Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in addressing development challenges

19-29 August - Join The World We Want e-discussion on civic engagement and social cohesion

Starting 19 August 2013, UNV moderates an e-discussion on civic engagement and social cohesion within the World We Want consultation on disadvantaged children and young people living in urban areas, co-facilitated by UNICEF, UN Habitat and the Major Group on Children and Youth.

Join us now for the coming two weeks, which will specifically focus on civic engagement and social cohesion. We invite you to reflect on below guiding questions for the discussion, but please feel free to address any other aspects.

1. What are the key obstacles faced by young people in urban settings with regards to their participation in the life of their community?

2. How can opportunities be increased for young people to engage constructively in their communities?

3. How can the capacities and skills of young people be best leveraged?

4. How can young peoples’ participation contribute to shaping their own livelihoods/and communities?

5. What role can civic engagement play in building inclusive societies?

We would like to hear particularly from young people about challenges they face in today’s urban areas. Any concrete idea in terms of goals, targets and indicators that you would like to see in the post-2015 agenda in this context is also welcome.

At UNV we know that civic engagement, including youth volunteerism, is a powerful means to build cohesive societies and to contribute to sustainable development and peace. As UNV Executive Coordinator, Richard Dictus, highlights in the invitation letter to this discussion, urban youth, although deprived in multiple ways, present a particular potential in this context. Their energies, when channelled into positive action, foster tolerant and inclusive societies. Civic engagement leverages youth’s capacities, skills and creativity and has the potential to re-ignite hope and re-create linkages among people across cultural and socio-economic divides.

We are aware that there are many obstacles on the road to posivitely leveraging the energy of millions of young people on the planet and a lot has to do with real opportunities for engagement and participation. The situation of young people and their transition to adulthood is intrinsically linked to the global social, economic and environmental situation. In order for the post 2015 agenda to be truly sustainable, the spaces for young people not only to make their voices heard, but to actually contribute to shaping and implementing the agenda need to increase. Young people around the world stand ready to engage and have demonstrated it impressively in recent times. It is up to today's societies to re-negotiate the spaces available for young people to play a constructive role.

We would like to hear from you about challenges you see and ways to overcome them that you know from your own practice and research. Let’s keep up the conversation and make use of this opportunity to actively take part in shaping the post-2015 global development framework.