Summary report: A Stockholm+50 Youth Inclusion Strategy

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YOUTH INCLUSION STRATEGY SUMMARY REPORT

STOCKHOLM+50

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

The external evaluation was carried out by Åsa Gunvén, that is also the author of this summary report. The evaluation was commissioned by LSU - The National Council of Swedish Children and Youth Organizations, and financed by SIDA and the Nordic Council of Ministers.

INDEX INTRODUCTION 3 BACKGROUND .............................................................................................................................. 3 The evaluation assignment 3 Conceptual framework and evaluation model 4 Evaluation method ........................................................................................................................ 4 The Stockholm +50 process 4 EVALUATION FINDINGS ............................................................................................................... 5 LAYER A: A mandate for a high level of meaningful youth inclusion 6 LAYER B: Representation of global youth 6 LAYER C: Youth Autonomy 8 LAYER D: Youth policy development 9 LAYER E: A co-creation process ................................................................................................... 10 LEVEL F: Dissemination and follow-up 11
Abbreviation Definition IWGs Informal Working Groups (of the LDs) LDs Leadership Dialogues LSU The National Council of Swedish Children and Youth Organisations MGCY Major Group for Children and Youth
Stockholm +50 UNEP United Nations Environmental Programme
Youth Environmental Assembly
Youth Focus Group
Youth Task Force
S+50
YEA
YFG
YTF
2023

INTRODUCTION

Stockholm +50 (below S+50) set out to prioritise youth by ensuring a high level of meaningful youth inclusion.

This evaluation concludes that the youth inclusion model was successfully piloted in S+50.

Youth have been given access to decision-making and decision-makers through a variety of cocreation tools and supporting measures, such as human and financial resources. Representative structures and participatory tools have been created to provide youth with access to the S+50 process, in particular through the youth policy paper. There are even indicators that the youth inclusion strategy has contributed to lowering the threshold for youth participation in UN level processes.

“I have never seen anything as inclusive of youth”, one interviewee with insight to UN level processes comments, with reference to the overall S+50 process. Several interviewees also mention that the youth policy paper was endorsed in the final conclusions of the meeting as “an unprecedented achievement at a UN process”.

However, the evaluation also indicates several challenges. In particular the late start of the process as such, as well as the Youth Task Force (below YTF). Late confirmation on funding is highlighted as a hindering factor. Another challenge was that the roles and expectations remained unclear throughout the process. Last but not least, time, resources and tools were insufficient for an outreach that would be consistent with meaningful youth participation on a global level.

In sum, tools have been created and tested, but for a future process the challenge will be to scale up the youth inclusion and fine-tune its implementation.

BACKGROUND Evaluation assignment

This external evaluation was commissioned by the Swedish Youth Council (below LSU), and financed by SIDA and the Nordic Council of Ministers with the aim to capture what was learned through the S+50 process regarding youth inclusion. An external evaluator, Åsa Gunvén, was engaged and provided with the following evaluation questions;1

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1 Åsa Gunvén, a political scientist specialised in participation and co-creation processes for policy making on both practical and strategic level, was assigned as an external evaluator. www.gunven.eu

Evaluation questions

1. Goal achievement. Has the promise of a high and meaningful youth participation and influence been incorporated into the entire Stockholm 50+ process (before, during and after the international meeting)?

2. Prerequisites. Have the conditions (structures and enabling factors) for a high level of youth influence and participation been created? If/when they were missing, what were the consequences?

3. Inclusion. Was the opportunity for active participation equal from a Global North/Global South perspective?

Conceptual framework and evaluation model

The evaluation exercise started by developing an evaluation model in order to deal with a rather complex structure and process that could be expected to result in multi-layered outcomes.

The first task was to create a conceptual framework to define what is meant by a high and meaningful youth participation and influence. The conceptual framework, presented in Appendix 1, includes;

(I) The ladder of participation, Arnstein (1969);

(II) The concept of co-creation, with reference to Abrahamsson (2015)

(II) MGCY’s definition of youth participation

Based on this, an evaluation model was developed that covers six layers: mandate, representation, autonomy, policy development, co-creation, dissemination and follow-up. For each layer, two-three components/preconditions have been identified, and assessed in the evaluation. The evaluation model in Appendix 1 can also, potentially, be used as a model when designing future processes of meaningful youth inclusion.

