Moa M Herrgård, organising Partner, Focal Point to the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD).

(Please note that some of Moa’s comments below are personal opinions and do not represent UN MGCY, but the facts on how MGCY is structured and how to engage with it is in line with the UN process.)

Paul Shaw (NAYD Steering Group)

Welcome to our latest Open Forum meeting in the CFP chat group. Our guest today is Moa M Herrgård, organising Partner, Focal Point to the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD). She will talk about and answer your questions on her role, especially with regard to the UN Major Group for Children and Youth and how you could/should get involved as a NAYD member/youth leader/activist. Thank you for sparing the time to chat with our CFPs Moa. You are very welcome to our group. Can you start by please telling us about your role at the IANYD.

Moa

UN MGCY was created in 1992 out of the Rio summit. It is an open platform which aims to facilitate children and youth engagement in intergovernmental processes. It is open for any youth, a place where we all work together and there are no leaders as such, just facilitators who are selected by the members. What we do is mainly online, so participation can be any distance! One can of course also attend meetings in person, but what is communicated in these are the result of what we all agreed online, so one can influence the policy by not being there in person.

Each UN process has one framework eg the Sendai Framework is the one for disaster resilience. New Urban Agenda is for urbanisation etc. In total MGCY follow 20 processes, and for each one there is a working group. Each working group is facilitated by 2 Global Focal Points(GFPs) and 2 Regional Focal Points(RFPs) per region. As a youth one can engage in the ones one wishes to. A lot of things are pretty technical and move fast,  which is unfortunately the speed in the UN system, and we cannot change that. If we don’t adapt to it we get behind, and the possibility of impact falls behind.

As GFPs and RFPs one needs to keep up the speed, but for members one does not need to. One can help out when one want…comment on policy, help make outreach and awareness material, hold consultation etc. In the face to face meetings, hosted by the UN we are one actor of many….the other actors are all the member states and then all the other Major Groups – there are 9 in total e.g. the woman, science and tech etc. I have been engaged for 5 years. Started in the Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group, and now since February am one of the Organising Partners.

There are 3 Organising Partners (OP). They oversee all the work. There is a lot to do though…and we want to do our best, but the day just have 24 hrs. In general most stuff in MGCY is possible and an amazing place to grow. One will though face challenges, because there is a lot to do, but from challenges one grows. My part is to ask and reach out! In total there are 6000+ organisations engaged and millions of individuals are following the lists. One registers online and it is free.

Frederick (CFP Ghana)

Are there African representatives on UN MGCY?

Moa

Yes there are many Africans and African youth organisations engaged. Did youu have any specific org in mind?

Frederick

I guess our noble NAYD is part too

Moa

Yes. Any other questions? What topics does NAYD work on?

Paul

NAYD was asked to join the Migration Coordination Team under Roxanne Tajbakhsh, Global Focal Point on Migration. I gave the link for the discussion paper to this group in March so CFPs could contribute.

Jonas (DCFP Ghana)

Talking about Africa rep, do you do country reps as well?

Moa

So the MGCY is for none state actors, no member state rep can engage that would be conflict of interest. We do though collaborate with countries. The same for other none state actors…if it is a university they are not really falling under youth-led, but we can collaborate with them.

Frederick

And, do you advertise your activities? If yes, through which channels pls?

Moa

We try to advertise as much as we can and find in line with the policy.

Frederick

And how can one take up a Position at UN-MGCY?

Moa

You can check out FB for some more info and also twitter. The website is getting updated too. There are regular calls out for positions. Sometimes there are call outs for joining selection teams, occasions when there is no election. Currently there is a call coming out for coordinator of each of the regions, by bringing all the process RFPs together. Also positions out for finance for development

Frederick

Does UN-MGCY carry out relevant projects as part of its activities?

Moa

We do projects in form of capacity building or trainings etc, and compile projects. But per-se we do not do community projects, but can partner with NGOs etc who do that. So happy to partner with you guys! But would be on a case to case basis.

