Some 250 participants from over 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region representing governments, academia, and the private sector convened in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on June 26, 2015 at a forum that aimed to strengthen the contributions of youth in peacebuilding, development and the environment and to scale up volunteerism across the region.
The North-East Asia Sub-Regional Forum on Youth Volunteerism to Promote Participation, Development and Peace, and subsequent International Young Leaders Assembly was organized by the Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance (APPDSA)with co-convening organizations including the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Global Peace Foundation; Mongolia’s Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism; Network of Mongolian Volunteer Organizations (NMVO); Mongolian Youth Federation; and the Global Young Leaders Academy.
The forum aimed to improve collaboration among various stakeholders and advance strategies for disaster risk reduction, youth empowerment, environmental conservation, education, health care and humanitarian service. The forum also explored mechanisms for training national volunteers and dispatching volunteers internationally to support governmental programs and empower youth volunteers through creation of a Mongolian Volunteers Corps thereby creating a policy-enabling environment for a new wave of peace-based initiatives and youth volunteer projects.
Featured presenters included Dr. Marco Roncarati, Social Affairs Officer of UN ESCAP and Co-Chair of the Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance; M. Khurelsukh, Vice minister of Mongolia’s Environment, Green Development and Tourism Ministry; Hon. S. Oyun, Member of Mongolia’s Parliament and President of the UN Environmental Assembly; Yeqing Li, President of Global Young Leaders Academy; and Sam Johnson, a social entrepreneur and disaster preparedness leader from Christchurch, New Zealand, among others.
Dr. Roncarati reflected the forum showed the growing strength of the Alliance across Asia-Pacific region, “with young people at the fore.” In particular the youth of Mongolia, with the support of stakeholders that include the government and civil society, “have the spirit to push forward the sustainable develoment agenda through service and collaboration, not just on the national level, but beyond, and in the name of peace, to neighbours in the region.”
As an action step, the forum issued an MOU between APPDSA and the Mongolian Youth Federation on behalf of all assembled partners to implement the Mongolia Youth Corps and to establish Ulaanbaatar as the Northeast Asia hub for the Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance.
Participants also adopted an Ulaanbaatar Call to Action, urging cooperation on service and development priorities on the regional level with like-minded partners, creation of an online platform, and promotion of an international volunteer eco camp and education program to achieve a “green future” for Mongolia. Following the conference, participants volunteered time to support a massive tree nursery established on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar to combat desertification.
Forum participants, volunteers, and members of “My Club” a local online volunteer community established by D. Serdaram, Executive Director of the Global Peace Foundation, Mongolia took action the following day, watering some hundreds of planted trees of a local tree nursery.