Thursday, 4 December 2014

A critical moment to engage young people

This post is by Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat. In 2013, the Commonwealth launched the first-ever global Youth Development Index, which measures the status of young people in 170 countries around the world. This blog has been posted as part of the Wikiprogress discussion on "Youth well-being: measuring what matters!

As the world deliberates on the post-2015 agenda, there has never been a more critical moment to engage young people. The inclusion of youth perspectives, and the energy, diversity and talent that young people bring, is a clear-cut imperative. Young people have an incredible amount to offer to national development processes, and, with the right support and opportunities, can be empowered to realise their full potential.

Today, almost half of the world’s population (48.9%, according to Euromonitor International) is aged under 30, and the proportion is generally much higher in developing countries. It is therefore essential that young people’s capabilities are leveraged and they are recognised as drivers of sustainable development.



At the Commonwealth, we strongly believe that the empowerment of young people is a vital and valuable investment. Through the Commonwealth Youth Programme, we have spent the past 40 years providing assistance to our 53 member governments in the creation and implementation of youth-related policies and programmes.

We provide technical assistance for the development of national youth policies, and advocate for the professionalisation of youth development work. We are also actively committed to expanding the ways in which young people can engage with decision-makers, and in facilitating the establishment of youth-led organisations and networks.

However, attempting to achieve these targets without a baseline from which to measure progress would be a futile endeavour. Accordingly, in 2013 we launched the first ever global Youth Development Index (YDI), a tool to track global progress on youth development in 170 countries.

The YDI is a composite measure that includes basic needs such as health, nutrition and adequate education, along with secondary needs such as political, economic and social participation. It was formulated to help governments, decision-makers and stakeholders identify and learn from areas of success, pinpoint priority investment areas, and track progress over time.

It gauges youth development according to 15 indicators that are grouped into five key domains: Education, Health and Well-being, Employment, Civic Participation and Political Participation. Similar to the Human Development Index, the YDI calculates a score for each country between 0–1 that indicates the national average. It then groups countries into three key categories: High youth development, Medium youth development and Low youth development.

Since its launch, the YDI has also become a basis for data advocacy, highlighting the importance of gathering national statistics on key indicators of youth development. Its findings also underscore the complex and multiple issues facing young people today, and the urgent need to create enabling youth structures and environments.

Young people will be both the heirs and the champions of the post-2015 agenda. We must commit to investing in their participation and empowerment; otherwise, we run the risk of silencing and constraining this powerful generation.

Katherine Ellis is Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat. With over 20 years in the private, public and civil society sectors with extensive expertise in youth development, organizational leadership and cross-sectoral collaboration, she is responsible for promoting the social, political and economic empowerment of young people across the 53 Commonwealth member countries.’


Follow @ComSecKatherine @ComSecYouth 

Join the conversation on 



Tuesday, 2 December 2014

How to help the world's youth

This post is by Nicole Goldin, director for Youth, Prosperity, and Security Initiative with the Project on Prosperity and Development at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and director of the Global Youth Wellbeing Index project in partnership with the International Youth Foundation. This blog has been posted as part of the Wikiprogress discussion on "Youth well-being: measuring what matters!". 

Brimming with talent and ideas, today’s youth – the largest and most connected generation in human history – are creating a new global reality, and charting an unprecedented course for themselves and their communities. They are defending democracy, promoting peace,  and with an enterprising spirit, desperately wanting  the opportunity to work hard, build a sustainable livelihood and live up to their potential.  Today’s young people are an inspired generation, poised to drive global prosperity and security not only for themselves and their families today, but their communities and nations for generations to come.
But we know demography is not destiny.  Their fate may be challenged.  The promise in youth is often overshadowed – and in some cases undermined – by absent or ineffective policies, weak systems, poor infrastructure, unsatisfactory education and training, or inadequate investments and avenues of participation that limit the opportunities youth deserve and the world demands.
Fundamentally, however, young people’s needs and aspirations have too often gone largely unnoticed or unheard.  Why? One reason is that we simply don’t have a strong enough understanding of how they are doing or feeling.
Video