Mini (CFP Libya)

This is Mohamed CFP in NAYD also RFP H3 ( MENA ) , would you please explain more about IANYD. I am really interesting to know more about it.

Moa

IANYD = Interagency Network for Youth Development. There are many interagency networks, which means that people from different UN entities work together. eg. on water, or on humanitarian response, on children health etc. IANYD is the one on youth issues. The ones being part of that one are UN entities youth focal points, and they collaborate on youth issues. MGCY is the stand in youth entity in their meetings and we collaborate outside these meetings too e.g. just establish principles for meaningful youth engagement, plan international youth Day celebrations, or ECOSOC youth forum etc. Most importantly they help us to address issues when UN system or member states do not treat youth engaged in the UN well

Jonas

I want to believe there are volunteers as well?

Moa

Yes all people in MGCY are volunteers. Trying to set up a secretariat, but not there yet.

Frederick

The Facebook name is also UN-MGCY I guess

Moa

The FB name is UN Major Group for Children and Youth

Paul

You mention there are many African representatives at UN MGCY. Do you have any sense of how much they get involved as a proportion of the overall input? eg Are their voices heard proportionately?

Moa

Yes you should engage in the ICM in Marrakesh!! Roxanne is putting together a team now, check in with her. It would though be intensive work in that team, but a lot of bonding. I believe the African voices who are engaged are heard. But what would be great is to have more African comments on policy, and host consultations. Consultations are often hosted by Africans though to be honest they do not often comment on policy…e.g. when statements are drafted, or policy brief created, or when UN ask us to send comments on reports etc…and in the end that is the policy we need to influence. But it is the same in all regions, that not to many people comment on the policy…and I get it, it is hard and takes time..and we all do it voluntarily. We try to incorporate the recommendations the members share through consultations etc, but even more effective if people comment themselves

Paul

On-line communication is a major issue in Africa – is the meeting in Marrakesh virtual or actually in Marrakesh?

Moa

It is in person but there is a lot to do online too in preparations, and all the work matters, effective prep. work has even more impact then just going to a meeting.

Paul

thanks and true …however, do the attendant representatives get their travel and accommodation paid?

Moa

It depends on the work we do together before. How well do we prepare and create a buzz and fundraise. It is collective work and the output is all based upon how much we do together. The GFPs try to fundraise, but they need the help of all members to do that as well as elsewhere. The registration is open for Marrakesh

Jonas

That’s to say that we’re failing in that regard. We must be up and doing. Is there any way your outfit can help NAYD to contribute meaningfully in terms of policy, and to be the voice of the voiceless and vulnerable in Africa?

Moa

Yes pls you are more than welcome to engage!!I would suggest that you register in the working group which interest you and follow the work there, ask questions, and contribute where you can. You can always contact the RFPs for each working group if you want the latest update on what they are up to

Do you have any more questions, or anything you want to share about your work?

Paul

I have been chatting to the UN Youth envoy and have invited her to the chat. I didn’t realise that all her support was voluntary – I wrongly assumed the UN would financially support her role. Money is a big issue for our members. Lets say one of our CFPs had been active in one of the UN MGCY group and was chosen to attend (say in Marrakesh). How would the fundraising work?

Moa

She is not volunteer. She is paid. Not representing youth in the UN, but advising the UN SG on youth issues. She is part of the IANYD. The fundraising can either be that one person thmselves ask NGOs, MSs, Unis etc for money…or they contribute to the work of the migration MGCY working group and that enhance the chances that the GFPs get positive rsult when they fundraise. The more and better work the whole working rgoup does, the larger chance that a MS fund. That is though not the reason for working, but the impact of ones work is the driving force!

Paul

I mean her support staff are volunteers?

Moa

Some of her support staff are paid and some are unpaid interns.

Mini

There are many organizations in MGCY! How can these organizations (eg, NAYD) contribute to policy Process work in a continuous approach ?

