New York, USA – Last week, June 30, delegates from the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety flew to represent young people worldwide during the High-Level Meeting on Road Safety. Estiara Ellizar (Indonesia), Jacob Smith (USA), Simon Patrick Obi (Nigeria), and Yasmine Al Moghrabi (Lebanon) along with our team led an official side event during the Meeting that called on local and global leaders to meaningfully engage with youth when it comes to all stages of decision-making in road safety and sustainable mobility.

Art, road safety, and meaningful youth engagement 
“Stop Blaming Us & Start Engaging Us,” this was the call our young delegates elevated during the High-Level Meeting, highlighted during our official side event. We worked closely with Lisa Russell, Founder of Create2030, to ensure that the event was informative and empowering as well as creatively delivered through dance, music, and other artistic interpretations. 

Lisa shared how art can be used to draw attention and raise awareness around the road safety and youth agenda. “Artists have a role and place in this movement and a lot of times we have challenges that have been similar to what young people face in this environment of feeling like a lot of our participation is tokenized but are we really involved in the conversation?” 

The event was officially opened by the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director of Social Determinants of Health of WHO Etienne Krug, and United Nations Special Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake. 

Each of our speakers spoke about why it’s so important to have young people working with all stakeholders to address the biggest killer of youth; road traffic crashes. In his speech, Etienne shared the unacceptable reality youth have to live with. 

“It’s true, you guys have inherited a dirty, unsafe, unsustainable transport system – and you are blamed for it. You’re blamed because you are dying on the roads and of course, this is unacceptable.” – Etienne Krug 

Supporting the need to protect and engage youth, Jayathma emphasizes that youth have started and continue to rise up to the world’s challenges ‘with or without the world noticing.’ 

Start engaging us
The event continued with an intergenerational dialogue between representatives of the Youth Coalition Yasmine Al Moghrabi and Simon Patrick Obi with Vice Minister of Planning and Regulation Of the Ministry of Public Work, Dominican Republic H.E. Angel Salvador Tejeda and Lord Mayor of Kampala City, Uganda H.E. Erias Lukwago. The dialogue was moderated by Professor Adnan Hyder from George Washington University. 

The panelists spoke about their thoughts on youth engagement, shedding light on how different sectors and generations understand youth and road safety. Despite differences in perspectives brought on by the respective status quos of the different countries, the similarity is reflected in the fact that youth are the victims and that the system needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of youth and to involve them. 

During his intervention, Simon talks about the importance of shared responsibility – how different stakeholders should work together in order to create a system that not only protects young people but includes them in efforts to create, implement, and assess different road safety strategies locally and globally. 

Yasmine encouraged leaders not only to protect them but to also learn from their experiences so these can be used to educate and guide decision-makers and policymakers on how to best engage and involve youth. 

“By not engaging artists and youth artists, you are missing out on incredible allies who are considered great creative thinkers and problem solvers. So why wouldn’t you want to set the table, sitting and helping create policies around road safety and other sustainable development topics?” – Lisa Russell