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Youth Urged to Take Lead in Peacebuilding at the 2021 Global Peace Youth Forum

by Fahly Poblete

With current efforts being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Global Peace Foundation’s first fully virtual Global Peace Youth Forum (GPYF) was held last July 31 with more than 1,600 registered participants from 23 countries to advocate youth inclusion and leadership in peacebuilding for sustainable development.

The virtual forum, held in separate segments for Asia and the Americas, gathered more than 26,500 combined post reach and views on Zoom, Facebook, and On24 and had a total post engagement of 5,936 on Facebook and Twitter where the participants shared their takeaways on the topic using the hashtags #GlobalPeace and #GPY2021.

Global Peace International President James Flynn opened the forum with a special message addressing the current challenges and opportunities brought by the pandemic. “At this critical juncture, there is an urgent need for leadership that is moral and innovative,” he said. “It’s time for young leaders already engaged in the global community and skilled in the communications tools of our times to step forward and solve problems together.”  

He also reminded the youth that everyone can be a peacebuilder, and all can contribute to peacebuilding by making it an everyday effort. In the Asia segment of GPYF, speakers focused on peacebuilding through interfaith youth action; youth participation in peace, justice, and security policy making; educating the young generation of their role in peacebuilding; youth leadership in changing times; community peacebuilding models; and empowering youth to build peace.

 “It becomes the responsibility of the political leaders, the civic society, the economic system, and the youth themselves to help carve out a way for a sustainable and creative future, which is on the three pillars of economy, ecology, and ethics.”    -- Dr. Markandey Rai

Other presenters discussed the various levels of meaningful youth participation and gave tips on how youth can engage in policy advocacy to promote peace, justice, and security. Global Youth Coalition on Youth, Peace, and Security co-founder Lakshitha Saji Prelis talked about how the landmark UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security came to life: a story of a youth-driven, adult supported process; the story of people and organizations coming together around shared principles and common goals to achieve a collective impact.

In the Americas segment, the discussions centered around preventing violent extremism among youth; peacebuilding lessons from Hiroshima; building peace through youth empowerment and entrepreneurship; the role of social enterprise in peacebuilding and sustainability; and supporting youth, peace, and security agenda.

US Youth, Peace, and Security Coalition Co-chair Mena Ayazi shared that the key challenges to youth peacebuilding are exclusion and marginalization, infringement on safety and rights, and lack of access to resources and support. Ayazi proposed participation, protection, prevention, partnership, and disengagement and reintegration, the five pillars of the UNSCR 2250, as solutions to increase inclusive representation of youth in peacebuilding.

The president of Global Peace and Development Service Alliance, Dr. Markandey Rai, reminded the forum that “it becomes the responsibility of the political leaders, the civic society, the economic system, and the youth themselves to help carve out a way for a sustainable and creative future, which is on the three pillars of economy, ecology, and ethics.”

One of the highlights of the forum is the announcement of winners of the #iPEACEBUILDER Video Challenge, a showcase of youth’s global leadership efforts in peacebuilding in their communities. Rain Russell Villaspin was selected as the winner of $500 for his initiative, which offers free and easy access to books for children in a community in Manila, Philippines.

Other top entries who will receive $50 each are: Muhammad Mahmudi for “Peace Project”; Daryl Querijero for the initiative, "Donation Drive, Letters for Frontliners, and Dare to Care Project"; John Paul Sales Jose for “Campus Peace and Development Forum”; Almina Ella Borlagdan and Donald Christian Boarao for “Peace through Art and Leadership”; and Kier Aventurado for “Panaghiusa Peace Camp.” GPYF 2021 is organized in partnership with Secretaria Nacional da Juventude - Brazil, Fighters for Peace, Initiatives of Change, Oleander Initiative, 2030 Youth Force Indonesia, Search for the Common Ground, Youth, Peace and Security Coalition, Transforation First Asia, Global Peace and Development Service Alliance, official media partners – ABS-CBN News Channel, Oxford Business Group, The Manila Times, and DZRH Radyo Balintataw.

This year’s Global Peace Youth Forum is a pre-event of Global Peace Convention, Global Peace Foundation's biennial flagship convening. The first Virtual GPC will examine the theme “Moral and Innovative Leadership in Peacebuilding for Our Changing World” through a dynamic series of programs following the youth forum from August 6 to 15. To join this year’s Global Peace Convention, register at http://bit.ly/gpc2021registration.