Evaluation method

Different methodological tools were used in the evaluation process: text analysis, questionnaires,2 two focus groups and ten interviews. MGCY, LSU, UNEP as well as the Swedish government offices took part in the evaluation.

From the analysis of these initial evaluation activities, assumptions were then formed. Assumptions were confirmed/contradicted through in-depth interviews. Only assertions backed by evidence from at least two interviewees/respondents are included in the final report.

The evaluator has used the findings to assess whether or not change can be traced in the direction of meaningful youth engagement.

The Stockholm +50 process

The S+50 international meeting, took place 2-3 June 2022 in Stockholm and resulted in key recommendations to tackle the planetary crisis. It was coordinated by UNEP and Sweden, the host country, supported by the co-host country Kenya, and included three thematical Leadership Dialogues, each dealing with a specific thematic area.

2 The questioners notably only had 12 responses.

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Below is a graphical timeline of the key events of the S+50 process, highlighting the key moments of youth inclusion in the focal process as well as in the youth led process. Key to this process is the establishment of the YTF, that functioned as a facilitator for the youth inclusion process and its outputs. The YTF was coordinated by the Major Group of Children and Youth (below MGCY)3 together with LSU.

Evaluation findings

Below, the three main evaluation questions will be examined; Has the promise of a high and meaningful youth participation and influence in S+50 been fulfilled? Was it an inclusive process, and were the right prerequisites in place?

In the following sections, findings based on interviewees’ and respondents’ accounts will be assessed against each of the layers of the evaluation model.

Enabling factors and challenges will be identified and discussed, and suggestions on possible improvements for future processes will be provided.

In order to navigate the model, and to sum up the findings for each layer, the evaluator has also set a roughly estimated score. This is only a summary of the evaluation report, bringing together main findings and recommendations. The reader is invited to consult the main report, whenever more detail or background is needed.4

3 The Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) is the UN General Assembly-mandated and self-organised mechanism for young people to meaningfully engage in certain UN processes.

4 Evaluation report Youth Inclusion Stockholm +50 https://issuu.com/lsu_sverigesungdomsorganisationer/docs/ astockholm_50youthinclusionstrategy

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LAYER A: A mandate for a high level of meaningful youth inclusion

In sum, the inputs from respondents and interviewees suggests that an adequate and clear mandate was given for a meaningful participation and influence of youth. The host country supported this mandate proactively and politically from the very start of the process. The mandate was also supported through the allocation of funding, human resources and access to the process.

Below follows a summary of the main recommendations from the evaluation report, considering how the mandate given to youth can be further supported:

Roles and expectations should have been clarified at the very start of the process, for example through a written cooperation agreement and clearer descriptions of roles.

The role division between focal points should also have been clarified. In a future process preferably both of the co-host countries’ youth platforms should be included as supportive focal points with a defined role description. MGCY should be the main coordinator/focal point throughout, in order to ensure a quick and smooth start and long term ownership.

Provide a host country guide on youth inclusion, covering the UN process per se, the youth structures (such as MGCY), guiding principles of youth inclusion, Visa/accreditation timeline etc. Even with the best intentions, a host country might lack this knowledge.

Develop a member state guide on youth inclusion. The guide should outline, for instance how youth can be included in national policy/priority setting, the national delegations as well as in national level follow-up (development of action plans and implementation).

LAYER B: Representation of global youth

A meaningful youth inclusion has to reach beyond the international meeting room, and take on a broader scope, encompassing not only the youth networks involved. However, to create an adequate and legitimate structure that will represent a heterogenic and huge group such as youth is not an easy task.

Legitimate representation. On the whole, adequate tools for representation and inclusion of global youth were developed and used throughout S+50. The main elements of the youth representation and organisation are outlined in Figure 2 below.

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Indeed, a rather unique combination of participatory tools and representative structures were created where a youth policy paper, based on a universal (open) participatory process, functioned as the tool for representing and mainstreaming the voice of global youth. The YTF was set up to facilitate the youth inclusion process and to contribute by representing/advocating for the youth policy paper.

