Regional Forum of Youths of Latin America and the Caribbean 2014
In 2013 the United Nations Secretary-General named Ahmad Alhendawi as his Envoy on Youth as a
measure for strengthening the UNS commitment to youth. At the same time he created a working group
with the task of preparing a UN System-Wide Action Plan on Youth that involves different System
agencies and defines the priority themes regarding labour as defined by youths around the world.
Based on this plan, the Regional Inter-Agency Group has prepared its own Strategic Plan, revealing the
aspects that are priority for the region.
In August 2013 UNFPA in the framework of the Forum on Investment in Youth, held on 12 August 2013
–International Youth Day– in Montevideo, Mr. Alhendawi proposed to the UNDG-LAC to have a regional
forum in 2014 as a mechanism for dialog and consultation with all the sectors interested in youth, and
understood as an important step for translating the results of this consultation with the young people
in the Post 2015 Development Agenda process.
In February 2014, on the one hand, other agencies of the United Nations decide to join this initiative
and, at the global level, the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations along with the
Envoy of Youth, launched a World Youth Alliance in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, bringing
together a broad spectrum of stakeholders to have a unified voice for the priorities of the youth in this
This global initiative joins regional initiatives already being promoted in the region, to collect the looks
and reviews of the youths. In this regard, during 2013 were held several consultation meetings
organized by the Ibero-American Youth Organization with the support of various agencies, including
UNFPA, UNDP and ECLAC, to build a regional Agenda for Development and Social Investment in Youth.
In this context, is proposed the implementation of the Regional Youth Forum for Latin America and the
Situation of adolescents and youths in the Region
The city events occurred during 2012 and 2013 in various Latin American countries, in which young
people have been starring, affirm the importance of redoubling efforts to face the persistent structural
problems in our societies, especially of inequality, but also an opportunity to rethink public policy and
democratic governance in the 21st century.
Young people represent 24.5% of the region’s total population (232 million). Around 156 million are
adolescents and youths between the ages of 15 and 29. Thirty-nine per cent of the young people are
living in poverty. Poverty and extreme poverty affect 25% of young people between 15 and 29. Juvenile
poverty in the rural area stands at 46%, and poverty in the urban area is 25.5%. In an ethnically- and
culturally-diverse region, indigenous youths represent of the entire young population and tend to live
in poverty and in rural areas.
According to ILO figures1, the precariousness of the labour insertion of youths remains persistent in the
region: average unemployment, at more than 14%, triples the rate for adults, and the situation is more
serious among women, the indigenous population and the Afro-descendant population. One in every
five youths in the region between the ages of 15 and 24, neither studies nor works. Among working
youths, a high percentage does so in precarious conditions: only 37% is affiliated with a health
insurance programme, and 29% in a pension programme; and more than half (55.6%) has an informal-
sector job. The negative data are more marked among lower-income youths, reflecting the region’s
characteristic inequality. There are 23 million youths in rural areas that are affected by fewer
opportunities for education and lower quality training. 40% of the impoverished population of Latin
America and the Caribbean has completed ninth grade, compared to 67% in the wealthier population.
Risk behaviour is much more frequent among adolescents with no school connection and a lesser
degree of schooling. In general terms, in Latin America only 38% of eighteen-year-olds attend school.
For every additional year of schooling, the fertility rates of Latin American adolescents decreases
between 5% and 10%. Only 18% of all Latin Americans have university education.
With respect to morbidity and mortality, a total of 287,920 deaths were registered among people
between 15 and 29 in the Latin American Region (2004). Homicide is one of the main causes of
mortality, with 100 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants between the ages of 15 and 29. The main causes of
mortality in the 15 to 24 year age group are external, including, accidents, homicides and suicides –
followed by sexually transmissible diseases (including infection with HIV/Aids), non-transmitted
diseases and complications of pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium.
Latin America and the Caribbean is the only large region in which some countries have increased
fertility among adolescents in the last 30 years of the Twentieth Century (Rodríguez, cited in ORAS
CONHU: 2009). Half the countries in the Americas Region present fertility rates among adolescents ages
15-19 that are higher than 72 per 1,000 women. Twenty per cent of the births in the Region
corresponded to women under 20, and it is estimated that 40% of the pregnancies were unplanned.
The fertility rates among adolescents living in poverty are three times higher than the rate for
adolescents not living in poverty.
In Latin America, births to adolescent women account for18 per cent of all births. The probabilities of a
young woman between 15 and 19 dying from causes related to pregnancy can be two to three times
higher than among women older than 20. In women under 14 the rate is almost double the rate
presented in other groups of adolescents (15-19 years) (Molina et.al: 2010), this is one of the main
impacts of early fertility and an unacceptable rights violation.
In this region some 10% of young women ages 15 to 19 are mothers, but there are great differences
among regions and countries. In the urban areas 9.1% of adolescent women are mothers, while in the
rural areas this percentage increases to 13.1%. (CEPAL, UNFPA: 2011)
Around 90% of the youths in Latin America and the Caribbean report knowing at least one
contraception method, but between 48% and 53% of sexually active youths never used contraceptives.
