A Primer: the Young Americas Forum

Washington DC, August 12, 2014⎯ The Young Americas Forum (YAF) is a program created by the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) over a decade ago that aims to provide a space to connect young people in the Americas with policy-makers at the Heads of State level during the process of the Summits of the Americas. The Summit of the Americas is an ongoing process undertaken by the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), which takes place every three years in order to determine priorities and mandates for the hemispheric agenda at the level of presidents and Heads of State of the Member States of the OAS.

In 2005 during the IV Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the youth was invited for the first time to take part in the Civil Society Dialogue with their Head of States. In this occasion, young people gave their recommendations to their governments when defining the priorities and mandates for the Member States of the OAS. Since then, YABT through the YAF has increased its efforts to guarantee this space for the youth in this ongoing dialogue between the Civil Society and the Heads of States in the Americas.

In 2009, more than four hundred young representatives of youth groups, associations and student movements across the continent attended to the YAF as part of the V Summit of the Americas. Starting this year, the youth was finally able to establish itself as a social actor with the same rights to voice than the other members of the Civil Society who participate in the Civil Society Dialogue within the framework of the Summit of the Americas and the General Assembly of the OAS.

In 2012, the III YAF took place in Cartagena, Colombia. In this opportunity, 200 youth representatives from 22 countries from the Western Hemisphere participated in this 3-day event. All participants engaged in 4 working groups: (1) Education and Innovation; (2) Migration and Economics; (3) Hemispheric Security; (4) Multilateral Governance. To learn more in depth about the agreed commitments for each of the axes as part of monitoring the YAF III, see webinar.

During the last Summit of the Americas and Plan of Action of Cartagena, young people committed to work together with governments and take responsibility to address the continent's challenges. For this reason, they decided to continue their activities across the virtual community YABT Links open to all young people in the Americas to contribute in the Activity Log for the 4 working groups.

The YABT, who has supported the young people participating in the YAF, calls out all young people in the Americas to start and continue participating in the virtual community to record their activities. Prior to the XLIV OAS General Assembly in 2014, 50 activities carried out by youth organizations related to the 4 working groups were in the YAF III Registry Log.

In 2014, as a prelude to the XLIV OAS General Assembly, the Youth Dialogue took place in the framework of the activities of TIC Americas. After the plenary, the young attendees from various countries established a working group to discuss and develop an executive report to be presented during the Civil Society Dialogue with the Heads of Delegation to the OAS General. The result of these working was presented as the DDeclaration of Paraguay.

Next year, the young participants of the YAF will represent the Youth during the Civil Society Dialogue for its forth-consecutive time. For this reason, YABT encourages young people to be proactive more than ever when it comes to meeting their commitments and come up with new compromises. Next year represents a key year for the youth worldwide given two main reasons. First of all, 2015 is the deadline year for meeting the Millennium Development Goals. And secondly, young people have the opportunity to influence decision makers in defining the priorities of hemispheric and global agenda to promote socioeconomic development in the Americas.

For these reasons, YABT invites all youth in the Americas to join our virtual community to start preparing the next steps for the next Summit of the Americas. This includes their contribution to the Activity Log. YABT and OAS are confident that by working hand in hand with youth organizations, groups, and associations, young people in the Americas will be able to empower themselves and defend their interests more effectively.