Statement

Astana Declaration on "Investing in Youth. Leaving No One Behind"

23 October 2018

The International Conference on Investing in Youth “Leaving No One Behind” (hereafter called the “Conference”) was organized in Astana, Kazakhstan, on19 and 20 October 2018, by the Parliament (Majilis) and the Ministry of Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA), and supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) through the Government of Japan.  
 
It brought together more than 200 participants from parliaments, governments, international organizations, development banks, youth organizations and academia, involving 35 countries and 20 entities, to share and discuss good practices in policies, legislation and programmes aimed at young people who shape the present and future of our society. 
 
The Conference paid special attention to those young people who are vulnerable, or with special needs, such as unemployed youth, out-of-school/training youth, female youth, rural youth, youth infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, street youth, physically and mentally challenged youth, and youth in difficult circumstances (for example, those stateless, refugees, victims of trafficking and migrant workers), in the spirit of “leaving no one behind.”  
 
The Astana Declaration was adopted by consensus, building on related past outcome documents, notably the Bali Declaration (Global Youth Forum 2012) and the Colombo Declaration (World Conference on Youth 2014), and mindful of the United Nations Youth Strategy that was launched during the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018. 
 
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We, the Participants of the Conference, declare to support and take concerted actions, as appropriate, towards implementation of these recommendations at relevant local, sub-national, national, regional and global levels, as well as raise visibility of the need to invest in youth, through mass media, public sites and social media. 
 
1. Prioritize to promote multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral cooperation among parliamentarians, government officials, civil society organizations, private sector and youth groups to mainstream the agenda for adolescents and young people in the framework of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Beijing Platform for Action, and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). 
 
2. Empower young people, especially young women and girls and other vulnerable groups, through raising their awareness of and facilitating their access to available support and services in education, skills training, health services, employment and social activities. 
 
3. Promote education, not only to enhance prospects for gainful employment and sustained livelihood, but also to combat crime and violence and to promote pluralistic, democratic values and peace. 
 
 
4. Ensure availability of reliable, relevant and comparative data, and track progress, with regard to the development of effective policies and programs aimed at young people. 
 
5. Advocate for investment in youth as a major part of investment in human capital, aligned to the concept recently launched by the World Bank with the new Human Capital Index. 
 
Expanding Opportunities for Education and Employment of Youth and Improving Linkages and Transitions 
 
6. Invest more in improving the relevance and quality of education and vocational training to meet the changing competency demands of the labour market, which is increasingly influenced by the global economy and technological development, through: a) Enhancing education and training programmes that equip learners, including women and girls, with the appropriate skills, competencies and behaviours. b) Supporting and adapting the curricula of programmes and projects aimed at educating educators, trainers and social (psychological) service workers. 
 
7. Render teaching more attractive by raising salaries, strengthening opportunities for further training and career advancement, and improving working conditions and facilities. 
 
8. Ensure that educational systems do not contribute to the further marginalization of vulnerable youth groups, by introducing measures such as multilingual and multicultural education to increase inter-ethnic and intercultural understanding and communication.   
 
9. Improve the content, quality and accessibility of education in rural areas in order to close the rural-urban education gap and expand career options for rural youth. 
 
10. Support vulnerable youth, including those not in employment, education or training (NEET) and disabled youth, through developing a system of training in business skills and the basics of entrepreneurship, as well as involving them in socially useful activities. 
 
11. Ensure the right to decent work for young people through effective policies and programmes that generate employment, which is stable, safe, secure and non-discriminatory, and provides a decent wage and opportunities for career development. 
 
12. Commit to eliminate gender discrimination and ensure equal opportunity for young women and young men, and promote ways to keep girls in school even after pregnancy and childbirth. 
 
13. Foster efforts and supportive environments for entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized enterprises and startups, including a particular focus on women, to seize the opportunities of technological development and the digital economy. 
 
Improving Health and Well-Being of Youth through Universal Access to Health Information, Education and Services 
 
14. Make primary health care, especially in sexual and reproductive health services, including Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)/HIV/AIDS and sexuality education, more youth friendly and accessible to youth, and part of Universal Health Coverage. 
 
15. Monitor and evaluate universal access to a basic package of youth-friendly health services, including mental healthcare and sexual and reproductive health services, that are of high quality, integrated, equitable, comprehensive, affordable, needs- and rights-based, accessible, acceptable, confidential and free of stigma and discrimination for all young people. 
 
16. Address factors that prevent young people from being healthy and accessing health information and services, such as legal barriers, cultural and traditional practices, financial difficulties, physical conditions, to reduce the incidence of early marriage, unintended pregnancy, STIs including HIV, reckless behaviour, accidents and suicide. 
 
17. Ensure availability of, and access of young people in any location and situation to, a broad range of health information and education, especially sexual and reproductive health and mental health, through innovative ways and means, including the use of ICT, and through the education system. 
 
Promoting Full Participation of Youth in Civil, Political and Social Affairs 
 
18. Provide opportunities for targeted youth participation in decision-making processes at all levels to promote the interests of young people and make them more active politically. 
 
19. Promote multi-sectoral, inclusive involvement of youth in youth policy development that offers sustainable solutions and concrete actions. 
 
20. Create initiatives that specifically promote young women’s participation in civil, political and social affairs. 
 
Considering for Opportunities and Risks of Youth in the Context of Globalization 
 
21. Promote participation of youth in global and regional development and activities through increased mobility and connectivity of young entrepreneurs, students and researchers; exchange of ideas, values and cultures; and labour migration opportunities. 
 
22. Identify opportunities for regional, inter-country partnerships and finance programmes that promote youth employment, including in agriculture, and other economic and social benefits for win-win development cooperation. 
 
23. Make efforts to guarantee that young migrants enjoy full respect of their rights, including fair and equal treatment with others and the protection against, inter alia, violence, exploitation and discrimination (such as racism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia and cultural intolerance), and access to economic opportunities and social services, as appropriate. 
 
24. Commit to address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement, and effectively manage and deter irregular migration in a spirit of genuine partnership and shared responsibility, in full respect of international law and human rights obligations. 
 
25. Engage youth as active agents and innovators, including through ICT, in addressing urgent challenges such as those brought about by inequality, climate change and natural disasters, and the related need to manage natural resources in a more equitable and sustainable manner. 
 
In closing, we commend the host country Kazakhstan for declaring 2019 as the Year of Youth to promote investment in youth and encourage other countries to consider similar approaches to boost nation-wide coordinated efforts.