The NGO Delegation welcomes the Executive Director’s continued positive approach and optimism and acknowledges that despite the very difficult financial backdrop there is still much to celebrate as Michel has set out.
We welcome the ED’s acknowledgement of the importance and significance of grassroots activism whether expressed through the Arab Spring or the vibrant, diverse and wonderfully culture-specific community HIV responses around the world. The world’s citizens now expect transparency, democracy and social inclusion from their governments and those making policies about our lives. Social media in particular has fostered a sense of global empathy which has brought the diversity of human kind together ensuring that our pain and suffering and our joys and successes are much less likely to go unnoticed.
However, social media is a complex animal typified by its spontaneity, organic and bottom-up nature. Virtual communities can quickly spring up around shared interests, incidents or concerns and this can be a dynamic catalyst for change. However, the use of social media alone cannot replace structured interactions with key populations and affected groups. For example, CrowdOutAIDS has tried to extend UNAIDS engagement with young people affected by HIV. While this is an interesting experiment, it cannot replace planned engagement with young people and particularly those who are most marginalized, particularly young people who are also from the key populations. The PCB NGO delegation highlights the importance of making sure the needs of young key affected populations are fully reflected in the New Generation Leadership strategy. This strategy should continue to integrate the principles of meaningful youth participation and youth leadership from the aforementioned groups into the UNAIDS’s work and stimulate increased HIV awareness and increased mobilization of those young people, disproportionately affected by HIV. We urge UNAIDS to continue this crucial dialogue with young people both infected and affected by HIV, and we look forward to hearing ways UNAIDS can implement this New Generation Leadership strategy to meet the diverse needs of young people from key affected populations, including young people living with HIV.