To help shed light on how young people are faring around the world, and in turn increase youth-centered policy dialogue and investments, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF), with principal support form Hilton Worldwide, have today launched the inaugural Global Youth Wellbeing Index in hopes of facilitating thought and action by, with, and in the interests of today’s youth.
The index measures youth wellbeing based on 40 indicators comprising six interconnected domains in 30 countries, covering 70 percent of the world’s young people. And there were some striking lessons [findings?]:
– A large majority of the world’s young people are experiencing lower levels of wellbeing – 85 percent of the youth represented in our Index live in countries with below average scores overall.
– Even where young people are doing relatively well, they still face specific challenges and limitations. Spanish youth, for example, face economic exclusion, while Saudi young people grapple with safety and security.
– Though young people may not be thriving overall, they display success in certain areas. Colombian and Ugandan youth, for example, top the ranks in terms of citizen participation.
– Across countries, average scores indicate young people faring best in health, weakest in economic opportunity, and with the most variance in information and communications technology.
There are roughly 1.8 billion young people on the planet, living for the most part in emerging and developing economies and fragile states.  Yet these global youth are not a monolithic group, and face cultural, geographic, economic, and political constraints and opportunities.
While we anticipate young people, policy makers, donors and investors will largely respond within their immediate communities and countries, we hope this index will also help stimulate discussion about the global economic, social and political agenda (including the Post 2015 development framework) for young people, allowing for recommendations that can be acted upon both globally and locally – anywhere and everywhere.
So where should action start? The index also highlights the need to elevate and better connect and coordinate policies and investments concerning young people, and for closer attention to youth satisfaction and aspirations, increasing youth participation and elevating youth voices by highlighting the opinions and outlook of young people themselves.
Of course, providing sufficient opportunities, addressing needs, meeting aspirations and supporting success among millions of youth is a real challenge – especially for still cash-strapped governments still trying to steer their economies back toward sustainable growth. But the potential payoff is huge – not least economically.  Now is the time to invest in strategic policies, partnerships and programs that engage and equip youth to be productive and realize their ambitions.
If this transformative generation can be given the tools it needs to thrive, then we will all be the better off for it.

Nicole Goldin
Twitter @nicolegoldin and @csis

This blog was first posted on CNN, here

Join the discussion on "Youth well-being: measuring what matters!", click here. 



Monday, 24 November 2014

Wikiprogress focus on youth well-being

In the coming months, Wikiprogress activities will focus on youth well-being, as part of the Web-COSI vision of “statistics for all”, starting with an online discussion taking part from December 1-15, and the launch of a new Wikiprogress Youth Portal. Kate Scrivens, Wikiprogress Manager, gives an overview of the upcoming events and initiatives.

There are more youth living in the world today than at any other time in human history. There are now an unprecedented 1.8 billion adolescents and young adults aged between 10 and 24, making up over a quarter of the world population, according to a special report published by the United Nations Population Fund this year. However, despite making up such a significant share of the world population, young people’s voices are not always heard in measurement and policy debates, where the concerns of older adults often predominate. Finding ways to better integrate young people’s concerns into policy, and ensure their well-being needs are being met are therefore pressing goals for society. As the UN report puts it, “A world in which a quarter of humanity is without full enjoyment of rights is a world without the basic building blocks for change and progress.”

In the coming months, Wikiprogress will be focusing on youth well-being, in order to explore the concerns of the younger generation in more depth and also to improve the way that the site caters to young people’s needs. This is part of Wikiprogress’ involvement with the EC-funded Web-COSI project, which aims to improve the involvement of all parts of society with well-being and progress statistics.



Online discussion
From the 1-15 December, we will be hosting an online discussion on youth well-being, inspired by the European launch of the Global Youth Wellbeing Index this week. Its aims will be to map out the main issues for youth well-being and to identify some of the key organisations and initiatives working in the field. The discussion will address the following broad questions:

  • What is the state of youth well-being today?
  • What are the most important dimensions of well-being for young people?
  • What policies have had the most impact on youth well-being in the past? Provide examples of successful initiatives.
  • How can we ensure that young people’s needs are reflected in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals agenda?


We are looking to hear from students and young people from around the world, to gain different perspectives on this issue, as well as to hear from experts and practitioners who have experience and knowledge of youth well-being.

Online debate in early 2015
Following on from the online discussion in December, Wikiprogress intends to pick up on some of the key issues and explore them at more length and in more depth through an online debate being hosted in partnership with CATALYST – another EC-funded project. The debate will run for several weeks, gathering input to feed into a report on priorities for youth well-being and policy that can be presented to decision makers. We’ll be writing more about this debate as the time gets closer.



Wikiprogress Youth Portal & Wikiprogress University
In order to make the content on Wikiprogress more accessible and relevant for young people, we have developed a new Youth Portal on the site. The aim of this portal is to bring together resources that are of particular interest to young people who want to find out more about measures and policies to foster well-being and social progress. It will highlight videos and other accessible content, as well as putting a spotlight on activities and initiatives working on youth issues. It will also bring together information on opportunities to get more involved in the activities and events of the Wikiprogress community, such as Youth Conferences and volunteering and interning opportunities.

