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The Government of Nepal is hosting the regional dialogue that will bring together young people and stakeholders and facilitate a space for inter-generational dialogue to explore ways and means to promote effective youth engagement mechanisms at national and sub-national level. This will include sharing best practices on ensuring meaningful participation of a wide diversity of young people, including the most marginalised groups (such as youth with disabilities, indigenous youth, young migrants, young people living with HIV and rural young women) in the conceptualisation, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes at subnational and national level in context of the SDGs.

The first day will be a youth workshop, with young people from each of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, including from marginalised groups from each of the SAARC countries and additional leaders from regional youth organizations. The following two days will be attended by two government representatives per country and the youth participants. Additional participants will include representatives from UN youth working groups in SAARC countries and regional NGOs. The number of additional participants will be limited to ensure the consultation is focused on the SAARC country participants. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is providing technical and financial support to organize the regional dialogue. The SAARC Secretariat is supporting the event.   

Objectives: The objective of the youth preparatory workshop is to prepare youth leaders to analyse current achievements in meaningful and effective youth participation at national level and advocate for their vision of future youth participation in the development and implementation of policies and programmes at national and sub-national level to implement the SDGs.

The objectives of the two day regional consultation with government officials are two-fold:

1)    To share best practices across SAARC countries in policy development and implementation and experiences in involving young people in national development plans and strategies;

2)    To make recommendations on future plans to strengthen youth participation within SAARC countries in the context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the role that young people can play in adapting global goals to national contexts, mobilising to maintain momentum, participating in the implementation of the goals, generating data to monitor progress of governments, and holding governments accountable for their commitments, and

3)    To ensure that follow up mechanisms are proposed that would also include youth representatives

Outcome: The outcome of the Consultation will be SAARC recommendations which will be shared with the SAARC Technical Committee on Women, Youth and Children, comprising representatives of Member States, and being responsible for the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the programmes of cooperation in the area of adolescents and youth.

SAARC commitment to youth

SAARC is a regional organization established in 1985 to serve the South Asian region. Since its inception, issues related to Youth in the region have been given due priority. A Ministerial Conference on Youth in South Asia was held in Maldives in May 1994 to address the issues concerning youth and focus on the broad theme of youth and development. The Year 1994 was designated as the “SAARC Year of Youth”. In 1995, the SAARC Youth Resolution was adopted to advance the overall development of Youth in the region.

The Leaders, during the Sixteenth SAARC Summit (Thimphu, 28-29 April 2010) recognized the important role young people play in the region and directed the development of a SAARC Youth Charter and SAARC Youth Action Plan, to guide regional cooperation in this area. To achieve this end, the Leaders also directed to organize a SAARC Regional Consultation on Youth, involving policy makers and youth leaders from all Member States.

A regional consultation on the draft SAARC Youth Charter and Action Plan was conducted 12-14May 2014 hosted by the Government of Maldives. The draft SAARC Youth Charter was developed through a series of national consultations in SAARC countries and through smaller meetings and online surveys involving youth, government and NGOs. The draft SAARC Youth Charter provides a regional framework for complementary efforts among the State Parties to promote to the fullest extent the health, well-being and potential of all youth, with their full participation. It focuses on 5 key areas of action, namely, Enabling Environment, Gender Equality, Education, Employment and Health.