Among those that have used a contraceptive measure, approximately 40% did not do so regularly. In
2003, 45% (405) of all estimated deaths (900) from unsafe abortions were recorded among women
under the age of 24.
Trabajo Decente y Juventud en América Latina: Políticas para la acción, Oficina Regional, OIT, Diciembre
2013 (“Decent Work and Youth in Latin America: Policies for Action”).
In Latin America only 30% of young people between 15 and 24 can correctly identify ways to prevent
the sexual transmission of HIV, and reject erroneous concepts about how it is transmitted (2011). The
lack of quality information about health and sexual and reproductive rights is having serious
consequences for the HIV epidemic, as it is estimated 50% of the new HIV infections in our region occur
among youths between 15 and 242. Many of the youths living with HIV have no access to treatment, and
in fact do not know their serological status – sometimes because of legal barriers limiting their power
of consent for taking the HIV test and other prevention services.
Aids was responsible for 47% of the deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases in youths between 15
and 29 in the Americas Region. Of this figure, 67% corresponded to young men and 33% to young
women. UNAIDS 2012 indicates that the prevalence of HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean is 0.4,
and in persons between 15 and 24 it is 0.2. Sexually transmitted infections (STI) affect one out of every
20 adolescents each year; among these infections, the most frequent are chlamydia, gonorrhoea,
syphilis and trichomoniasis.
In a health survey performed in the Caribbean, approximately the same proportions of adolescent
women and men (5.0% and 4.5%, respectively) reported sexual experiences with partners of the same
sex, and more than 10% of the adolescents reported having doubts about their sexual orientation
(11.7% of the women and 13.3% of the men).
In a study of the Caribbean made in 2000, 40% of the women and 54% of the men between the ages of
12 and 18 consumed alcohol. 50% of the adolescents between 13 and 15 had consumed alcohol before
the age of 14. 40% of the students between 13 and 15 in 15 countries report having consumed at least
one cup of alcohol in the past 30 days, and more than 15% having become drunk at least one time in
their lives. One of every 10 youths between 16 and 18 said that they consumed four or more alcoholic
beverages at a time.
The consumption of tobacco in the last month among adolescents 13 to 17 years of age ranged between
2.2% and 38.7% in the study of several Latin American countries. 50% of the adolescents between 13
and 15 admit having smoked at least once before the age of 14.
In a study of 11 countries, it was found that 50% of the adolescents between 13 and 15 years of age
attending school report having consumed drugs at least once in their lives. The greatest percentage
was in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Jamaica (cannabis being the drug most consumed). In seven
Latin American countries, approximately one of every 10 adolescents between 13 and 16 affirmed
having consumed illicit drugs at least once in his/her life.
Regarding the youth participation, youth activism increased in the region in recent years tells us that
young people more than be heard, want to actively participate in the development of their societies. In
fact, the 1st Ibero-American Youth Survey (OIJ, 2013) shows that young people expect their
participation increase over the next five years. Consequently, if the institutions do not open formal
participatory spaces for young people, the protests will become as the most effective way to be heard
and the region waste an opportunity to capitalize on citizen empowerment and enhance the quality of
democratic governance. In this survey, the young people said the same thing that are saying in the
Evaluation of the implementation of the Ministerial Declaration “Prevention through Education”. Del Acuerdo a la
Acción: Avances en Latinoamérica y el Caribe. Federación Internacional de Planificación de la Familia (IPPF). 2012 (“From
Agreement to Action: Progress in Latin America and the Caribbean. International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
streets: they expect more in terms of reducing corruption, violence, inequality, progress on
environment and quality education.
The region is indebted to the youths. Often the young people do not feel represented in the discourses,
spaces and traditional political mechanisms; do not participate in decision-making spaces, or debates
on key political and socioeconomic issues even when they are sensitive to the demands of equity and
social justice, environmental protection and cultural diversity.
The forms of participation of young people have changed. Possibly many young people today do not
participate of the “imaginarium” of great social or political change of three or four decades ago, where
politics appeared as the privileged field of vital commitment. For some time the youth are more
distanced from the political system and electoral competition. In all countries of the region, without
exception, young people show less inclination to vote (LAPOP 2012 and UNDP 2013).
There is growing evidence of declining levels of participation of young people, not only in elections,
political parties and traditional social organizations, but also in the important process of generation of
public policies. In a review of the literature on youth UNESCO stresses that the vast majority of Latin
American and Caribbean youth is outside existing organizations and youth movements (between 5 and
20% depending on the country, the overwhelming majority being sports and religious organizations),
in what we might consider a transition to new forms of youth participation and to understand the same
participation and citizen engagement or act.
