision-making bodies at all levels.
- Foster youth empowerment and capacity building: we recognise the importance of equipping young people with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to actively engage in democratic processes. We will strive to create opportunities for mentorship, leadership development, and capacity building to empower young leaders to drive positive change in their communities.
- Strengthen youth networks and collaboration: we will foster collaboration and networks among young leaders, youth-led organisations, and youth-focused initiatives active in the Cohort. By sharing best practices, exchanging ideas, and supporting each other’s efforts, we can amplify our collective impact and advance the cause of youth inclusion globally.
- Engage in grassroots mobilisation: we understand that change starts at the grassroots level. Through the projects that we grant, we will help our member organisations to engage with local communities, organising awareness campaigns, workshops, and initiatives to promote democratic values, encourage civic participation, and create spaces for youth voices to be heard.
- Utilise technology for youth engagement: embracing digital platforms and leveraging technology, we will harness the power of social media, online advocacy, and digital tools to amplify youth voices and engage a wider audience. We will utilise these resources to facilitate dialogue, raise awareness, and mobilise support for youth inclusion initiatives.
While the Youth Democracy Cohort has made significant strides, it faces challenges that need to be addressed. One such challenge is the need for sustained support and resources to turn ideas into tangible action.
Governments, civil society organisations, and international institutions must recognise the importance of investing in youth-led initiatives, providing funding, mentorship, and platforms for collaboration. In the upcoming months, nothing will be more valuable for us than the strong support and relay from key institutions and governments participating in the Summit in the different actions and projects led in their countries. We firmly believe that by championing youth inclusion, we can foster more vibrant, resilient, and democratic societies. Together, we can work to break down barriers, challenge age-old biases, and ensure that young people have a seat at the decision-making table. We call on all stakeholders, including governments, civil society organisations, and international institutions, to join us in this mission.
The Youth Democracy Cohort wants to thank the organisers of the Summit for Democracy and its co-hosts: Costa Rica, Zambia, South Korea and the Netherlands for carrying on this initiative and for giving space for youth in the events of three of the co-hosting countries. This platform – without being perfect – remains a very useful and strategic one providing the involved organisations with a unique space to amplify their voices, foster collaboration, acquire knowledge, influence policy, and gain inspiration. It helps to cultivate a sense of global solidarity and collective action among young advocates for democracy, ultimately contributing to the advancement of democratic ideals and practices worldwide.
The Cohort commits to continue living, growing and working to forge a path towards a future where youth inclusion is not just an aspiration but a fundamental pillar of thriving democracies.