On International Youth Day, panelists recognise need for concerted efforts towards peace building with youth involvement at every step

August 11, New Delhi—It is a widely-recognised truth that to truly achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the youth need to be viewed as an equal stakeholder. To this effect, UNESCO MGIEP has been putting the youth at the heart of its many initiatives and programs, specifically the YESPeace Network (Youth for Education, Sustainability and Peace).

On the occasion of the International Youth Day 2017, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports organised a national consultation in collaboration with UNDP and UNV on “Youth Building Peace”, in which UNESCO MGIEP was a key partner. Partners of the YESPeace Network-India Chapter including STEPS, the Red Elephant Foundation and Pravah also were part of the national consultation.

The theme of the International Youth Day (IYD) for 2017 is “Youth Building Peace” wherein the focus is on developing young leaders for a better tomorrow, which has also been reaffirmed by the adoption of Security Council Resolution (SCR) 2250 on youth, peace and security. This offers an important policy framework for peacebuilding interventions that meaningfully involve young women and men and support their leadership in peacebuilding.

Speaking on the panel, “Youth participation for Peace building & Sustainable Development” Abel Caine, Senior Project Officer mentioned, “To contend with 21st Century  global issues, education systems will have to develop new and innovative approaches in order to empower young people to adapt to their changing environments and to lead socially responsible lives.” He also stressed that, “there is a need to stop youth tokenism and develop systematic and concrete processes for youth engagement in the policy processes in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each story of young people driving change is living proof that young people are already sharing the world for the better- we need to recognise this and support them.”

Shreya Jani, managing trustee of STEPS, an organisation working with young people in conflict-ridden regions such as Kashmir and Manipur highlighted the need to make peace-building an concerted and consistent effort and not a knee-jerk response to incidents of non-violence. “There is so much preparation that goes into being ready for war and hardly any investment made in building capacities for peace,” she emphasised making a strong case for inclusion of peace studies into the educations systems.

Concluding the session,  Neha Buch from Pravah urged all to look within and start the peace building process from there.

The national consultation thus provided a space to discuss perspectives, challenges and priorities to support the active participation of youth, considering their diversity, social cohesion, conflict transformation and local and national peace building. It also helped different stakeholders share knowledge and information stemming from recent research and analysis on this topic.

In celebration of  International Youth Day (12th August, 2017) UNESCO MGIEP has some exciting activities lined up throughout the month of August 2017:

  • A blog series featuring opinions of  international youth on the future of education
  • A partners meeting with the UN Youth Envoy,  Jayathma Wickramanayake
  • A town-hall meeting between the youth and UNESCO Director-General in New Delhi

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