In Mexico, youth leaders tackle problems in their communities

Photo: Fatima Vega/UNDP Mexico

"Together we can build alternative options to enable young people to steer clear of self-destructive behaviours," says Laura Santíz of the Operación Jovenarte organization in the Mexican state of Chiapas, in the south of the country. She was selected by #JuventudActúaMX to promote a campaign for prevention and raising awareness about addiction and violence, targeting vulnerable children and youth.

#JuventudActúaMX is a platform for young leaders that is based on a skills transfer model that aims to strengthen civic involvement to influence public policies. Ultimately this contributes to better and more lasting solutions to problems in their communities.

Highlights

  • The goal of # JuventudActúaMX is to build citizenship and capacity among young people so they can participate in policy-making.
  • The platform has provided training for 470 youth from 20 states in Mexico and has created a network of young leaders across the country.
  • Young people were invited to submit projects to address problems in their communities.

The initiative is part of a project initiated by the National Electoral Institute UNDP to strengthen the skills of youth and to establish a community that generates knowledge about building citizenship within the framework of the National Strategy for Civic Education.

Participants were selected through two national selection processes. Participants were asked to design and implement an advocacy strategy for influencing public policy based on a proposed solution to a local problem.

The platform has provided training to 470 young people in 20 states throughout Mexico and has created a network of leaders throughout the country. Participants have become agents of change within their respective communities, as well as role models for other young people.

The #JuventudActúaMX system consists of three stages. The first stage focuses on providing training in concepts and tools for influencing public policy. The second stage, entails monitoring the advocacy plans generated by young people in the field to assist them in the implementation phase. In the third stage, participants carry out assessments and identify best practices with reference to the previous stages.

Through the project, a "Community of Practice" of like-minded people has been created, consisting of representatives from the government, public and international organizations, civil society and academia. Their ultimate objective is to make recommendations to strengthen public policies for national civic education.

"#JuventudActúaMX was a mechanism for harnessing activities to particular objectives, since the work that we had previously been engaged in was not designed to influence public policy," says Victor Sántiz of Jovenarte.

Victor and his team believe in the power music to generate social and cultural change. As a result, Jovenarte offers free piano, guitar, keyboard and bass classes, as well as creating music groups and choirs, for children and young people from 8 to 26 years of age. With UNDP support, the proposals made by Jovenarte were endorsed and supported by politicians and representatives of government and civil society organizations in Chiapas.

Another success story is that of Ecocina: a programme of sustainable kitchens carried out by the Somos + Decididos Organization in the eastern state of Veracruz. The aim of the initiative is to implement a regional strategy for environmental education that includes the active participation of children, young people and adults in an effort to reduce pollution in the Papaloapan River.

With the support of municipalities and educational institutions, the organization promotes the proper management of hazardous wastes affecting water. This includes oil used in cooking, which is now used to make biodegradable soap.

Youth participation in public policy is an important part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to Katyna Argueta, UNDP Country Director in Mexico. "Goal 16 promotes efforts to build a citizenry that is interested and involved in public concerns; that requires accountability and proper performance from their representatives; and that is closely involved in developing solutions to the problems facing their communities," she says.

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