The Secretary General, António Guterres, appealed for 2017 to be a year for peace. Evidently, this year’s International Youth Day (IYD) was commemorated under the theme “Youth Building Peace”. As articulated in the Security Council Resolution 2250, youth are recognized as crucial agents of change in global conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development committed to fostering peaceful and inclusive societies and affirmed that “sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security”. Youth are therefore pivotal in building peace especially in attaining SDG Goal 16, which aims to ensure peace, justice and strong institutions. In addition, the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), provides a policy framework to improve the situation of young people and reiterates the “promotion and active involvement of youth in maintaining peace and security”. At this year’s International Youth Day, eight dynamic youth activists from Brazil, Colombia Nigeria, Syria, Finland, United States, Mexico, and Iraq shared inspiring stories about their intimate involvement pioneering peacebuilding initiatives in their communities through advocacy forums like storytelling, music, education, psychosocial support and other community mobilization channels. In this regard, Ahmed Badr shares his views on youth led initiatives on building and maintaining peace. Many other youths tuned in virtually to watch the event and some engaged through lively discussions via social media including Facebook and Twitter. Community activities from around the world were pinned down on the World Map of Events.
Question: Please tell us about what International Youth Day means to you as a youth?
Ahmed Badr: To me, International Youth Day (IYD) represents the union of young changemakers, activists, and thought leaders from all walks of life. It is a day full of dialogue, cross-cultural cooperation, and peacebuilding. Individuals come together to engage with and tackle the issues that matter most to youth across our world, opening the door to the necessary conversations whose impact reverberates across our respective communities. The most powerful aspect of IYD is its ability to provide a platform for storytelling; youth are given a chance to express themselves in whichever way they choose, and a bridge is crafted between personal experience and self-empowerment.
Question: In what ways is the 2017 theme “Youth Building Peace” important to youth today?
Ahmed Badr: The importance of this year’s theme was showcased by the global efforts undertook by the youth that participated in IYD. Through the implementation of several projects, youth have proved time and time again that they are active agents of change, and that they are prepared to address the biggest issues in their communities. At the IYD event held at the UN Headquarters in New York, I had the honour to sit on a panel with an incredible young man by the name of Imrana Alhaji Buba, who founded an organization called the Youth Coalition against Terrorism (YOCAT) that promotes peace education, and provides skills training and psycho-social support to young people across Nigeria. His story is a perfect example of someone who used their own personal experience to turn a negative into a positive, and serves as a role model for changemakers who are committed to the safety of their communities. This year’s theme, “Youth Building Peace”, is a testament to the incredible work that youth like Imrana have already set in motion, and all the work that is yet to come.
Question: Can you elaborate on the ways youth can contribute to peacebuilding efforts in their communities?
Ahmed Badr: Youth can contribute to peacebuilding efforts by connecting their own personal interests, experiences, and passions with issues that face their communities. For example, I am very passionate about writing and art, and so I can volunteer at a local NGO that works to amplify the growth of at-risk children through art expositions and tutorials. Similarly, I can start my own initiative, focusing on related issues. Peacebuilding can take on multiple forms, and can be as simple as having a conversation with someone who is unfamiliar with your culture, religion, or personal experience. IYD proves that being a peacebuilder is not an exclusive concept, but rather something that anyone can contribute to.
Question: Why is the role of youth important in the road towards the 2030 Agenda, especially Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on building peace, justice and strong institutions?
Ahmed Badr: In my opinion, the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be accomplished without the engaged and active participation of youth. Our stories and personal backgrounds provide us with the unique ability of bringing a multitude of perspectives to the discussion and the implementation of the SDGs. Furthermore, youth have an innate ability to quickly adapt to their surroundings, and come together for viable debate and discussion. Moreover, youth are committed agents in the quest for peace, justice, and security; we are a demographic that simultaneously represents the present and the future of our world.
Question: Can you tell us more about your initiative,Narratio, and its accomplishments to enhance peacebuilding among youth?
Ahmed Badr: Narratio is an online platform that seeks to empower youth through the publishing of poetry, art, photography, and narrative. It is a space for creative expression, and one of our main goals is to publish content that encourages cross-cultural cooperation. To date, we have published over 60 posts from over 15 countries. We run workshops across the U.S, focused on the power of storytelling. We publish the Narratio booklet, which is a compilation of the published works from the Narratio site. Through the publishing of pieces that seek to empower and uplift, Narratio hopes to provide a space that emphasizes the idea that we are united by our differences and much as we are by our similarities.
