Program Advances Nepal’s Youth Vision 2025
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Nepal’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) convened a groundbreaking youth assembly on volunteerism in Kathmandu, Nepal on March 23-25, 2015.
The South Asia Subregional Consultation on Youth Volunteerism to Promote Participation, Development and Peace drew some 200 mostly youth participants from 17 countries–including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, India, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States–to strengthen existing international service networks and partnerships, building upon a prior ESCAP-hosted Bangkok Forum in 2014.
Among those participating were government representatives from countries in the region, youth volunteer organizations, civil society organizations, and other private sector and development partners.
“The development of a nation primarily depends upon the quality and commitment of youth because they are the most productive, creative, innovative and energetic segment of society,” said Nepal’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Honorable Purushottam Paudel, who opened the convening.
Emphasizing the importance of youth voices in the convening, Hon. Paudel added that “it is essential for us to give special attention to youth development by creating a conducive environment, so that youth can play a positive and constructive role in society.”
Based on issue clusters of environment, health service, youth entrepreneurship, peace building and disaster preparedness set during the Bangkok Forum, youth participants engaged in complex yet lively discussions with panels of experts to identify action steps that youth can take through service, focusing on the South Asian sub-region.
“The right partnerships, planning and investments can propel today’s youth to be the first generation that truly understands and realizes sustainable development.”
“The youth bulge in South Asia presents a great opportunity not to be missed,” said Dr. Marco Roncarati, Co-Chair of APPDSA and Social Affairs Officer of ESCAP. “The right partnerships, planning and investments can propel today’s youth to be the first generation that truly understands and realizes sustainable development.”
Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Arjun Bahadur Thapa added that “youth volunteerism is a powerful method for creative and innovative change.”
The youth-directed action steps decided during the Consultation supported and further informed the new Youth Vision 2025 policy being launched by Nepal’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, as well as the emerging SAARC Youth Charter.
Coinciding with UN World Water Day, the convening provided strong focus on environmental service in projects and initiatives such as the Global Peace Foundation’s Bagmati River Peace Initiative in Nepal and similar water and environmental action models from Thailand and Kenya.
On the final day of the convening participants joined with the local community in cleaning and planting trees along the sacred Bagmati River in Kathmandu, directly engaging in action as part of the ongoing campaign linking environmental conservation, cultural heritage and peacebuiding.
“Building on the Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance (APPDSA) launched in Bangkok at ESCAP headquarters, this South Asia Consultation is the first event of its kind with multi-stakeholder, action-oriented partners fostering youth engagement, development and peacebuilding” commented Ingill Ra, Co-Chair of APPDSA and Regional Partnership Coordinator of the Global Peace Foundation.
The October 2014 forum at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok convened 300 youth and other participants to support a post-2015 development agenda focusing on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The forum also formally launched the Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance.
The South Asia launch of the Alliance in Kathmandu with partners from across the sub-region concluded with the Kathmandu “Call for Action.” The statement summarized the most critical ideas and action steps from youth in the South Asian sub-region, including the importance of youth’s role in engaging their communities in environmental service and the necessity of heightened youth participation in peace development through nonviolence and entrepreneurial leadership.
The Nepal convening was supported by partners including the U.S. Peace Corps, KOICA, Australia Volunteers International, JCYCN Nepal, Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs’ Forum, Nepal Water Week and Global Peace Youth – Nepal.