Youth Highlights from ICSW2017 #CIVICUS Youth


On Monday 4th December 2017, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation celebrated the 8th Youth Assembly , under the theme "Our Planet. Our Struggles. Our Future" with almost 100 young people (30 and under) from civil society organisations, social movements, academia, ministries and media.

Delegates from 25 countries, travelled up to 15,000 km for a full day of very challenging conversations, networking activities, intercultural exchanges and artivism at the University of South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.

The Youth Assembly offered a space for young people to:

  • Meet, learn and share experiences with other young members of civil society and critical keys to empower youth work.
  • Explore how youth civil society can be strengthened to be more effective in the future and foster new partnerships.
  • Develop a clear set of recommendations to ICSW delegates and CIVICUS members.
Almost 50% of the participants came from Fiji, 27% from other Pacific countries and 26% from the rest of the world.

For most of YA2017 delegates, CIVICUS Youth Assembly 2017 was their first international youth meeting!

Since the call for ICSW and Youth Assembly event partners opened in April 2017, organisations like Observatory Oxfam Youth Quebec, FRIDA, Yole! Africa, UN Major Group Children and Youth proposed to work together with CIVICUS Youth Action Team to plan the Youth Assembly under a World Café format and facilitate 6 different round tables.

The discussions were open and free-flowing based on our facilitation principles and guidelines: https://tinyurl.com/y8gy23gp

6 simultaneous discussions on the role of youth in the implementation of sustainable development goals; youth participation; young women and climate change; youth, UNSCR 2250: Youth, Peace and Security; movement building; social enterprise


Those attending the Youth Assembly were not a representative group. As such, the outcome was not a youth declaration. Too many excellent declarations have been written previously and remain unacted upon. Instead, this Youth Assembly agreed in a set of recommendations that focus on ICSW delegates and CIVICUS members, who we believe can reasonably influence the way civil society operates – including other youth organisations and movements.

Recommendation #1

Fostering expression for peace Creating inclusive platforms to allow youth in all their diversity to hold decision-makers accountable through creative and innovative forms of expression (arts, sports and formal spaces) with effective follow-up mechanisms of the impact made for and by young people. #ICSW2017 #YouthAssembly

Recommendation #2

Giving youth power in the SDGs All stakeholders to guarantee that there is an equitable distribution of power in defining and critiquing the SDGs processes and priorities in local, national and global level, particularly for underrepresented groups including young people. #ICSW2017 #YouthAssembly

Recommendation #3

Practicing what we preach as civil society Inclusive representation of youth within organisations by ensuring that a minimum of 25% of decision-makers are under the age of 35, and that CIVICUS works in partnership with local actors to build capacity in order to implement this in the entire CIVICUS community. #ICSW2017 #YouthAssembly

Recommendation #4

Education to combat climate change Prioritise and invest in climate education for the development of educational initiatives such as a ‘climate change dictionary’ to translate and localise climate change terms for global communities. Climate change affects the majority, but climate knowledge is only known by a minority. #ICSW2017 #YouthAssembly

Recommendation #5

Using enterprise as a form of social change Peer to peer mentoring between NGOs and social enterprises at all levels so both parties can improve their efficiency, productivity, and knowledge. Every CIVICUS member will partner with at least one social enterprise to share resources and skills with an individual from the business/social enterprise sector. This individual will also create a report with recommendations for the NGO with emphasis on grassroots.

Recommendation #6

Rethinking how we build movements We demand accessibility of the international network through breaking down elite youth and the influence of gatekeepers through equal quotas of participation with marginalized populations; access to funds without discrimination; social inclusion sensitive budget; and encouraging youth employment within civil society. We would like to implement a platform where youth organizations can make themselves visible for donor connections. We recommend that CIVICUS create a platform for youth databases to share best practices.

During the days after the Youth Assembly, 5th to 8 December, young delegates shared these recommendation(s) during #ICSW2017 sessions, side events and World Assembly. Young members outside Fiji, also engaged with the Youth Assembly recommendations sharing them online using the hashtags #ICSW2017 #YouthAssembly

Making youth voices heard in Fiji Times.

Youth at ICSW

Before ICSW official opening, #CIVICUSyouth hosted an informal and intercultural welcoming evening with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Fiji and the University of South Pacific Students Association.

