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Best Practices for Engaging Youth as Partners in Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Sustainable Development Efforts

Indian Journal of Sustainable Development

Volume 1 Issue 2

Published: 2015
Author(s) Name: Keith G. Diem | Author(s) Affiliation: Professor,Dept of Family,Youth,&Community Sciences&Asst Director, United States of America (USA)
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Abstract

Youth are commonly referred to as important assets to society and as leaders of the future. In reality, they can be leaders of today, as well as an important component to decision-making at the family and community levels and critical to social, environmental, and economic viability. But this requires viewing them as partners in a shared process focused on their interest, knowledge, and abilities instead of as a token voice. This notion is sometimes contradictory to historical societal norms that may be based on seniority, class, or even gender. However, not only is it a right of youth to actively participate in society, it is important for building a generation of citizens who are able to be productive in a global economy and leaders of sustainable development. Ultimately, the success of youth and the success of communities are intertwined and best practice involves implementation of positive youth development and youth participation concepts in order for both youth and communities to thrive. Despite challenges, obstacles, and effort needed, the value of engaging youth in sustainable development shows promise for youth and communities. Not only is it an international policy declaration and a moral imperative, it is truly the right thing to do. The future of a society, and indeed the world, depends on adults working together with youth as representatives of the future. Utilizing a program development strategy and a logic model approach to jointly determine outcomes and impacts to be achieved can help guide the process for mutual benefit. This article explains potential challenges and barriers as well as recommendations of best practices identified in the literature for overcoming obstacles to achieving these outcomes through (1) positive youth development, (2) meaningful participation of youth at all levels, (3) youth-adult partnerships as a potential mechanism for sustainable development, and (4) a suggested planning process that makes it easier to evaluate how well results have been achieved.

Keywords: Youth-Adult Partnerships, Positive Youth Development, Youth Participation, People-Centered Development, Community Development

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