The participatory part of the structure also included the Youth Focus Group, a platform open for anyone that wanted to get involved in the S+50 process.

Inclusion. The tools and structures had a clear ambition to be inclusive and non-discriminatory. In particular the selection processes of the YTF members and youth speakers are described as rigorous and inclusive. The structures included new groups of youths at local and national level as well youth that were not associated with any specific organisation. At the same time, outreach was a major challenge. This was mainly due to shortage of time, restricted human and financial resources as well as limited internet coverage among certain groups of youth. The main discriminatory factor identified by the interviewees is the fact that many youths were hindered to attend due to the fact that they did not manage to get a Visa for Sweden.

Capacity building. A capacity building strategy was developed with the aim to strengthen the representation of youth. This included sessions at the start of consultations/meetings, the Youth Environmental Assembly ahead of the international meeting, as well as a Tool Kit and Educational Pack for local level capacity building. These measures strengthened the representation of youth, in terms of policy development, ownership, advocacy and

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Figure 2: Youth representation and organisation
The selection processes of the YTF members and youth speakers are described as rigorous and inclusive

dissemination.5 The youth process as such also empowered young change makers and advocates, and the evaluator has collected accounts of individual development journeys.

Below follows a summary of the main recommendations from the evaluation report, concerning how the representation of global youth can be further improved:

The role of YTF members reflecting other MGs could be strengthened and visualised further, in order to avoid any conflicting situation with other MGs as well as to strengthen synergies. This could, for instance, be done by establishing a MGs work stream inside the YTF.

There is a potential to develop and use more inclusive facilitation methods in order to mitigate inequalities posed by, for instance, language, rhetorical skills and previous experience. Such methods could, for example be (multilingual) aggregating tools such as online polls/Menti within and outside consultation meetings.

Children were largely absent in the S+50 process. The representation of children, could increase by the organisation of separate consultations for children with adequate language and/or methods.

Non-organised youth were included both through the youth structure as well as by UNEP directly. These kind of parallel structures for non-organised youth should be avoided. Non-organised youth should preferably only be represented through the main youth structure/policy deliberation/advocacy as this will strengthen their structural role.

Mitigate the digital barrier, by using, for instance, bulk-SMS-messaging and off-line activities.

LAYER C: Youth Autonomy

The democratic right to self-organisation is an intrinsic part of any meaningful inclusion. Youth have the knowledge, skills and ability to optimise their own participation and organisation.

The evaluation findings suggest that the youth inclusion was unconditioned, and treated as rights-based. Youth were given autonomy to self-organise their representation, process(es) and events. They could also formulate and communicate their messages freely, without fear of being excluded.

Youth also self-organised as they, according to interviewees, chose speakers and youth participants through rigorous and inclusive selection processes. Institutional partners describe the process as “impressive and inclusive”.

5 The evaluator cannot assess the reach of these activities, nor their possible result(s) due to insufficient access to data.

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” No challenges or recommendations have come to the fore regarding youth autonomy

No challenges or recommendations have come to the fore regarding youth autonomy. Below follows a summary of the main enabling factors:

• the rights-based youth inclusion, where funds and access to the process were, by and large, unconditioned;

• the experience and know-how of MGCY about youth engagement in UN level processes, and;

• the pre-existing trust and culture of open communication between the Swedish government offices and LSU.

LAYER D: Youth policy development

In order for youth to have an influence, a common youth policy has to be streamlined in the process. At the same time, as mentioned before, youth is not a homogeneous group. For this reason, common policy development that legitimately represents all youth is a challenge.

As highlighted in Layer B, the youth policy paper played a fundamental role in representing the voice of global youth in S+50. The youth policy was based on a series of four global virtual consultations involving hundreds of youths globally. A YTF work stream successfully facilitated the development of a youth policy paper through a collaborative online platform. This made an open deliberative process possible where youth could find common ground, develop and fine-tune policy and create ownership of the final youth policy demands.

