Building a Better World: Youth and Governance

By Haidy Ear-Dupuy

Young people today live in a difficult world.  There are more graduates than jobs in the market, the environment is more degraded than ever before, and competition to earn a living and have the same quality of life as the previous generation is increasingly difficult.

For young people who live in countries where government services do not always work the way they should, life is even tougher. Given that the young are vulnerable to decisions made by those governing them, what can they do to become more empowered so they can make a wider contribution to a better world?

One group of young people from the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance, decided to take their own stand in shaping their country’s future development path.  As a first step they recently held a summit to learn more about the challenges of governance, and to propose potential solutions.

The First Philippines Good Governance Summit held from 31st January to 3rd February, 2014 on the main University of Philippines campus in Quezon City, Manila produced a concept paper in which students laid out their vision and objectives for improved governance. Though there have been other such summits in the Philippines, this was the first youth-led event. The summit aimed to develop the capacity of youth to understand the governance issues facing the Philippines. It also sought to strengthen the network of young people who care about the topic, and to support their efforts to transform their communities.

During the summit, the students heard from government speakers, civil society groups and development institutions such as Asian Development Bank (ADB).  The 180 student participants from universities throughout the Philippines learned how to develop good governance proposals for the environment, health and ducation sectors, livelihood development, and human rights.  They also helped draw up a roadmap identifying activities which youth can carry out to contribute to the Philippines framework on good governance and anti-corruption. Proposals for projects were then presented to representatives of civil society for sharing and refinement. The students plan to meet again next year to compare notes and to find out how their community improvement projects have progressed.  

Inspired by the enthusiasm and commitment of the students, the ADB-based Asia Pacific Community of Practice-Managing for Development Results Secretariat,  shared and discussed components of its community of practice results-based public sector management systems.  These included the five components of management― planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.  The students learned about the importance of matching budgets to project plans, and that planning with end results in mind is one of the keys to achieving project objectives.  The summit participants also heard from, and discussed, the process of planning and project implementation with a Philippines Department of Budget and Management representative.  

Over the 4 days, young people heard from well-known champions of good governance such as Philippines Congresswoman Leni Robredo, representative of the 3rd congressional district of Camarines Sur. They also got fascinating insights from respected civil society leader Antonio Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga a socialized housing organization which seeks to encourage Filipinos to be ‘heroes’ and ‘role models’ who can contribute to building a better Philippines.