By Naomi Yakawich
August 17, MANILA—More than 13,000 student leaders participated in the annual Global Youth Summit 2019, the largest gathering for young Filipino leaders that aims to engage and inspire the world’s future experts. Held at the SM MOA Arena and hosted by Global Peace Foundation (GPF) and SM Cares, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings Inc., the summit inspired thousands of young minds by providing a space where they could share their ideas and utilize their diverse skill-sets, knowledge, and networks to effectively address the most prevalent challenges facing the country and world today.
“If you do not make a move to change the world, who else will make the Philippines the best it can become? That is why we enjoin everyone to use this forum as a platform to build a very strong foundation and uplift the role of the youth in decision-making. Today, we work harder to create an impact and start positive change by being the example of change to a global community that truly cares,” said SM Cares Children and Youth Program Director Royston Cabunag.
David Caprara, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships of Global Peace Foundation, also emphasized the important role that young people must undertake in achieving global goals outlined by the United Nations. He reminded thousands of attendees, “You [the youth] are today’s pioneers in applying innovative technology and entrepreneurial spirit, inspired by universal values that underlie a vision for a more prosperous world. Your efforts and accomplishments are crucial small steps in ultimately accomplishing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”
Prior to the main summit, participating students had the opportunity to develop and present project ideas that can be implemented in their local communities, including: (1) Inclusive education; (2) Youth-responsive health services; (3) Creating youth-enabling employment and self-employment; (4) Ecosystems in sustainable tourism; (5) Civic awareness and participation; and (6) Creating safe spaces and reducing all forms of violence against children.
Dozens of entries were considered from across the country, however, five outstanding innovative projects were awarded and highlighted at the summit, namely BoluntirMISMO, an end-to-end youth caravan that aims to build nationwide awareness and appreciation of volunteerism and the role that it plays in nation building; ToReal Peace, a promotional and peace training program designed to enlighten youth with the real vision of TORIL, an Islamic Institution, toward peace and development; Project 97, a project that will provide 475 internally displaced youth of Marawi City access to sustainable livelihood opportunities through tourism promotion and entrepreneurship development; Cafesidad: Good Food Crafted by Good Hearts, a project which aims to raise awareness, break barriers, and highlight the abilities of exceptional learners to be equipped with the necessary skills for their future employment while building bridges towards a more inclusive society; and Mindify (Mental Intuitive Device for Filipino Youth), an application and device that will provide accessible and subjective mental health support to improve the wellbeing of Filipino youth.
Influencers, international and local speakers, gave inspiring talks about their advocacies and the role of youth in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Guest speakers included Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador Anne Curtis, United Nations Development Program Ambassador Antoinette Taus, G-Talks Host and Health-XPh co-Founder Dr. Gia Sison, Education Assistant Secretary G.H. Ambat, Consuelo Foundation President and CEO Greg Auberry, and Asian Institute Management’s Dado Banatao Incubator Executive Director, Prim Paypon.
“Every child has the right to grow up in an environment where they feel safe and secure, have basic services and clean air and water, can play, learn and grow and where they voice is heard and matters,” said UNICEF national goodwill ambassador Anne Curtis.
This year’s Global Youth Summit was organized by SM Cares and Global Peace Foundation and endorsed by the Commission on Higher Education. It is supported by Mall of Asia Arena, Cebu Pacific Air, Consuelo Foundation, CIE British School, Inner Wheel Club Central Ortigas, Rotary International District 3830, Lions Club District 301-A2, Lopez Group Foundation, Skin Rejuve, Unilever, SM Youth & Huawei.