Interviewees generally provide a common perception of “a successful policy deliberation process and a policy paper of high standards”. The fact that the paper made it all the way to the conclusions of the meeting is an indication of this.6

Below follows a summary of the main recommendations from the evaluation report, covering how the youth policy development can be further improved:

Establishing the YTF 6 months earlier would have allowed youth to have a wider outreach as well as to have their policy paper, and, indeed, their basis for representation, prepared already at the start of the S+50 policy process.

Methods and tools for outreach and inclusion need to be further strengthened. Suggestions brought forward in the evaluation, and outlined in other parts of the report, include: an earlier and stronger social media presence; regional outreach teams; making use of multilingual aggregating tools/methods, for instance online polls, and; while some funding was made available for consultants and consultation activities in S+50, there is a need to increase this funding further.

6 The youth policy paper was endorsed in recommendation 9, and recommendation 3 was, partly, based on the demands of youth.

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” A successful policy deliberation process and a policy paper of high standards

LAYER E: A co-creation process

Co-creation structures contribute to giving youth access to a process, and also provides them with a certain degree of influence. Co-creation is a process in which youth are included in the identification of the problem, the search for solutions, the negotiation and, finally, in the implementation of policy. Although it does not give youth a right to co-decision, it does ensure that youths´ input will be taken into serious consideration.

The evaluator’s overall impression is that the conditions that favour co-creation were present in S+50. Youth had easy access to decision-makers, in particular at the coordinating institutions. High profile decision-makers also visited the youth events and took part in meetings with youth. As a matter of fact, as many as 30% of the respondents believe youth were able to influence decision-making in S+50. One example is that youth managed to push for more speaking time than they were initially granted, another is the endorsement of the youth policy paper in the meeting conclusions.

Other important enabling factor were the human and financial resources allocated to youth. There was an open and regular communication between youth and the S+50 secretariats at UNEP and the host country. As part of prioritising youth, Sweden also dedicated 1.5 staff positions to youth inclusion. “Meaningful youth inclusion requires time from the side of the host country”, a host country representative sums up. It is also important to remember the other side of the coin; an ambitious model of co-creation necessitates a high commitment from youth volunteers. This was achieved in the S+50 process.

Below follows a summary of the main recommendations in the evaluation report, covering how the co-creation process can be further improved:

Scheduled coordination meetings between youth coordinators and the host country / UNEP respectively, would allow for more challenges and solutions regarding youth inclusion to be identified and resolved on time. Less frequent multi-institutional up-date meetings would also contribute positively, by facilitating the flow of information.

Feedback on procedural, logistical as well as policy decision-making is fundamental for accountability in a co-creation process, still it was largely missing in S+50. In a future process, feedback should be given on a regular basis, as it helps youth to understand that their demands were considered, also when not (fully) met.

Institutions should use the procedural input from youth to assess long term structural changes needed in order to further facilitate youths’ access to the process.

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In order to reach youth inclusively, more physical and multilingual outreach measures would need to be undertaken

Youth as a group is particularly vulnerable to last-minute-arrangements. When, for example accreditation, Visa or funding is confirmed late, the financial and organisational costs for youth and youth organisers will be high. One possible way to avoid this challenge is to set up a common timetable for accreditation and Visa at the beginning of the process, as well as a (semi-flexible) deadline for confirmation of financial travel contributions from donors.

In S+50 some youth could not access their travel reimbursement due to accounting requirements from donors. There is a need to move towards a flat rate financing model (also called unit travel contribution) in order to prevent situations like the one that occurred in S+50 from being repeated.

“We did not know if to plan for 10, 50 or 500 youth participants until a few weeks prior to the event”, one youth organiser explains.

LEVEL F: Dissemination and follow-up

Dissemination. The design of the structures and tools for the youth inclusion clearly had dissemination at the core. The youth and youth movements involved in, for instance, the YTF and the YFG, would mirror the process back to their networks and constituencies. Tools for outreach, such as the consultations and the capacity building tools also contributed to the dissemination. This included a Tool Kit to provide local youth with methods and tools that facilitated local and national involvement in the S+50

The extent of this outreach is difficult to assess with the data provided. Still, based on the accounts given regarding funding, events, consultations, social media strategies, etc., the picture that emerges is that dissemination remained rather limited. A future process should pay attention to seizing the potential of up scaling the outreach and impact of the tools created.

