Skip to main content

Youth Development Conference held during IDB Annual Meeting

CALGARY, Canada - The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) co-organized a full-day conference on March 24th to discuss the importance and impact of youth development in promoting sustainable and equitable economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The event highlighted the positive impact that investing in young people has on poverty reduction and social inclusion.

Ten young leaders from the Americas were selected through a competitive process from a pool of more than 1800 applicants and were recognized by IDB President, Luis Alberto Moreno; the Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi; and the President of the University of Calgary, Dr. Elizabeth Cannon.

“Latin America and the Caribbean is the second “youngest” region in the world. The average age of the nearly 590 million people in the region is 27. If we’re going to break the cycle of poverty, we should give a lot of priority to investing in young people.There is a direct link between the wellbeing of youth and the social and economic progress of a country”, said Moreno.

The conference, attended by more than 400 people, focused on key issues that directly impact youth, including employment, entrepreneurship, social innovation, climate change, road safety, and sports for development. As part of the opening session, the IDB and Microsoft launched the second phase of a Youth Fund designed to broaden information technology (IT) skills and economic opportunities for disadvantaged youth in Latin America. 

The panel, Good Jobs Wanted, highlighted the challenges faced by youth all over the world in obtaining decent employment. “A lot has been done in this area, but with 22 million youth out of school and without jobs, the scope of the challenge is enormous,” said Julie T. Katzman, Executive Vice President of the IDB. “One of the goals of the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund is to develop good evidence to unravel the formula behind successful interventions that can make a difference and reach scale.” Since its establishment in 1993, the MIF has invested more than $70 million in projects that expand economic opportunities for young people. 

“Both the IDB and Microsoft are committed to investing in young people, helping to provide education-specific tools, technologies and skills that can help them achieve their greatest potential,” said Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Global Community Affairs, Microsoft Corporation. 

Charly Alberti, one of the founders of the Latin American rock band Soda Stereo who is now a global advocate for addressing climate change, delivered a motivational multimedia presentation that called upon young people to take action as caretakers of the planet. Model social programs were showcased where young people were featured promoting social change through their organizations, including A Roof Over my Country, Students on Ice and Youth for Road Safety. 

Mario Cader-Frech, MTV’s Vice President of Public Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility, described how MTV and the IDB are providing platforms where youth can showcase their contributions as agents of change.

Other sessions highlighted how sports can play a key role in promoting a range of development objectives, from self-esteem and teamwork to conflict resolution, violence prevention and social inclusion at the community level. Sports-based development programs promote employment creation, entrepreneurship and education. Boby Duval, Founder and Director of Athletics of Haiti, shared how his organization has benefited more than 4,000 children in Haiti through sports education.

“We’re pleased to host the IDB 2011 Youth Day, an internationally recognized conference that shares the University of Calgary’s values in recognizing today’s youth as agents of change and the leaders of tomorrow,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary.

The selected youth leaders, who are entrepreneurs, environmentalists, peacemakers and cultural advocates, inspired other youth around the world by sharing their stories.

The afternoon sessions concluded with a moving presentation by the Chamber Ensemble and the Petite Chanteurs of the Sainte Trinite Music School of Port au Prince, Haiti’s most prestigious music school, which was severely damaged during last year’s earthquake. Their participation was sponsored by the Inter-American Culture and Development Foundation and the Canadian Episcopal Church.

The conference concluded with a concert with emerging Latin pop rock singers Marre from Colombia and Gustavo Galindo of Mexican-American heritage. During the final concert, IDB President Moreno and MTV Latin America presented a Chiuku Award to Marre and Gustavo for their philantropic work in favour of young people. Marre serves as a road safety spokesperson for the IDB, and Gustavo Galindo promotes cultural ties between Hispanic and Mexican youth. 

For the first time, the Youth Conference was transmitted via a live Webcast in partnership with Live Stream reaching millions of viewers worldwide. 

The conference was sponsored by the IDB, the Canadian Agency for International Development (CIDA), the University of Calgary, Microsoft and MTV Latin America. 

Jump back to top