With such a potential, it is essential that the voices and interests of young people, in all their diversity, are reflected in EU policies. In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the European Consensus on Development and recent Council Conclusions on youth in external action, the importance of youth engagement is a cross-cutting issue. The EU has recognised that “young people are agents of development and change and, as such, are essential contributors to the 2030 Agenda”. Sustainable development will not be reached without investing in children and young people and actively working with and involving them in decision-making, in order to address the challenges they face.
The EU is already working with young people, for example in Africa through initiatives such as the EU-AU Youth Coordination Hub, unlocking their potential to contribute positively to sustainable development and ensuring that it invests in youth-led solutions. However, the EU would greatly benefit from stepping up the visibility, and scope and impact of its actions by establishing mechanisms that bring the needs and rights of young people at the heart of its decision-making on external action.
Plan International believes in young people’s potential as agents of change and in the necessity to involve them in policy and decision making that impacts their lives. By developing mechanisms for youth participation and engagement in EU external action, the EU can ensure youth-led, innovative solutions that contribute positively towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. We believe that the creation of an EU Youth Envoy working on EU external action would be an important step to adequately represent the rights and needs of young people.