Follow up. While follow-up was not part of the S+50 process as such, the lack of strategies to involve youth in follow-up and implementation represents a missed opportunity. Young change makers were empowered throughout the process and ownership were built broadly among youth networks. When asked, none of the interviewees could provide examples of national level follow-up and implementation including youth, with one exception; Kenya.

Kenya – an inspirational example

One of the few good practices in the field of dissemination and follow-up identified in the evaluation is that of Kenya. At the international meeting in Stockholm the Kenyan youth delegation met with the president of Kenya. This encounter resulted in a meeting with the government a few weeks afterwards, which – in turn - led to a Youth Advisory Board on environmental policy being created. A structure aiming to give youth access to relevant

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We did not know if to plan for 10, 50 or 500 youth participants until a few weeks prior to the event

decision-makers ranging from local to national level was also established.

International level follow-up

Several interviewees mention the need to connect S+50 to future/parallel processes. Also the central role of MGCY to enable this cross fertilization has been highlighted. Indeed, several other international processes have been identified, with links to the S+50 youth inclusion process. These include; COP 27, Green Jobs for Youth Pact, Nordic Council of Ministers taking on the concept of ecocide etc.

Below follows a summary of the main recommendations from layer F in the evaluation report covering how the dissemination and follow-up can be strengthened in future processes:

Dissemination

While several tools and structures have been created, the evaluation identifies that there would have been a good potential to scale up the dissemination. To make this possible, the budget for youth inclusion would, however, need to be increased

The creation of regional outreach teams including, for example, national youth platforms, would increase the potential to promote the process, the consultations, etc., among youth at local and national levels.

Multilingual dissemination through social media needs to increase, using, for example, participatory tools such as online polls.

A youth media hub at the venue could be used for direct transmission of the reality and the demands of global youth into the international meeting, as well as to communicate what is happening at the meeting to young people across the world.

Youth’s role in the follow-up activities should be promoted. A few of the possible measures could be creating a follow-up team at the beginning of the process, providing co-funding for youth led implementation initiatives and sharing best practices of youth inclusion in the follow-up phase among member states.

The YTF mandate should be prolonged, and include a follow-up and wrap-up phase.

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In sum, the evaluator can conclude that youth participation and influence in S+50 has been relatively high as well as “meaningful”. The process has been relatively inclusive from a Global South/North perspective and youth have, on the whole, been given adequate preconditions to participate.

By giving each layer of the evaluation model a roughly estimated grade, as shown in the table below, we can see that the area of dissemination and follow-up is the one needing further strengthening.

A mandate for a high level of meaningful youth inclusion

Representation of global youth

Youth autonomy

Youth policy development

A co-creation process

Dissemination and follow-up

So, is there a potential to replicate the structures and processes that were developed in S+50? The overall result of the evaluation, as summed up in the grading table, suggests this.

End note – the S+50 legacy!?

Several interviewees point to the fact that a momentum was created in S+50 for streamlining youth inclusion in UN processes. The evaluation suggests that youth have positioned themselves as a highly valued and reliable partner. Also, a model/structure has manifested that can serve as the cornerstones for future youth inclusion in international processes.

There is a potential to build on all of the experiences and lessons learned in this process, and use them to scale up the outreach and inclusion further. The aim would be to contribute even stronger to positive change towards meaningful youth inclusion in UN level processes. Importantly, interviewees from UNEP express interest for using the format of the YTF in other UNEP/UN processes.

Maybe this is the time to present a paper/resolution with guiding principles of youth inclusion to the United Nations Environment Assembly? The evaluator suggests that Sweden, having hosted the S+50, would be best positioned to elaborate and present such a paper as a legacy of the process.

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S+50 record - satisfactory
S+50 record
- satisfactory
S+50 record
- good
S+50 record -
good
S+50 record -
satisfactory
S+50 record -
weak

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

The following conceptual framework ha s been developed in order to define what a a high and meaningful youth participation and influence is.

EVALUATION MODEL

Based on the conceptual framework, the following evaluation model has been defined for the purpose of this evaluation.

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