UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador HRH Crown Princess of Norway, Mette-Marit met with young people at a CrowdOutAIDS Online Town Hall held at UNAIDS headquarters in Geneva. CrowdOutAIDS is the UNAIDS Secretariat’s online project to crowdsource the development of a new UNAIDS strategy on young people. The strategy aims to outline a new approach to working young people.
“Creating a space of young people to have real decision-making power and influence has always been an issue close to my heart,” said the Crown Princess Mette-Marit. “I am so happy to see that this agenda taken seriously by UNAIDS.”
Joining her at a panel discussion, members of the strategy drafting committee Ms Medha Sharma and Mr Manuel Rosas-Vázquez, and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé answered questions submitted by young people through facebook and twitter about the CrowdOutAIDS initiative, UNAIDS commitment on working with young people and the young people’s role in the AIDS response.
“CrowdOutAIDS has built an objective strategy team from the ground up—instead of relying on professional strategy specialists,” said Ms Sharma to the question of how confident she is of the final strategy document. “The end result will be a youth policy that is more meaningful and effective for the young people it covers.”
Moderated by MTV Africa VJ, Vanessa Mdee, the Town Hall was key milestone in the CrowdOutAIDS project to give participants around the world the space to challenge UNAIDS on how to take the final strategy forward.
“We are opening our doors for genuine engagement with young people and I am very pleased with the response,” said Mr Sidibé. “UNAIDS will fully implement this strategy and I know that the young people will not let us fail.”
Earlier in the day, the drafting committee representatives briefed HRH Mette-Marit on their perspectives on young people’s participation. They highlighted the need to ensure sustainability of youth engagement in UNAIDS policy and programme implementation and provided suggestions on how it can be achieved at country and regional level.
Active Engagement of young people in CrowdOutAIDS
Eight regional online forums under the auspices of the CrowdOutAIDS project have given young people the opportunity to share their concerns on youth leadership and youth engagement in the AIDS response. In addition, young people in countries and communities where internet penetration is low, were able to take part in offline Open Forums organized by youth volunteers.
More than 5 000 young people shared their perspectives—online and offline. These ideas and suggestions are now being consolidated and used to shape the UNAIDS young people strategy. A special online solutions application, managed by young people themselves, has been prepared to enable them to monitor progress and shape the strategy in real time.
Clustered around seven strategic priority areas, young people have provided more than 220 ideas via this ‘solutions’ application.
The next steps
Ms Sharma and Mr Rosas-Vázquez, along with other eight CrowdOutAIDS Drafting Committee members will develop the suggestions submitted via the solutions app into the new strategy.
Through a customized online application, the drafting committee will work collaboratively to finalize the strategy with input from young people around the world.
According to Mr Rosas-Vazquez, the process has been a unique way to re-establish the importance of engaging youth, and putting them at the heart of every agenda and allow them to take the lead. “This initiative has reached to the grassroot system and provided platform to put their opinion in strategy making.”
Ms Medha Sharma added, “as a young person it is fascinating to be part of the policy making process. CrowdOutAIDS has broken stereotypes in the UN system.”
The New Generation Leadership Strategy 2012-2015 will be the first ever crowdsourced strategy in the history of the UN.
Culled from UNAIDS.ORG