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The Youth of the Americas reaffirm their commitment to the Summit of the Americas

Washington, D.C. – International Youth Day offers an opportunity to celebrate the enthusiasm and determination of the youth of the Americas in the face of significant challenges throughout the region. In recognition of this special day, the Youth Network of the Americas is delighted to present the Cartagena Action Plan, the fruit of the 3rd Young Americas Forum that took place at the 6th Summit of the Americas just over a year ago in Colombia.

The Cartagena Action Plan reaffirms young people's right to participate in shaping public policy at all levels of government, in all countries of the Americas. It recognizes that youth play an essential role in enabling meaningful social inclusion and sustainable economic development. It was crafted on a collaborative basis by youth representatives that participated in the Summit and it mandates the creation of a Steering Committee that will support the ambitious activities described in the plan.

The Young Americas Forum, organized by the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), is a permanent space for young people to actively participate in the process associated with the Summit of the Americas, expressing their recommendations to leaders from governments and civil society, thereby helping member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) to define their priorities. Valerie Lorena, the Executive Director of the YABT, states, "the Action Plan that is being presented today is another step in a long process of articulating youth participation in the Americas, a process that began with the 1st Young Americas Forum in Argentina in 2005 and that continues through to today through a variety of activities. I would like to highlight that many young people have made significant contributions to make this program a reality."

Jaimie Boyd, a young Canadian who, together with other youth, actively took part in creating the Cartagena Action Plan explained, "My participation in the Summit of the Americas through the Young Americas Forum began in late 2011 when I applied to the Talent and Innovation Challenges of the Americas (TIC Americas). I saw the online youth dialogue and was excited to participate in the Summit when I arrived in Cartagena."

Ms. Boyd's account is a telling example of how young entrepreneurs, along with youth from a variety of backgrounds and sectors, are able to work together in spite of great distances and diverse cultural backgrounds. They collaborate for the sake of a shared goal: to make the Americas more equitable and to create more opportunities for youth. Ms. Boyd commented, "I participated in the creation of the Youth Declaration at the Summit and it was really inspiring to see the enthusiasm and the commitment of my colleagues. I continue to be active in the Youth Network of the Americas that we founded at the Summit, coordinating youth from across the Americas and encouraging active citizenship."

Andres Dominguez, from Argentina, was one of the forum's two spokespeople at the Inter-American Dialogue with Governments at the Summit in Cartagena. He claims that "what we are building here, with support from the YABT and the OAS, is truly innovative. We are making great progress in a process of regional integration for an important sector of civil society, namely youth. Our organization is autonomous and our work goes far beyond the reach of governments; we see ourselves as a strategic ally for promoting sustainable development."

In 2013, 73.4 million youth are expected to be unemployed around the world, 3.5 million more than in 2007 and 0.8 million more than in 2011. In 2018, the global youth unemployment rate is expected to reach 12.8 per cent, according to a May 2013 study by the International Labour Organization entitled "Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013." The young people who participated in the forum, along with the organizations that support them, are intimately aware of the difficulties that face our region and the challenges that youth must overcome.

"We decided to stop complaining and to start looking for answers by building a collaborative tool that helps provide real solutions. We fully expect this process to be complicated and difficult but we have already taken the first steps towards a true Youth Network of the Americas," added Mr. Dominguez in Buenos Aires.

The Cartagena Action Plan is available HERE. A report on activities that have taken place since the forum is available on the forum's website: www.youngamericasforum.net. The Youth Network of the Americas welcomes the opportunity to work with young people and youth organizations, as well as to create strategic partnerships throughout the Americas to advance the Cartagena Action Plan. Youth leaders everywhere in the Americas are invited to join this youth movement and to participate in the lead-up to the 4th Young Americas Forum that will take place in April 2015 in Panama.

Notes for editors:

• The Youth Network of the Americas was founded in April 2012 at the 6th Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia. It is a voluntary organization that is coordinated by a steering committee made up of young leaders, in coordination with the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT).
• It emerged from a participatory process involving approximately 3,500 young people from across the American continent (North, Central and South America). The commitment to build the network was made in the Cartagena Youth Declaration.
• Youth from across the Americas can join the network by registering with the 3rd Young Americas Forum group, housed within the YABTLinks online community: www.yabtlinks.net.

This press release was prepared by the YABT in collaboration with Jaimie Boyd and Andres Dominguez. For more information, please write to info@yabt.net.


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