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Joe for World Youth Congress 2012

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The World Youth Congress series was born in 1997 following the frustrations of the Rio+5 Earth Summit conference which highlighted the fact that, far from increasing as the original Rio 1992 Earth Summit had proposed, Overseas Development Aid had, in fact dropped by 17% since 1992.

So the 1st World Youth Congress was conceived as a kind of Young People’s Earth Summit. However by the time it was finally held, in Hawaii in October 1999, it had developed into a much broader process of identifying priorities for the new Millennium. Entitled, the Millennium Young People’s Congress.

It got millions of young people around the world to identify ten key priorities for the new millennium and it turned out that eight of these closely mirrored the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, agreed a year later at the UN Millennium Summit.

World Youth Congress- 2010 Turkey
The 1st youth congress showed that young people wanted to be active in pursuit of these goals: they did not want to wait around for governments or others to do development for them: rather they wanted to get involved in doing development themselves.

So that 1st Congress coined the term Youth-led Sustainable Development, and launched Peace Child International’s (PCI) Be the Change! Youth-led programme – both of which have become central to the World Youth Congress Series.

Subsequent Congresses – in Morocco in 2003, Scotland in 2005, Quebec City, Canada in 2008 and Istanbul, Turkey in 2010 – have all discussed one main question:

“What is the most effective role that youth can play in development?”

Answers have included: peer-to-peer training, HIV-AIDS awareness raising, youth-led business startups; environmental awareness, protection and conservation; human rights policing; peacebuilding – and many, many other things: given a chance, the right training and investment, young people can contribute almost anything to the effort to eradicate poverty completely from our world.

Each Congress is unique: hosts are encouraged to stamp the identity and culture of their country on their congress and make it their own. But each has similar distinguishing features that give the World Youth Congress Series its own unique feel:

• The Congress is youth-run: Youth who work for both PCI and the local host group form the central part of decision-making on everything from the content of the programme, selection of the delegates, staffing of the Congress, to the choice of speakers at the plenaries and workshops.

• Action: A key part of every congress is Local Action Projects – where all delegates travel away from the Congress site and work with local people to build facilities, do an environmental clean-up or assist in some social programme. The time away from talking and being engaged in community action is where delegates and hosts bond. Action has defined the World Youth Congress Series.

• Actions Before and After the Congress: Just as delegates are urged to complete projects and experiments before the congress so that they have experiences to share with other delegates, so all delegates are expected to return and take actions using the knowledge they have gained. A key aspect this year, is creating action in the run up to Rio+20, so that us youth can show the UN and world governments that we are taking action and our prepared for a green economy. PCI also generates grants for 15-20 “Post-Congress Action projects” developed by delegates,that show real potential of creating positive community change.

• A strong cultural/arts programme: Peace Child International takes its name from the musical, Peace Child, which promotes solutions to global problems. Therefore, PCI seeks to promote all forms of communication to promote youth messages in the most powerful possible way. So bring your instruments, bring your dance, films, painting, poetry or stand-up comedy skills and be prepared to share them in the Congress Talent Shows and arts evenings.

• A friendly and cooperative environment generated by its young hosts and organisers: – where young people and experienced sustainability experts can meet on equal terms in informal round table discussions so that each can learn from each other. We’ve seen some of the best ideas come from informal discussions, the sharing of experiences, stories and inspirations of young activists working in their own communities.



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