UN Brussels Task Force on Youth joins thousands of young people at the European Youth Event to advocate for meaningful youth participation in democratic life and decision-making

Strasbourg, France82 per cent of people think political systems need drastic reform to be fit for the future and 70 per cent feel that young people should have more say (Be Seen, Be Heard Global Report, 2022). With less than 3 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide under the age of 30, young people continue to be underrepresented in political processes and decision-making (IPU, 2021).

On 9-10 June, the UN Brussels Task Force on Youth, participated in the European Youth Event held and organized by the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The event brought together more than eight and a half thousand participants between the ages of 16 and 30 to discuss young people’s participation in political and democratic processes. 

The UN Task Force joined forces with five young leaders from across the world to co-create a youth-led panel, entitled “Be Seen, Be Heard: Young people as agents of political change”, focused on youth engagement in democratic life and decision-making. This panel, framed under the global Be Seen, Be Heard campaign, an initiative of the Office of the UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and The Body Shop.

The panel included opening remarks by Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, Ms Camilla Brückner, UN Brussels Director, and Mr. Rares Voicu, Member of the European Youth Forum.  Participants debated three issues:  meaningful youth engagement in politics; global youth participation  with a focus on multilateral environmental agreements; and lowering the voting age to 16. Strong arguments on challenges and solutions to these issues were put forward, and a lively discussion ensued between UN Youth Core Group Members and young participants.

Following this event, the Task Force alongside the young leaders  will publish an outcome document reflecting each discussion to present the challenges, opportunities and recommendations of young people in accessing political spaces. Issues such as tokenism, lack of credibility, fear for their safety, and insufficient political literacy were all brought forward. Recommendations like information provision, more resources, education, and safety precautions were gathered from the participants.

Throughout the two-day event, the Task Force also hosted a UN stand to provide information on the various youth initiatives led by the different UN entities, and exchange ideas with young people. Complementing the panel, at the UN stand EYE participants were also invited to answer questions related to the topics of roundtables, bolstering the outcome document results. 

The European Youth Event provided the Task Force with an opportunity to showcase the United Nations’ commitment to advance youth rights and to amplify youth voices through meaningful participation on critical issues, including youth representation in public life and politics, the environment, social injustice, anti-corruption, sustainable tourism, and global legislation.

More Information

  • The UN Brussels Task Force of Youth includes: UNEP, UNESCO, OHCHR, OSGEY, UNODC, IOM, UNDP, UNWOMEN, UNECE, UNICEF, UNWTO, and UNRIC

  • Be Seen, Be Heard Campaign