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Young Leaders and Global Experts Gather Online for the Youth Social Enterprise Forum in Community Development

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By Naomi MacMurdie

Hundreds of youth, educators, and partners from 16 countries joined the online forum to recognize and explore the importance of fostering a robust network of stakeholders in peacebuilding and youth enterprise across identities of nationality, religion, and other distinctions. The webinar was hosted by the Global Peace and Development Service Alliance, Blincventures, Global Peace Foundation, and Global Peace Women on January 27, 2021 under the theme, “Youth Social Enterprise Forum in Community Development.”

An expert panel of scholars and NGO leaders from countries including Brazil, Mongolia, the Philippines, Nepal, Kenya, and the United States offered inspiration, hope, and tools to identify and address the unique challenges facing their local communities.

Massimo Trombin, CEO of Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Brazil, described the great diversity of South America that has challenged the continent for many years. Pointing out the large youth population of Brazil (47.2 million), he stressed the vital role youth will play as the leading force of change and peacebuilding in the country and the greater continent.

GPF Brazil and local partners are part of a national youth council body, Conjuve, that define the youth policy in the country. A recent activity engages stakeholders from youth enterprises, government representatives, and companies empowering online programs for youth entrepreneurs. The program has reached some 14,000 youth in Brazil and 100,000 young people in 12 countries and resulted in the development of 4,000 businesses. “We need to work with a collective mentality,” said Mr. Trombin. “The silo methodology does not work anymore. We need to cooperate with each other.”

“I believe young men and women everywhere will have to create their own jobs,” said panelist Lex Rieffel who is a Nonresident Fellow at the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan think tank which aims to enhance international peace and security through a combination of analysis and outreach. His research in youth unemployment highlights the challenges facing urban youth, and yet also shines a positive light on why youth social enterprise will be essential to the world’s future.

Ganbat Gonchigsuren, President of GPF Mongolia, shared the international support of youth volunteers that have helped transform the country one community at a time. Local community development projects engage local partners as well as young people from abroad to beautify and increase security in communities by focusing on infrastructure, increasing street size, planting trees, and installing CCTV cameras on public streets to name a few projects.

Representatives from other countries also shared the transformative projects changing lives in their communities. Jocelyn Remigio, Director for Community Development for GPF Philippines, shared on the All Lights Village project, a program that has provided solar light, community facilities, and organized livelihood projects for more than forty communities across the Philippines. The project encourages local people to take ownership over the development, empowering them with the knowledge, guidance, and confidence to be self-reliant and manage their own education, hygiene, and security. “Each member of the community becomes an agent for change,” said Ms. Remigio.

A graduate of Global Peace Women Leadership Academy and Founder of Mahila Pahila, Sandhya Acharya, described a project she headed in Nepal that led to the creation of her own foundation as a young women leader in peacebuilding. Her Family Value Education program addressed social issues like violence against women, family disputes, and ways to establish peace through non-violent communication.  The Forum Theatre reached more than 7,500 people and trained some 35 women who have hosted 50 programs of their own in local communities.

Japheth Odhiambo Ouda, Environment Regional Coordinator for GPDSA, shared a case study of a community in Kenya affected by post-election violence, identity-based conflict, and poor sanitation conditions. Facilitated by an Environmental Track committee of area corporations together with Global Peace Foundation and other local partners, people were able to take ownership by participating together in community service. The projects brought people closer across barriers while contributing to youth enterprise and recycling waste of the community through a community cooker.

The variety of models described by the panel provided a wide range of projects to address sustainable development and peacebuilding, encouraging private and public partnerships, and encouraging youth, especially young women, to become leaders and changemakers in their local communities.

GPF would also like to extend special thanks to Thryza Dow, the forum moderator; Ingil Ra, President of GPY Korea and co-chair of GPDSA; and Nicholas Lee, Secretary General of GPDSA.

Further details are at www.GPDSA.net.

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