About Ahmed Badr: Ahmed Badr is a writer, social entrepreneur, poet, and former refugee from Iraq. After Ahmed's home in Baghdad was bombed by militia troops, Ahmed and his family relocated to Syria as refugees for two and a half years before receiving approval to move to the United States. Ahmed founded Narratio, a global platform for youth empowerment through creative expression. It publishes works of art from all over the globe, and hosts workshops centered around the power of storytelling and creativity. Ahmed is a rising sophomore at Wesleyan University, where he is a Fellow at the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life. This summer, he is working with the UN Migration Agency as the host of the “TOGETHER” podcast, which is centered around the stories of migrant and refugee youth across the world. With work appearing on UN, Instagram, National Public Radio (NPR), Global Citizen, SAP and others, Ahmed explores the intersection between creativity, the refugee experience, and youth empowerment. You can follow Ahmed Badr @uBadr
UN DESA: International Youth Day 2017 Event on “Youth Building Peace”
The event to commemorate International Youth Day 2017 was held at the UN Headquarters in New York on 11 August by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in collaboration with the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development’s Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding. It celebrated this year’s theme of “Youth Building Peace” and featured International Youth Day video messages from the Secretary-General and his Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake. The Permanent Missions of Senegal, Colombia and Norway also provided remarks, each highlighting their efforts and contributions to the international youth, peace and security agenda. The first panel discussion focused on youth and violence prevention and highlighted youth-led initiatives and the second discussion, on sustaining peace, centered on the work of youth in trauma recovery, refugee inclusion, reconciliation. The principal messaging of the event centered on the importance of social inclusion, full participation and tangible actions of youth for violence prevention and lasting peace. Watch the video of the event here.
International Youth Day 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan
On 11 August 2017, UN Agencies (UNDP, UNHCR, UN Women, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNFPA and UNV) in Astana, Kazakhstan, participated in a joint “Forum-Café” which included group discussions and dialogue between youth activists and the management officials of the participating agencies. The event brought together more than 130 young people, representatives of youth-led organizations and youth activists to bring attention to youth contributions to peace and development as well as strengthened cooperation between youth and representatives of governments, educational institutions, civil society, and international organizations. Participants discussed the role of youth in promoting energy efficient lifestyles, advocating for sustainable development and securing equal access to resources for peace and stability. The event culminated with the Astana Youth Declaration 2017 which was drafted with recommendations from young people in Kazakhstan on how to increase the participation of young people in sustainable development. More
ILO: Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth launches Social Media on Youth Day
On the occasion of International Youth Day, the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, a UN collaboration and partnership platform to tackle youth employment, launched its social media activities on Twitter -@DecentJobsYouth -to celebrate young people’s contribution to employment, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. @DecentJobsYouth is the global initiative under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that aims to scale up action and impact on youth employment worldwide. More
ILO: With Relevant Skills, Youth Can Help Accelerate Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals
On World Youth Skills Day, (15 July 2017) the International Labour Organization (ILO) highlighted the need to provide new skills for young people that respond effectively to the future of work. Participants discussed best practices and policies to address the skills gap and ensure that young people across the globe have opportunities and skills to access quality jobs in rapidly digitizing economies. The young people were joined by Ministers from Sri Lanka, Denmark and Jordan, as well as the President of the General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York under the theme “Skills for the Future of Work”. The newly appointed UN Secretary-General‘s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake also joined the high-level event. More
ILO and IFAD Tackle the “MENA Gender Paradox”
The International Labour Organization (ILO), under the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) regional grant on gender monitoring and evaluation in the Near East and North Africa (NENA), held a public forum to explore issues around female labour force in the Arab World. The policy forum was held on 3 July 2017 in Amman, Jordan, and was part of an executive course on evaluating labour market programmes conducted by the “Taqeem Initiative” that looks at building evidence on “what works” in effective rural labour market strategies for women and young people. The five-day course brought together more than 60 participants from 9 countries including Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen. More.
