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Established in 1992, the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY) is the United Nations General Assembly mandated, official, formal and self-organised space for children and youth to contribute to and engage in certain intergovernmental and allied policy processes at the United Nations.
The UN MGCY acts as a bridge between young people and the UN system in order to ensure their right to meaningful participation. It does so by engaging formal and informal communities of young people, in the form of child-led, youth-led, and child-and-youth-serving federations, unions, organisations, associations, councils, networks, clubs, movements, mechanisms, structures and other entities, as well as their members and individuals in the Design, Implementation, Monitoring, and Follow-Up & Review of sustainable development policies at all levels.
In order to effectively and meaningfully engage in the UN, the UN MGCY facilitates and conducts a number of online and offline activities in the following areas- Policy & Advocacy, Capacity Building, Youth Action, and Knowledge .
The UN MGCY seeks to:
(a) Facilitate the collective and meaningful participation of young people in official and formal avenues of policy design, implementation, monitoring, follow-up and review at all levels. These include, but are not limited to: intergovernmental deliberations (negotiations, reviews and reporting), substantive deliberations, briefings, special fora, UN reports and UN system-wide policy.
(b) Advise entities in the UN system's engagement and thematic architecture across the scope of their activities on policy and substantive matters related to youth priorities and processes of meaningful engagement.
(c) Facilitate the participation of young people in existing stakeholder structures, partnerships, platforms and mechanisms in the UN system and build interlinkages among key stakeholders active in the work of relevant processes.
The UN MGCY seeks to:
(a) Facilitate capacity building processes and activities for young people aimed at enhancing understanding, knowledge and skills in relation to sustainable development, meaningful engagement, the UN system and its various technical and political processes and organs.
The UN MGCY seeks to:
(a) Provide young people with a platform that encourages them to lead, join, showcase and share innovative and effective actions aimed at addressing the needs of all people and planet.
(b) Use youth-led initiatives to identify best practices, map sample activities across thematic and regional contexts and exemplify how youth actions contribute to the implementation, follow-up and review of targets, indicators, and deliverables across various sustainable development frameworks.
The UN MGCY seeks to:
(a) Provide young people a platform for dialogue to create an evidence base for best practices in design, implementation, monitoring, follow-up and review of sustainable development frameworks and affiliated processes. This includes the assessment of existing knowledge, the generation of new knowledge, the identification of emerging issues and effective use and dissemination of knowledge to inform policy processes. It should include inputs from formal, informal, traditional and indigenous knowledge streams.
Membership in UN MGCY is facilitated through an open process. Any formal or informal child-led, youth-led and child-and-youth-serving entities, as well as their members and individuals, may join.
All members of the UN MGCY must, first and foremost:
The membership is divided between the following categories:
The Major Group system was created following the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, also referred to as the Earth Summit.Through Section III of Agenda 21, one of the Earth Summit's outcome documents, the world's national governments formally recognized the role of all social groups in working towards sustainable development. To implement this, nine Major Groups were established to organize and channel inputs into intergovernmental processes established at the Summit. These include:
Two decades after the Earth Summit, the importance of effectively engaging these nine sectors of society was reaffirmed by the Rio+20 Conference. Its outcome document "The Future We Want" highlights the role that Major Groups can play in pursuing sustainable societies for future generations. In addition, governments invited other stakeholders to participate in UN processes related to sustainable development, which can be done through close collaboration with the Major Groups. These include:
The Major Group for Children and Youth initially provided input into a single process: The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). The CSD was mandated to monitor the implementation of goals and resolutions adopted the Earth Summit, and functioned as a commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. From 1992 until 2012, the Commission on Sustainable Development met annually to discuss and evaluate progress towards the objectives established at the Earth Summit.
In 2012, following the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the Commission on Sustainable Development was dissolved and its mandate transferred to the High Level Political Forum, along with the Major Group system of stakeholder participation. In light of the growing importance of sustainable development within the international system, Major Groups have been called upon by the United Nations General Assembly through various resolutions to participate in a growing number of additional processes.
Today, the UN Major Group for Children and Group is involved in over 20 engaged avenues in the United Nations. Additionally, the UN MGCY is recognized as a central player not only in intergovernmental negotiations, but also in the work of the UN in youth development. With the establishment of the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development(IANYD) Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth(OSGEY) and the expansion of the scope of the UN's focus on young people, the UN MGCY has positioned itself as a key partner in the UN's efforts in this area.
In addition to the governance requirements of mandated position (all of which are either elected or peer selected) that are clearly outlined in the UN MGCY Process and Procedures, the UN MGCY has obligations towards the UN system, some of which are enshrined in resolutions of international soft law. The UN MGCY is required to submit an annual Governance Reports to UN DESA-DSD, and as per paragraph 89 of the 2030 Agenda an annual report to the HLPF (High Level Political Forum) under the auspices of ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) and General Assembly .
The current range of formal engagement avenues within the UN include, but are not limited to, intergovernmental processes, policy processes, coordination mechanisms, partnerships, and UN entity specific engagement at all levels. Each UN process/avenue or cluster of UN processes/avenues have a corresponding working group.
The different external working groups of the UN MGCY correspond to the different formal UN processes that we are mandated to engage in. UN MGCY facilitates the participation of young people through the circle of policy design, implementation, monitoring, follow up and review. For each activity a different set of tools is used ranging from consultations to advocacy to action plans and formal monitoring.
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