AEGEE present at the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul organized by UNFPA and UNECE




While hundreds of people were gathered in Istanbul’s Gezi Park – Taksim’s last remaining public park, fighting for their present day, in a neighboring district 40 young activists from diverse countries were taking part in a much less dangerous but still very important meeting aimed at building a more decent life for youth in the future.

While Gezi Park activists were using a pressure in an immediate and direct way, young activists of the Regional Youth Forum were planning and structuring how to use the international community’s pressure and direct it in a way more beneficial to the youth. The methods used are diverse, the short-term objectives too, but eventually all these actions lead to the same long-term result – establishment of a free, equal and democratic society where every individual equally possesses and fully enjoys all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

About the Regional Youth Forum

The Regional Youth Forum was organized by UNFPA Eastern Europe & Central Asia Regional Office (EECARO) and took place in Istanbul on 30-31 May. A coordinating body of the Forum, Regional Youth Leadership Group composed from representatives from ASTRA Youth, Choice, PETRI Sofia, Y-PEER, Y-SAFE, YouAct and Youth Coalition worked together to ensure a transparent and inclusive process to gather young people’s voices from the region.

The Forum brought up to 40 young people from UNECE Region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel). The participants were representing various youth organizations and networks working in the areas of youth health, women and gender issues, education (including comprehensive sexuality education), youth leadership and participation in decision making processes. As AEGEE’s Liaison Officer towards the United Nations, I had the big honor to be one of the nominees and participants of the Forum.

The objectives of the Regional Youth Forum

The objectives of the Regional Youth Forum were:
– to develop region-specific and action-oriented recommendations for achieving sustainable development taking into account its linkages with population dynamics, especially with regards to young people.
– to identify “burning” issues related to youth’s sexual and reproductive health and rights issues
– to draft recommendations on elimination of inequalities, promotion of social inclusion and realization of rights for youth, particularly in the ECE Region.

The Regional Youth Forum participants reflected on Global Youth Forum Bali Declaration and translated the global recommendation into actions, considering the regional context focusing on 3 main themes:

·Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development.

.Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course.

·Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.

Further steps in Geneva Conference

As a result of this 2-day meeting a Recommendation Document representing youth vision and development priorities was jointly developed, focusing on the above mentioned subjects.  This document together with the input from an online platform and the national consultations will be presented in the regional conference Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century, to be held in Geneva in July 1-2.

Background information on ICPD review process

UN General Assembly resolution 65/234 on the follow-up of the International Conference on Population and Development beyond 2014 (ICPD Beyond 2014), mandated the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to undertake, in consultation with Member States and in cooperation with the regional commissions and other relevant organizations, an operational review of the implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA) agreed by the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994.

The outcome of the review processes taking place at the regional level will feed into the UN Secretary-General’s global report, which will be considered in 2014 at the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) and at a Special Session of the UN General Assembly on ICPD Beyond 2014. During the GA Special Session, governments are expected to re-affirm at the highest political level their commitment to achieving the goals and objectives of the ICPD PoA.

 In the region comprising Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has coordinated the conduct of a global survey on ICPD PoA implementation in its Member States. Based on the survey results and available analytical studies, UNECE is preparing a report which will assess the progress made and identify good practices as well as constraints in implementing the ICPD PoA in the region. The report will be launched at the UNECE Regional Conference in July, which will mark the culmination of the review process in the region.

An organizing committee composed of representatives of UNECE, UNFPA’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office, the co-hosting government and civil society will lead the preparations for the conference.

Geneva Conference as the culmination of the ICPD review

“The conference Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century, to be held in Geneva on 1-2 July 2013 and organized by UNFPA and UNECE, will be the culmination of the ICPD review in the UNECE region. Based on the outcomes of the regional review, which will be launched at the conference, over 200-250 high-level experts from governments, civil society and academia, as well as members of parliaments and youth representatives will discuss strategies for action beyond 2014. They will assess the progress made towards achieving the Cairo goals, identify neglected areas and discuss what needs to be done to accelerate implementation and reduce inequalities.

The conference will:

  1. Discuss the status of implementation of the commitments made in Cairo in 1994 in the region and outline the persistent and emerging issues to be addressed in the area of population and development, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and empowerment of women.
  2. Highlight successful approaches (policies, strategies, programmes) and provide the basis for recommendations for scaling-up good practices within countries and across the region.
  3. Raise awareness about the ICPD Beyond 2014 process and possible synergies with the debate on the Post-2015 UN development agenda; mobilize political support, expand partnerships and urge allocation of adequate resources at the national and regional levels for the advancement of the ICPD agenda.


The Conference is also expected to make recommendations on future policy actions, synergies with the post-2015 UN Development agenda and on how to effectively place the rights, gender equality and empowerment of women, as well as of adolescents and youth, at the core of sustainable development.

Written by Anna Nikoghosyan, Society Without Violence NGO and Laia Garcia Montufo, Liaison Officer towards the United Nations.

Pictures provided by Sevara Khamidova and Laia Garcia Montufo.