Every 4 years UNICEF brings together different stakeholders to develop a new Strategic Plan – a document that guides the work of the organization and helps drive change for children. As part of this process, the organization connects with partners to include different perspectives into the proposal. This year, for the first time, UNICEF conducted a global consultation with children and young people to inform this process.
The views from children and young people – gathered via U-Report, Voices of Youth, and workshops - will help UNICEF design a Strategic Plan that’s children and youth powered.
So, what did young people say?
When it comes to education and skills, unsurprisingly young people feel that COVID-19 impacted the education of children negatively. Worryingly, depending on the platforms used for the consultation, between one-third and one-half of the respondents feel they don’t have the digital skills they need to succeed in life. This will need to be addressed to prevent a widening digital divide. Better access to technology, training for teachers, and updates to what is being taught are seen as urgent interventions for young people’s education and skills development.
“Access to tech and being taught digital skills would help more children do better at school. Our world is changing so schools should adapt” – via Voices of Youth
The majority of U-Report respondents (76%) feel they have a responsibility to tackle climate change. Overall, when asked what the most important actions are to fight climate change and reduce damage to the environment, the most popular answers were raising awareness; reducing waste, proper waste disposal and recycling; and individual action. Government accountability or action was mentioned less frequently. Education, raising awareness, using social media and running campaigns were identified as interventions to support children and young people to fight climate change.
Unfortunately, many young people feel there is stigma around mental health issues in their communities, but they see education and awareness-raising as the best approaches to fight it. Educational institutions and social media/digital channels were the two main channels or spaces where young people would like to learn about mental health. When asked about who they would like to learn about mental health from, professionals, NGOs/organizations emerged as the most popular.
Children and young people's response to this consultation was overwhelmingly positive and has galvanized them to be more involved in UNICEF’s work. We will seize this opportunity to make sure that your voices are heard and that they are an integral part of how the organisation addresses issues affecting the lives and futures of children and young people.
In order to create sustainable solutions for the achievement of the SDGs, UNICEF's new Strategic Plan must ensure that children and young people’s ideas shape the strategies and priorities of the organization, at the same level as contributions from other stakeholders and partners. UNCIEF is reaffirming its commitment to strengthen child and adolescent empowerment and participation in decision-making and implementation of UNICEF programmes.
Children and young people will become our most powerful partners in advocating for change and defining our ambitions until 2030.
Thank you to all young people who took part in the consultation.