A major part of the Youth Portal is the new Wikiprogress University programme. Wikiprogress University is intended to be an online space where students can:

  • Find out about opportunities to contribute to the platform, or establish a partnership between their university and Wikiprogress.
  • Access educational resources that explain about key issues in the area of well-being and progress measurement.
  • Find out about courses and training that would allow them to develop useful skills for working in the fields of well-being policy, research or advocacy.


Wikiprogress University and the Youth Portal are both works in progress, and we welcome ideas and suggestions to make the projects as useful to young people as possible, and we will welcome all contributions to our online discussion and upcoming debate.


If you are interested in finding out more about any of these activities, if you work for an organisation that specialises in youth issues, if you are a student or administrator for a course on well-being or progress issues, or if you have any ideas for content or news to put on our Youth Portal and social media sites (Facebook and Twitter) we would love to hear from you – just email info@wikiprogress.org or tweet us @wikiprogress.

Kate Scrivens

Friday, 21 November 2014

A chance to design the way forward for education

This blog by Michael Ward of the OECD invites you to provide your views, on a set of indicators for measuring progress towards education targets for sustainable development, post 2015.

Want to get involved in shaping the future of education? As the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) reach their 2015 deadline, several international groups, including the OECD, are formulating a new set of goals and targets for sustainable development… and we’d like to know what you think.






The 
Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG), a UN-appointed task force, has proposed an agenda for development that includes goals for education, and educators from around the world have developed a set of specific education and learning targets that are closely aligned with that agenda.

The task now is to develop indicators so that progress towards achieving these new goals can be monitored.

To that end, a Technical Advisory Group, co-ordinated by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and including members from the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, the OECD, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank, has proposed a set of indicators, which you can find 
here.


We’d like to hear from you

What do you think about the indicators?

Until 30 January 2015 you are invited to comment on each indicator or to respond to these questions:

1. For each target, does the report identify the best indicators that are most aligned with the concept and are already being tracked in a large number of countries?

2. What new indicators could be developed to be more closely aligned with the proposed targets and have the potential to be globally comparable?

3. For each target, please identify or propose the two most important indicators.

4. Are there key issues that the document has not addressed satisfactorily or other issues that also need to be taken into consideration?

Please visit the 
UIS website for details on how to submit your comments.

To ensure that the consultation is open to as many people as possible, we invite you to spread the word among your networks and social media, referencing #Education2015.

After 30 January 2015, the Technical Advisory Group will review the list of indicators based on your feedback. The final proposal will be submitted for endorsement at the World Education Forum in Incheon (Korea) in May 2015. The final documents will then form the basis of the discussions at the UN General Assembly in September 2015 on the new UN goals for education.

Join the discussion on twitter via @EFAReport @UNESCO @WBEducation @OECD_Edu @UNICEFEducation and #Education2015.


by Michael Ward
Senior Policy Analyst, Development Co-operation Directorate

This post first appeared on the OECD Educationtoday blog site, here

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Wellbeing of Nations: Meaning, Motive and Measurement

This blog by Paul Allin, Professor at Imperial College London, discusses a new book that explores the meaning of wellbeing and why it should be measured, the authors look at over 200 recent initiatives and summarise the different approaches taken in this area. 


The desire to explore and understand the territory ‘beyond GDP’ is gaining momentum all the time as we seek more relevant and meaningful measures of wellbeing and progress.  The topic features not only in ProgBlog and WikiProgress, but increasingly in social media channels and in many on-line forums.  A new book “The Wellbeing of Nations” reflects this interest and records many local, national and cross-national initiatives to build measures of wellbeing and progress that go beyond purely economic measures, and the headline measures of GDP and GNP in particular.




The authors, statisticians based at Imperial College London, take the view that national wellbeing – how a country is doing – embraces quality of life, the state of the environment, development and sustainability, as well as economic performance. All  these aspects are important to people, so measures of real progress need these dimensions. (The same applies if attention is focussed on a city or a neighbourhood, rather than on the nation overall).

The book opens by asking what is national wellbeing, and why measure it?  These are not new questions, as we can see from a “short” history of national wellbeing and its measurement, from Plato in Ancient Greece through to current developments to replace the Millennium Development Goals.
Looking across some 200 or more recent initiatives, several different broad approaches to measuring wellbeing and progress are summarised in the book.  These range from making greater use of the full national economic accounts, including with extensions beyond the core accounts, through various sets of social and environmental indicators.  Survey-based data on personal wellbeing are also now being collected by some national statistical offices and other organisations, either as a new overall measures of wellbeing, or to include with other measures.

