Vienna (Austria), 13 October 2022 — With over 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24, the world is blessed with the largest generation of young people in its history. The large population of young people brings great opportunities with many young people serving as agents of change in communities faced by challenges. However, many young people are vulnerable to various crimes and drug abuse. A coordinated and targeted approach to working with and for young people is required to address both the immense potential and vulnerabilities.
To help tackle these needs, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) hosted a Youth Consultation prior to the 11th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (COP UNTOC) with the intention of listening to young people and to exchange with them on UNODC’s youth engagement as well as the impacts of transnational organized crime on all generations. The one-day hybrid event gathered 55 participants under the age of 35 years from 33 countries and is the first UNODC Youth Consultation that is associated with COP UNTOC.
During the first track on meaningful youth engagement, participants expressed the need for greater involvement in issues related to UNODC mandate areas. In her opening speech, Angela Me, Chief of UNODC Research and Deputy Director DPA highlighted the importance of young people in shaping the UN.
Many of the discussions on transnational organized crime centred on the key role that young people play in crime prevention, especially in their own communities. Among the many relevant examples from participants on challenges and achievements in their work, Ishan Shaan, founder of the NGO Stolen Dreams in the United Kingdom highlighted that these discussions were an exciting and important first step to institutionalize and integrate youth co-leadership across UNODC.
Key takeaways included the need for regional youth networks to better reflect different realities, the importance of using easy to understand, clear language and the necessity for transparent, inclusive processes when it comes to youth engagement. Also, that social media can be used for raising awareness among young people and involve influencers in the dialogue.
Participants also expressed their appreciation of the positive outcomes of the meeting such as engagement, networking, learning, opportunities, collaboration, or innovation among others. Elisa Orlando from the Italian NGO Libera and part of the UNODC YouthLED advisory board emphasized that this event was a meaningful platform for young people to engage and learn from each other on the topic of transnational organized crime as well as to contribute to fostering positive change on a local level.
As a follow-up to the Youth Consultation, UNODC, in coordination with the Government of Japan, will be hosting a side event during COP11 next week to promote further discussion on this topic. UNODC will use the outcome of the consultation to inform further meaningful youth engagement in its mandate areas. Click the link below for more information: https://forms.office.com/r/YfX7TELeVk.