Global Village


On Day 1 of ICSW, the representatives of ICSW\local hosted a poster session to share their experience in bringing ICSW discussions closer to different regions of the world. 6 out of the 12 ICSW\local partners where youth-led organisations working in anti fracking campaigns, social media and technology trainings for young women, youth leadership in SDGs, storytelling workshops and peace building intergenerational dialogues.

Hashtag Generation (Sri Lanka); The Dais Foundation (India); Yole Africa! (DRC); Green Generation Foundation (Jordan); Cordatec (Colombia); Climate Tracker (Indonesia)

ICSW Concurrent Sessions

On day 2 of ICSW, CIVICUS Youth Working Group hosted a session under the programme track "Our Planet", titled: Youth Call to Action for Climate Justice. This 3 hour session gave the space to 6 young climate campaigners from Fiji, Indonesia, Australia, United States, Saint Lucia and Samoa to share their tactics, strategies and tips to raise awareness to act for the protection of our planet and the future of this generation.

The session framed the 6 calls to action into three different approaches:

  • Storytelling: the art of climate justice: young bloggers and youtubers influencing diverse audiences through the art of positive and engaging narratives. @ccmwright (Climate Tracker) @fruean.brianna (350.org Samoa)
  • Building solidarity: voice and action: young spokespersons, movement leaders inspiring community support on the streets for a cause that affects all. @Tufawon (Water Protectors and Divestment Movement NoDAPL) @CYENSLU (Chris Sealys) "1.5 to Stay Alive"
  • Taking space: young women from rural and small states or territories raise up their voices in high level negotiations and international discussions to represent their voices and their communities interests and priorities. @lisi.dimaicakau (Bua Urban Youth)
Young people calling for climate justice

Networking sessions

Day 3: #ICSWyouth in conversation with @HelenClarkNZ

Former UNDP administrator, Helen Clark, talked to young activists for a 45min open discussion and advised young people to see formal particiption structures as the way to create change and keep pushing to create without loosing hope.

Day 4: Conversation with @UNYouthEnvoy

Jaytathma Wickramanayake, UN Youth Envoy, invites #CIVICUSyouth to work together reaching out to more young people to keep promoting youth leadership in civil society and to take action at the local level.

World Assembly 2017 ‘Our Planet. Our Struggles. Our FUTURE’

Since 1993, CIVICUS World Assembly’s main objective is to create a space where a diversity of voices can be heard, experiences exchanged, successes and challenges discussed, and, most importantly, a space that leads to concrete ideas for a more equitable and just world. In 2017, two young civil society actors took the space at the panel: Re-imagining democracy: people voice and power and stressed for youth at the center of the future civil society movement & democracy.

Jayathma Wickramanayake (UN Youth Envoy); Sebastian Vielmas (student protest leader and CIVICUS YAT); Nicole Bieske (Amnesty International); Gerda Verburg (Coordinator Scaling Up Nutrition Movement & UN Asst SG). Moderator: Amitabh Behar (National Foundation for India)
"Youth movements are the way forward. Young people needs to be a part of both formal institutions, a part of decision making processes, and on the street. Organisations need to relook at their practices." @sebavielmas
"Civil society space is shrinking for everyone, but especially for young people who are asked to be silent or otherwise risk their lives to claim their space." @UNYouthEnvoy

Day 5 "Youth talanoa Reimagining Democracy". Following the World Assembly discussion, a group of 15 young people met for half day on Friday 8 December for a forward-looking conversation on the roles young people can play in reimagining democracy. Participants shared their analysis of the general challenges to democracy and possible solutions. The facilitation method for this session was inspired by the @MobilisationLab Campaign Accelerator toolkit.

#ICSW2017 youth stand in solidarity with comrades in Philippines to #FightTyranny and call to #StopLambadKillings

One of the main topics of discussion was the role of new technologies and internet in strengthening democracy and finding solutions to hold governments accountable, increase civic participation and build solidarity. This findings of this dialogue will be featured in the 2018 State of Civil Society Report - Reimaging Democracy.

In conclusion, ICSW was a very exciting and inspiring week for both youth and non-youth activists from the Pacific and around the world. Without the support of all CIVICUS members, ICSW delegates and partners, this great international civil society convening wouldn't have been possible. To all those who made part of this experience: THANK YOU!

To keep in touch with #CIVICUSyouth members news and opportunities:

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