Transforming young lives: youth mainstreaming in development planning

03 August 2017

New policy guidance from the Commonwealth Secretariat will help governments to place young people’s needs and aspirations at the heart of national policy-making.

New policy guidance from the Commonwealth Secretariat will help governments to place young people’s needs and aspirations at the heart of national policy-making.

The publication, Transforming Young Lives: Youth Mainstreaming in Development Planning, will enable ministers and senior officials to create more ‘youth-centric’ institutions and planning processes, in which young people actively participate in decisions that affect them.

Launched at the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in Uganda, the policy guidance is intended to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by involving young people in finding solutions to global challenges - from ending poverty to combating climate change.

The lead author, Dharshini Seneviratne, Programme Manager at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “Young people are passionate about injustice and inequality and want to play a meaningful part in policy decisions that affect them and the communities they represent.

“The goal of this guide is to make development planning and policy-making more youth-focused so that young people and society benefit from better social, economic and political outcomes".

The publication was developed with a research grant awarded by the government of Malaysia. It offers guidance on programme design, operational planning and budgeting, achieving political buy-in for youth development, as well as monitoring and evaluating outcomes.

Commonwealth Secretariat Director of Youth Katherine Ellis, writing in the foreword, says the publication will address a “gap in guidance” by presenting tools and techniques to make young people and their interests visible in government decision-making.

“It is intended to trigger dialogue and mobilise consensus around visions and strategies for youth mainstreaming,” she said. “This work with, and for young people, will further strengthen young people’s opportunities for living in dignity, good health, peace and economic security, in a society that respects and values intergenerational equality and justice.”

Nikolai Edwards, Vice Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council, commented: “The CYC sees the handbook as a useful resource to engage with governments and other stakeholders working with young people, to better inform policy decisions and the quality of engagement, and to ensure that we achieve tangible outcomes and real change in the lives of young people.”

During the opening ceremony of the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland stressed the importance of strengthening policy environments and regulatory frameworks and scaling up the capacity of people responsible for effecting change.

She said: “Our job is to deliver concrete policy recommendations and practical commitments to action that will transform the life chances of the young man who is wondering whether he will be able to find the finances to start that business he has been dreaming of since he was 15 years old, or of the young woman who is uncertain if her new university degree will help her find a decent job in her chosen field or profession.”

Find out more about the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting: