Aotearoa Youth Declaration is UN Youth’s flagship civics education conference. The conference aims to equip participating youth from all across Aotearoa with a deeper understanding of their place within their community and the ways they can actively contribute to it. Participants are guided by facilitators in small groups (focus groups), each centered around a different policy area. Over four days, they participate in workshops, visit various businesses and organisations, as well as hear from industry experts to further engage with their chosen topic. Participants then develop policy recommendations on the issues and areas most important to them. These are brought together in the Youth Declaration – a document that represents the youth voice.
More broadly, Aotearoa Youth Declaration is also about introducing young people to new experiences, new people and new opportunities. The event is not just for enthusiastic debaters or youth council members, but rather is for all young people from every corner of society. The conference helps participants find the issues they are passionate about, and shows them how they can express that passion through advocacy, volunteering or general community involvement. It is important to empower young New Zealanders to become conscientious citizens, aware of the influence their voice has upon the country. By challenging participants to tackle Aotearoa’s biggest social, economic, and cultural issues, the conference provides young New Zealanders with the motivation to create positive change.
Aotearoa Youth Declaration will be held on the 12 to 15th of April 2018 at The University of Auckland. Participant applications will open on the 29th of January and close on the 23rd of February, including scholarship and Regional Delegation applications.
In 2018, we are increasing participant numbers to 224 by introducing two new focus groups (to be announced soon!). This ensures that we have a representative group of rangatahi. We will be needing over 60 volunteers and leaders for our Regional Delegation, so stayed tuned for applications opening early January!
Role of the Youth Declaration and the Conference
As a culmination of the opinions, ideas and passions of young New Zealanders, the Youth Declaration is sent to Members of Parliament, local government bodies, NGOs, businesses, sponsors and other decision makers.
In 2018, the conference will focus on empowering rangatahi to be active citizens in their communities by giving them the tools and confidence to do so. Participants will not only explore the challenges Aotearoa faces and create solutions, they will also gain new understandings of what it means to be a young person in Aotearoa. Workshops will explore identity, privilege, oppression, civic processes and tikanga principles.
By using the Declaration as a tool, young New Zealanders will be shown how to engage with their elected representatives, make submissions and foster change in their communities.
You can find an online version of the Youth Declaration 2017 here.