The Age of Youth Engagement – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article was written exclusively for The European Sting by Mr. Frederick Putra Wijaya, a fifth year medical student from Indonesia. It is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), a cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor of The European Sting.

Only over a month ago we celebrated International Youth Day. The UN has understood the importance of youth participation as a valuable partner for government and society since 1965.[1] Youth participation itself has been recognized by various stakeholders.[2] In a small study conducted during the 66e World Health Assembly (WHA), youth participation was seen as accepted by Member States and urged them to include young people in their official delegations for future WSA.[3]

As future generations of this world, young people should have the right to participate in decision-making platforms. Not only will this create a more inclusive environment, but it will also increase awareness and interest among young people. A great example of youth activism is Malala Yousafzai who highlighted the importance of educating women. Likewise, Greta Thunberg pleaded for climate change mitigation. The two have led to a generational awareness of the urgency of the issue, established a foundation to magnify their work, and even collaborated with various stakeholders to truly make an impact on the world.[4],[5]

Earlier this year alone, Ms Thunberg, via FridaysForFuture, donated 100,000 euros to the WHO Foundation to support vaccine equity. With the stage given to voice her concerns, she is now helping people survive the pandemic.[6] Imagine how the impact on the health sector could be greater when more young people were given the opportunity to contribute with their ideas and actions.

Therefore, it is essential to give young people a platform to express their ideas. WHO, as the principal coordinator of global health affairs, set an example in establishing the Youth Council. It strives to welcome young people by including them in the discussion. While the practice was far from ideal, it was one of the first steps others could and should take.[7],[8] A similar effort by one of the other United Nations agencies, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is to capture the ideas of young people by implementing the United Nations Model Refugee Challenge (MUN). The agency calls for the youth-centric event, which simulates a United Nations meeting to discuss global issues, to collaborate and encourage the process. In the simulation which results in a document full of suggested solutions for the topic in question, UNHCR aims to collect the best ideas and then take them into account in their actual meetings. After taking this into consideration, workable solutions will be implemented in real situations. In short, including young people in decision-making brings a new perspective to a problem.[9]










About the Author

Frederick Putra Wijaya is a fifth year medical student from Indonesia. His interest includes the medical field and international relations. He has attended numerous Model United Nations conferences to channel his interests in global affairs, and more recently in policy making. He has done his research in the field of sports science and hopes to do more in the future.