4Youth, the global youth consortium, meets to reflect on successes, challenges and lessons learned and to plan for the coming years

Posted on Apr 24, 2023


For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, regional and global networks of young key populations and people living with HIV, the global youth consortium under the Robert Carr Fund, met in person in Bali, Indonesia, for the annual reflection, learning and work-planning meeting from 28 - 30 March 2023. 

4Youth, comprised of Youth LEAD, Y+ Global, Y-PEER Asia Pacific Centre and Youth RISE, was established under the Robert Carr Fund in 2019 as the leading global youth consortium working on various issues affecting the lives of young key populations. Except for the disruption brought on by COVID-19, the consortium meets annually to share updates and primary outcomes from project activities and establish concrete action work plans for the coming year. 

“Since the last meeting, 4Youth have been busy operationalising network strengthening and ensuring the needs of young people living with and affected by HIV remain a top priority. 4Youth partners played a critical role in 2021, in the lead-up to the High-Level Meeting on AIDS, by working together and alongside other youth-led partners to take stock of the progress made and the challenges faced by young people and to ensure Political Declaration reflected essential language on youth,” says Gabriella Romero, Programme Officer at Y+ Global. 

“Since the last in-person meeting, Y+ Global was able to register as an independent network and implement operational procedures, such as governance and finance, to ensure the stability and sustainability of the network,” she added. 

The meeting was also an opportunity for consortium partners to discuss the achievements and outcomes of the Global Fund Community, Rights and Gender Strategic Initiative (CRG-SI)  Youth Consortium, also known as Count Me In, and to identify priorities within a central work plan, including a list of potential countries that require additional support. Count Me In comprises three networks, including Youth LEAD, Y+ Global and Youth RISE and was established to support the implementation of country-level activities and programmes to ensure young to young key populations and young people living with HIV are meaningfully engaged in the HIV response. Count Me In also supports youth-led networks at the country level to access technical assistance and support and to ensure the participation of young people in all their diverse in-country dialogues for the new Global Fund funding cycle. 

In 2023, Y+ Global will lead capacity-building workshops to keep developing and improving young people's professional fundraising, financial and programme management skills and continue to provide technical and financial assistance to youth-led country networks to ensure the continuation and implementation of their advocacy plans. Through this partnership, Y+ Global will expand its network to include four new country networks from Latin America, Asia and Africa. 

Similarly, Y-PEER has plans to expand its network to cover New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka and based on the success of the education hub and its e-courses, their plans also include providing online and in-person training on issues around mental health and sexual reproductive health and rights. Through this collaboration, Y-PEER will continue to be the driving force behind the engagement of young people in ICPD 30, which is a critical platform to ensure young people's voices are being heard by policymakers on sexual and reproductive health and rights. They will continue to promote CSE for out-of-school youth and strengthen the work to support young people who are deaf or hard of hearing and with young key populations. 

For 2023, Youth LEAD will continue its initiatives on network strengthening of youth-led country networks and partners. This includes providing technical and financial assistance to national youth partners and developing an online information portal for youth-led organisations and youth CCM members in the Asia-Pacific, small grant opportunities for YKP networks, and data generation. Youth LEAD will also aim to enhance its information management and knowledge sharing with its focal points and expand its funding sources.

As the current lead organisation of the 4Youth and Count Me In Consortiums, Youth LEAD also took the opportunity to strengthen the collaboration and partnerships with partner organisations.

“Ensuring that all involved youth-led organisations support each other and amplify each other’s work is crucial to maximising our global impact. The Annual Consortium Meeting was an important opportunity for all consortium members to gather and discuss how we can continue doing this moving forward, especially after years of not meeting in person,” says Vanessa Monley, Programme Officer at Youth LEAD. 

Youth RISE also stressed the importance of collaboration and in-person meetings to develop sustainable and congruent work plans that will impact the lives of key populations and young people who use drugs. Although global coverage of harm reduction services has slowly increased, there is a lack of accessible and available services focused on young people. Through this partnership, Youth RISE launched TripApp, a mobile application designed to reduce the harms associated with using psychoactive substances. They will continue to provide technical support to their network to implement programmes where the voices, values and needs of young people who use drugs remain at the top of everyone's agenda. 

Consortium members walked away from the meeting with several action points for increased collaboration, including increasing the visibility of the consortium, increasing cooperation between communications focal points, regular update meetings, and enhanced knowledge of resource management.