Moa

So one regularly comment on policy – both statements, position papers, hold consultations, comment on reports etc. eg lets say that animal rights should be improved and labour rights too…you can comment on that in documents mentioned. Though one also need to add it in a relevant part of a text…integrate it in a way which makes sense

Paul

How effectively do you think are these policies are transferred to the grass roots in African rural communities

Moa

It takes time. But in the end yes. I do not see any options…one can of course also engage in local or national policy, that works too, but if one wants the system wide effect one can either go into academia and change the evidence (or not change it, but contribute to evidence backing up the theories) or go into policy. The other platforms I would say are all short term…yes private sector but per-se that is not a system wide effect…it is within one company and that comes and goes…and that will also have the capitalistic back-up which challenges the possibility to stay true to the policy. That is my opinion though, not MGCYs. But yes one can discuss the impact of policy…which is a discussion never ending… and any solutions to bring the policy closer to impact in community are usually welcomed.

Jonas

What would you say is the cause of the delay in transferring these policies to the rural folks in Africa?

Moa

It is a delay in all parts of the world I would say…per-se Africa develop much much faster than Europe ever did. To compare countries on status in progress is not fair. What is important is that it goes in right direction and the speed of that direction, and in that sense Africa is in many ways way ahead! Not all countries though…which comes down to challenging leaderships in the countries or climate change effects which stops it or AIDS etc.

You should check out this website: https://www.gapminder.org/. You will see what I just described. But yes compared to Europe or some parts of Asia Africa is behind in policy implementation. But it is all different starting points. It is like comparing someone who can cook 10 dishes and one who can cook 1. Even if within 1 week the one who could cook 10 now can cook 11, and the one who cooked one now can cook 6…the second will seem to be behind, but per say the speed of learning is way ahead! Does that makes sense? Now we are beyond MGCY per say though…you can change cooking to number of SDG targets implemented…

Birhane (CFP Ethiopia)

What do you think are some of the ways the youth should take to solve the problem of policy implementation in Africa?

Moa

I think the best way is actually to engage in the national politics…change the leadership to be more democratic, less corruption, using the money for education instead of wars…easier said than done though…because no matter who good the UN policy is a member state can block it if they want. What I usually say to everyone, one is nothing alone…and one need to always work as a collective and build capacity within each other…so that is one thing

Birhane

I think there should be a mechanism by which the UN enforces the policies upon the member states if its for the good of the country and the people

Moa

I agree with you Birhane but the question is who has the right to do that…? And also the state has its sovereignty…

Birhane

I think the UN has to take the responsibility

Moa

But it is run by the member states. Many people in the UN want to do more, the staff there, but they need to follow what the member states tells them to do. If my friend ask her to watch her kid…even if I think the kid should have icecream after dinner it is not my call to do, it is the parent…and I need to follow. What I can do is though try to convince the parent to change her mind. Which is what the UN does, and try to. The parent is a member state. The reason why I suggest you engage with the national politics is because the UN already try to push the ones who block better development – what one needs is also people who push in the country or push within one company who e.g. pollutes.

Birhane

If its the case its all on us the youth and CSOs who should follow the implementation of the policies and hold our government responsible

Moa

Yes you can push you governments to do better to implement because you are the ones who put them in office, they are there to serve you. They do not need to serve the UN as such. Does that makes sense?

Birhane

It does. Thank you Moa

Jonas

I’m inclined to say that our leaders are not doing enough, and there is little or no commitment on their part to implement these policies. We the youth in Africa must rise up to the occasion to be at par with the rest of the world. Some of our leaders in Africa are suffering from what I call “Visionary Disease”. We must continue to demand accountability and transparency in the Democratic governance space. There are many complex problems we have created ourselves through our actions and inactions. It’s time to challenge the status quo and to redefine the way we do things, by holding our respective governments accountable.

Moa

I agree with you Jonas. One can always engage in all levels

Paul

Let me wrap up by thanking Moa for giving her time to us this afternoon. It is greatly appreciated and has opened our eyes about how UN MGCY operates. In short, getting involved with UN MGCY will impact your local community in time

The above conversation took place on the NAYD Country Focal Point facebook chat group 27th July 2018