Improper or inadequate representation of the young people, their diversity also in processes and public
institutions and formal policies, such as elections, parliaments, public administration and political
parties, has an impact on the democratic quality of this institutions. This undoubtedly facilitated the
emergence of movements, expressions and non-traditional social organizations where youth play a key
leadership role; with new forms of communication, notice and participation, as the cases of the Chilean
Supporting the promotion of political participation of the youth, from their diversity is a fundamental
basis for strengthening the participation and access to the process of public policy in overcoming
persistent inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to figures surveyed by the
International Parliamentary Union and the UNDP Global Parliamentary Report of 2012, only 1.65% of
parliamentarians are between 20 and 29 years old, while 11.87% are between 30 and 39. 80% of
parliamentarians have more than 40 years. In 2013, UNDP through its Regional Office conducted a
survey of information on youth representation in parliaments in the region. Considering the lower
representatives of 30 years, a total of 68 men representatives (2.7% of total) and 32 female
representatives (1.30 %) under 30 in the 25 parliaments studied Latin America and the Caribbean is
In conclusion, the young people are under-represented in the parliaments of the region. Young people
can exercise the right to choose from 18 years and in some countries from 16 (Argentina, Brazil,
Ecuador and Nicaragua). However, from the perspective of the right to be elected, although in most
parliaments the older to enter fluctuates between 18 and 25 years, does not translate into a
representation according to the proportion of young people.
The construction and implementation of a youth agenda that addresses these challenges and to provide
structural responses for young people from areas such as parliaments is related to the quantity and
quality of participation and the nature of representation in these formal areas of the State.
To facilitate a space for dialog between adolescents and youths and the diverse sectors interested in the
Agenda and the themes for adolescents and youths in the region, in order to generate consensus that
lead to the formulation of recommendations that cover the priorities of the region for Post 2015
Agenda in Youth.
1. Recommendations for incorporating the needs and demands of the youth of the region in the
Post 2015 Development Agenda, and its links with the ICPD +20 and Beijing +20.
2. Alliances have been established among the participating governments, the civil society
organizations and cooperation agencies to promote the inclusion of the theme of youth on the
Regional and Global Agenda.
In order to identify the priority themes for the region, a consultation process will be implemented with
the participants prior to the forum, to reach a consensus on the indispensable themes to be addressed
and on which the region should make a pronouncement. This will make it possible to agree on the
themes that definitely will be taken to the face-to-face discussion at the Forum.
The regional Forum should have a strategic approach, so it is considered indispensable to identify those
themes with strategic vision that will propitiate transformations that can contribute to improving the
social, economic, political, environmental and/or cultural wellbeing of young people in the region,.
To this end, the following themes will figure as the basis for discussion the themes proposed for the
Post-2015 Development Agenda, among others: Eradicating poverty, Providing quality education and
learning from primary through tertiary, Empowering girls and women and achieving gender equity,
Guaranteeing healthy lives and universal access to health services (including sanitation), Creation of
jobs, sustainable subsistence, equitable growth and global commerce, Ensuring good government and
effective institutions, Ensuring peace and security in societies.
Secondly, the five themes from the United Nations’ System-Wide Action Plan for Youth (SWAP),
adopted in 2013, which include: Employment and entrepreneurship, Protection of citizen rights and
participation, Political inclusion, Education, including sexual and reproductive education, and Health.
It also considered the five priority areas of intervention of the Agenda for Development and Social
Investment in Youth: Job Placement, Education Media, Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and
Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Violence Prevention and Citizen Participation.
At the Forum, the participation of adolescent and youth representatives from the different sectors of
the region’s population will be prioritized, while other actors involved with the regional youth agenda
also will be invited:
a) Adolescents and youths representing national and regional networks. To this end, selection
criteria will be defined, taking into account – among other factors – the following: age, sex,
ethnicity, geographic sub region and thematic area of work.
b) Representatives of governmental mechanisms for youth
c) Representatives of offices for youth in the regional or sub-regional intergovernmental
organizations: OEA, SICA, IADB, OIJ, CARICOM, UNASUR, CELAC and others
d) Representatives of the private sector that work with young people: CAF, Microsoft and others
e) Representatives of non-governmental organizations working with young people in the region:
PLAN, CARE and others
f) Representatives of the Inter-Agency Group on Youth
g) Regional Directors of the UNS agencies.
Place and date
Quito, Ecuador, 12-14 May 2014.
The Forum will have an interactive, participatory and novel methodology that collects the experiences
from global and regional events that have been successful in their contents and results3. On one hand,
with respect to the themes on the agenda, these will be consulted with representatives from the diverse
sectors to be invited, as has been mentioned. Considering that the region already has an advanced
discussion of the Regional Agenda for Development and Social Investment in Youth, the agenda will be
a fundamental input for the Forum.
To maximize the interaction among the participants, the “world-café” format will be used: the themes
will be presented in plenary sessions with representatives of the diverse invited sectors. Then, the
participants will be divided into small groups, maintaining the diversity among multiple sectors, to
agree on the recommendations for each theme; and finally, the recommendations will be presented in
the plenary session for the final agreements.
Prior to the Forum, a Web page will be created, through which the documents will be shared and
consultations will be made on the themes and other important aspects, so that the dialog begins before
the face-to-face forum and also continues afterward through this medium.
Like the Bali Youth Forum held in December 2012 and the Beyond 2015 Summit held in San José de Costa Rica in