Youth Empowerment: “Build the Youth, Build the Nation
Youths are the greatest asset to any nation for sustainable development and peace. These sessions highlight tools with values-based strategies of youth empowerment and peacebuilding as well as best practices from throughout India and the Indo-Pacific region. Leveraging youth capacity building on leadership, peacebuilding, and new essential life skills will greatly contribute to the nation’s economic growth, peace, and development. The Youth Track aims to empower youths’ approach to problem solving, to think from a global perspective, and to become moral and innovative leaders: rethink, redefine, and transform.
Session I: Leveraging Youth as Global, Moral and Innovative Leaders
Today’s youth must be prepared for responsibilities that have never existed before as leaders in a more diverse and global society. There is a need to redefine youth’s roles in tackling pressing issues in peace and development not just holistically but with a focus on strengthening leadership and peacebuilding knowledge and skills.
An important concept for policymakers and stakeholders of youth development to consider is how these new definitions of youth roles could influence coherence in education and government systems so that they all drive towards the same goals.
Session II: Youth Capacity Building and Empowerment through Identifying New Essential Life Skills for
This session contributes to integrating young voices, perspectives, aspirations, and models to national development policies and processes concerning youth life skills as effective partners in nation building. Youth need continuous education on so-called life skills, including essential economic skills and character. Vulnerable and marginalized youth groups in particular need to develop communication, digital skills, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship to support local economic development and affect economic growth.
Through this session participants discover and see for themselves that literacy and training in life skills need to be supported with financial and economic skills to be successful partners in nation building. This session presented their conclusions as “new essential life skills” towards sustainable development 2030 after hearing from expert panelists including Goris Mustaqim, founder of Nusantara Consulting; Thryza Dow, Impact Head of Entreprenuership from Idobro Impact Solutions and former Director of the National Institute of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD) Noida.
Session III Tools for Social Cohesion, Interfaith, Action and Unity (Combined Tracks – Youth Empowerment
and Values-Based Peacebuilding)
Young peacebuilders can play a leadership role activating innovative new peacebuilding approaches, preventive diplomacy, community training, and local capacity building in their communities. In contrast, the focus on unity within diversity, the shared identity of our common humanity, and the shared values that accompany that identity can bring transformation and respect for all.
This session demonstrates the notion that acts of service or volunteering are a powerful tool for peacebuilding. Moreover, youths not only act as catalysts of change, but of peace, connecting and engaging with peace practitioners to begin building the strategy for a collaborative peace movement for all ages in the Indo-Pacific, including the Peace Hub Campaign, coupled with the continuing leadership capacity building programs such as the Global Peacebuilders Practicum.
Throughout the Youth Empowerment track, panelists and participants actively discussed the challenges of the modern workforce, such as increasing automation and lack of practical experience in areas that require specialized skills. Still, various opportunities have emerged in the past few years as the world currently has the highest number of young people in history. Youth are highly dynamic, courageous, and passionate in nature and have the potential to transform the world for the better.
Discussions were strongly focused on facilitation and nurturing of youth leadership paradigms that are driven by moral values and innovation. The three sessions stressed that youth leadership in the context of the modern world needs to embody not just the traditional characteristics of leadership such as ownership, responsibility, and determination, but also a comprehensive values-based approach that sees all individuals as inherently equal. The inherent capacity and familiarity of youth with technology and digital tools should also cultivate acceptance of varying perspectives and encourage a dynamic and broad-minded worldview.
This includes the creation of cross-generational collaboration as the wisdom and experience of older generations when paired with the drive and determination of the youth can produce profound results. This collaboration can only be fostered when both parties show mutual respect and genuine curiosity regarding each other’s point of view. Cultivating a skill-based approach to learning in day-to-day life is incredibly important and panelists recommended reform in learning toward a character and skill-oriented education system. Youth leaders also discussed how entrepreneurship is an important approach where youth can express their skills, aspirations, and decision-making abilities.
Given the challenging threats of war, climate change, the global pandemic, and other social divisions, promotion and nurturing of an entrepreneurial spirit in the youth is crucial in seeking opportunity even in crisis situations. Thus, youth can seek opportunities to better humanity even in the face of such unprecedented situations faced by the world today. Youth need to recontextualize their understanding of peacebuilding in the present times. Peacebuilding must not be seen simply as a lack of war or violence but rather the maintenance of a society that is equitable and just. Observing that young people worldwide are dissatisfied by the disparity they observe in resources, opportunities, and access to basic human rights, they seek to actively change the world for the better by engaging in ground level initiatives that are action-oriented.
The Youth Track developed consensus on many key issues and advanced action steps to engage more effectively in promoting positive change, including:
- Facing challenges and recognizing opportunities faced by today’s youth in a world influenced by the forces of globalization and digitization.
- Recognizing positive values such as courage, dynamism, determination, and innovation which drive the youth while simultaneously meeting challenges such as increasing automation, lack of job opportunities and skill development.
- Discussing the need for greater engagement of youth via young leaders who, by the example of their actions, create an alternative leadership paradigm which is morally driven and motivated to function with innovation and passion that defines the youth.
- Fostering cross-generational understanding and collaboration to pair the experience of the previous generations with the drive and innovation of youth.
- Initiating change at the ground level by promoting action-oriented programmes that mobilize young people to actively intervene and transform environments marked by identity-based conflict and division. Global Peacehubs, Youth Peace Clubs , and Peacebuilding Practicum were proposed to provide youth with tools and environment to work actively as peacebuilders within their local communities in India and Indo-Pacific.