London, United Kingdom – Last Tuesday, June 21, our youth leader Oliva Nalwadda from Uganda joined a road safety panel during the FIA Foundation Forum to talk about meaningful youth participation. She delivered a powerful message calling on leaders to stop blaming youth and to start protecting and engaging them.

What is meaningful youth participation?
For her intervention, Oliva was asked about how governments and donors should engage with young people in their respective capacities. To which, Oliva threw a few questions back, asking the audience and the rest of the panelists about what it means to meaningfully engage with young people.

“What is meaningful youth engagement? Is it allocating 3% of your budget to youth initiatives? Is it having a youth leadership board within the structure of the organization? Is it too complex for us to achieve?” 

Oliva doubles down by explaining how young people make up the biggest percentage of the world’s population and yet the biggest majority of the world’s leaders are made up of older generations. “Our fear is so often that when we are not part of the decision-making procedure, we are forgotten”.

Answering the question, Oliva explained that meaningfully engaging with youth means including them as equal partners in addressing road safety and sustainable mobility issues.

Young people are ready
After talking about meaningful youth engagement, Oliva emphasized to the panel and the rest of the audience that young people are ready and are already taking action for road safety. She shared that young people are already leading projects, engaging with stakeholders, organizing themselves into coalitions, and more. 

She calls on decision-makers and leaders to start implementing the commitments they made to involve and engage young people. Oliva tells leaders to work with youth saying “We are willing to work with you so work with us. We are asking for a chance.” 

“What is missing is action. We are seeing a lot of commitments, The Ministerial was amazing, we heard a lot of promises only to be forgotten in the first draft of the Global Plan… If we are not including the population that is most affected, we will have multiple decades of action.” 

Led by FIA Foundation’s Avi Silverman, Oliva joined Etienne Krug from the World Health Organization, Jennifer Homendy from the National Transportation Safety Board, Nneka Henry from the United Nations Road Safety Fund, Jean Todt from the UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, and David Ward from Towards Zero Foundation in the panel.