However, the fundamental point for the authors is to ask what we mean by wellbeing and progress, and how we will use new measures.  A key message is that we are still learning how to use wider measures in public policy, business decision-making and in everyday life.  Until we establish the requirement for new measures, we are unlikely to be able to construct measures that will last in the way that GDP has done.
                



The UK Measuring National Well-being programme is featured as a case-study in the book. The authors are two of the technical advisors to the ONS work. In the photo above, author Paul Allin (on the left) is seen presenting a copy of the book to Glenn Everett, his successor as director of the programme, during a recent meeting in the UK Office for National Statistics. 

The authors conclude that there is much research and development around the world to help understand what people mean by wellbeing and by wider measures of progress.  There are a variety of motives for going ‘beyond GDP’, including concerns about sustainability as well as current quality of life.  Robust and valid measures are starting to appear.

However, the authors report that they “have not found full, clear or widely accepted” answers about the meaning of national wellbeing, the motive for measuring it, and how it should be measured.  There is more to be done and more that should be done including, they suggest, widening the system of national accounts (SNA) to become a system of national wellbeing accounts.  This should be taken forward by the international organisations involved in SNA working with the many other organisations and developers who already have a stake in all of this.


Allin P. and Hand D.J. (2014) "The Wellbeing of Nations: Meaning, Motive andMeasurement", John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. 

Paul Allin, CStat, FRSA
Visiting Professor, Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London


Monday, 17 November 2014

A data revolution for children

Katell Le Goulven, the Chief of Policy Planning at UNICEF Headquarters explains why data is central to UNICEF's work for children , as illustrated by the stories in this blog. 
  • The field of early childhood development is being redesigned thanks to recent evidence from neuroscience demonstrating how nature and nurture are inextricably linked during the early development of the human brain.

In Rukoro neighbourhood, Musanze, Rwanda, cell phones powered RapidSMS are being used to register and monitor expecting mothers. If there are any questions, complications or updates, health workers simply send a text to their local clinic and receive a response within minutes. 
©
 UNICEF/RWAA2011-00482/Noorani

 Learn more about UNICEF’s work on data for children and MICS.

Investments in data on children were bolstered a couple of decades ago by the World Summit for Children where world leaders committed to “establish appropriate mechanisms for the regular and timely collection, analysis and publication of data required to monitor relevant social indicators relating to the well-being of children”. And, later on, by the Millennium Development Goals.
Advancements since then have been significant. In 1990, 29 low- and middle-income countries had trend data on child malnutrition. Today 107 do, largely thanks to data collected via increasingly sophisticated household surveys.
More recently, the digital age ushered forth an era when the amount of data is rising exponentially; new data analytics allow us to answer different types of questions than was previously possible; and new technologies helps us do some of what we do, faster and cheaper.
Mobile data helped report 18 million births in Nigeria in 2011-12, and bring down the time to trace and reunify disaster-affected families in Uganda from weeks to hours. SMS surveys have helped reduce malaria medicine stock-outs by 80% in Uganda and young people are engaging in shaping decision making on HIV/AIDS in Zambia.

The recently coined “data revolution” refers to the potential of this ever-expanding and evolving data ecosystem to improve human well-being. These opportunities, however, will not automatically translate into something positive for all. To be sure, the data revolution also raises fundamental rights issues related, for instance, to having an identity and being accounted for, privacy, legitimate use, ownership, participation, and equity and non-discrimination.
These, in turn, question the suitability of our current data policies and governance structures.
People’s well-being should be at the heart of how these policies evolve. And particular attention should be given to children and youth because many risks affect them more specifically. Across the world, children and youth are growing up in a digital world, and data about them will be tracked for much of their lives. While data may help save the lives of many, others may not be aware that their interaction with technology is creating profiles that could impact their future.
A few days ago, I participated in a meeting of experts asked to prepare a report on the data revolution for the UN Secretary-General. During two days, specialists from the statistics, big data, open data, academia and the UN worlds brainstormed on the definition of the “data revolution” and its role to fill in persisting data gaps, to enhance accountability, to track progress towards sustainable development and to empower people.
While participants brought different perspectives to the table, all acknowledged the role of data as a key driver of sustainable development. Consultations held on the second day put the spotlight on the role of data for fostering openness and inclusion and unpacked the opportunities and challenges associated with big data.
These consultations continue online. You can join the conversation and help design a data revolution that works for the benefits of today’s children and of future generations. Submit your ideas here.
Katell Le Goulven is the Chief of Policy Planning at UNICEF Headquarters in New York.
This blog first appeared on the UNICEF Connect blog, here