28 August 2014, 8:00am to 8:30am
BNDCC, Pecatu Hall 1
Dear youth partners,
Ladies and gentleman,
It is quite a pleasure for me to being activities of the 6th UNAOC Forum with the kick-off of the Youth Event. Together with Minister Natalegawa, I warmly welcome you to Bali as you are about to embark into a crucial collective endeavour with your fellow participants to this Youth Event.
You are part of a select group of 100 young leaders selected from over 3,000 applications from all over the world. That, in itself, is quite an achievement.
But this achievement is only the beginning of a long and certainly challenging journey that you will take together. You are here with a great group of youth who are as motivated, as engaged, as ready to contribute to advancing the mission of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.
Together, you represent what the world needs to make progress when it comes to preventing conflicts, building peace, fostering social cohesion.
I firmly believe you are what the world needs, but sometimes the world does not fully recognize or measure correctly the vital role that you play in shaping our societies. Your presence here and your development of Youth Recommendations is a step toward the proper recognition of what you bring to the table when it comes to advancing the mission of the UNAOC.
I am glad to share with you that when it comes to engaging young people as partners to peacebuilding, the UNAOC is viewed as a pioneer by the youth themselves. The UNAOC sees youth engagement as indispensable to its mission.
In many places around the world, young people are a majority but their contribution is not seen or sought. We will not be successful in fostering peace if this continues to happen.
In order to support, on one hand, the recognition of young people’s amazing efforts to foster peace in their communities, and on the other hand, the fact that they need to be at the table with other decision-makers, the UNAOC offers a wide range of projects, trainings and events such as this one.
Together, these projects, trainings and events make the UNAOC a platform for young leaders who are working hard to reduce tensions, advance peace processes, and increase social cohesion across the globe. I am proud to say that we engage a large number of youth from conflict zones who are regularly side-lined in peace processes.
While we know very well that these youth and youth organizations are already succeeding in their work and are already very knowledgeable, we invest in them so that they can become beacons of social change in their communities.
In doing so, the UNAOC has contributed to the growing recognition, over the last few years, that young people’s participation in peacebuilding is fundamental to reaching durable peace. Despite this needed recognition, the UNAOC will continue to advocate for a larger role for young people in peacebuilding. And we do so in many ways, some of them unexpected.
As an example of this, is the PEACEapp project developed by the UNAOC and the UNDP. PEACEapp is a global competition promoting digital games and apps as venues for cultural dialogue and conflict management. Drawing on the unique cultural resources and experiences of developers, technologists and budding young peacebuilders around the world, PEACEapp invites individuals to create new digital games and apps to foster dialogue that prevents violence.
As a more traditional example, we worked with other UN agencies, NGOs and youth partners on the development of the Guiding Principles on the Role of Youth in Peacebuilding. These principles are designed to inform participative and inclusive peacebuilding strategies and programmes that systematically promote and ensure participation and contributions of young people.
I know that the Youth and Peacebuilding Break-Out Session offered tomorrow at the Forum will showcase a number of UNAOC youth partners that are involved in peace processes. These youth, along with people in attendance in this Break-Out Session will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Operational Guidance linked to these Guiding Principles.
While it will certainly sound interesting for you to attend this youth-focused Break-Out Session, I encourage you to take a look at other Break-Out Sessions offered as part of the Forum programme. You need to make your presence known and your voice heard on other topics. After all, as I say all the time, young people are concerned by everything around them. There are Break-Out Sessions about freedom of speech, migrant integration, inter-religious dialogue, the power of sports, arts, music and entertainment to foster cross-cultural understanding, etc. You are most welcomed in all of these Break-Out Sessions; make your opinion about these things known to other Forum participants.
I thank you