Burkina Faso: A virtual platform serving vulnerable youth “Zankey Faba” organized a competition to recognize former disadvantaged youth who are now bringing positive change to their communities. Norbert Bangre from Burkina Faso won the competition. Once a shoe shiner, today he is the owner of ‘Américain’, a leather store. He provides training and job opportunities for other disadvantaged youth and presents an inspiring example of empowerment. “Zankey Faba” is an African Youth Network aiming to support disadvantaged young people to attain relevant life skills for transitioning to the labour market. The project is run in cooperation with the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Institute for Lifelong Learning and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. More
In just 18 months, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s Youth platform has grown to a flourishing movement of almost 27,000 engaged youth, passionate about cultural heritage, education, science, and communication and information. The platform brings together young women and men to discuss pertinent issues related to UNESCO’s sectors and to emphasize the vital role of youth in these fields. The platform also hosts the #YouthOfUNESCO storytelling initiative, which showcases youth leading innovative initiatives in their countries and communities. More
UNESCO: NET MED Youth Algeria- Training Sessions for Youth Organizations
UNESCO, through the Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED) project in Algeria organized three training sessions targeted specifically for youth organizations in July 2017. The trainings were aimed to help organizations acquire adequate methods, tools and knowledge to strengthen their actions. Training sessions were dedicated to Results Based Management (RBM) planning, as well as the integration of gender issues in development projects targeting youth. In addition, a national workshop was held for ongoing studies for youth organizations based on a multi-sectoral youth policy in Algeria.
UNESCO Biosphere Youth Excursions
UNESCO Addis Ababa in partnership with UNESCO Doha organized and implemented a UNESCO Biosphere Excursion for young professionals to visit Biosphere Reserves in Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates in 2015 and 2016. The excursion is now being expanded to cover all UNESCO site types, not just Biosphere Reserves, but also Geoparks and World Heritage Sites. Further educational excursions are currently being planned and will include UNESCO sites in Ethiopia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey. More
UNESCO: Youth Campaign for a Culture of Peace in Central Africa (Yaoundé, Cameroon)
UNESCO supported a national youth campaign organized in partnership with the Pan African Youth Network for a Culture for Peace (PAYNCoP) and the National Youth Council of Cameroon (YNC). The two-day event brought together 1000 youth from all social strata and was launched on 17 May 2017 at the Cameroon Cultural Centre in Yaoundé to promote a culture of peace among youth. The campaign aimed at raising awareness of a culture of peace to encourage youth to be actors in the construction and consolidation of peace and non-violence in Cameroon and Central Africa. The event concluded with a conference and debate on the culture of peace at the Yaoundé Soa University. More
UNFPA: Youth Bus Raises Awareness on Population Issues in Egypt
The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) Country Office in Egypt partnered with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Youth Peer Education network (Y-PEER) and successfully organized a “Population Awareness Bus Tour” covering 10 governorates in 10 Days. The event commemorated International Youth Day and National Population Day. The bus campaign- the first of its kind in Egypt- started a long journey from Aswan in southern part of Egypt until it reached the northernmost city of Alexandria. Focus was placed on the role of young people in the advocacy plans of abandoning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early marriage, awareness about family planning and civic engagement through different edutainment activities. The Population Bus campaign concluded with a policy dialogue between youth and high-level policy makers. More
UNFPA: Y-PEER United for Peace
The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) Country Office in Egypt in support of the Youth Peer Education network (Y-PEER) organized a reunion camp for 200 participants from Egypt and Syria. The event was held for Y-PEER members and used an “edutainment” approach under the theme: Youth, Peace and Security. The 6-day camp focused on team-building, interactive workshops on Gender Based Violence (GBV), Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and peacebuilding. During the camp, there was a "Take Action, Make a Change" photo competition on early marriage which was broadcast via social media channels that reached 72,665 participants and received 15,222 engagements. More
UNFPA in Latin America and the Caribbean Celebrates International Youth Day
The Latin America and the Caribbean Task Team on youth, with the support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Volunteers (UNV), performed two webinars with young people from the region as part of the International Youth Day celebrations. Young people attending the peace and security e-consultations discussed experiences and future perspectives concerning peacebuilding and security from a young vision. The discussions covered country and regional levels, and addressed the challenges youth faced in exercising their rights. The youth highlighted the value of Resolution 2250 as a tool to empower their participation in decision making and addressing problems that affect their lives. They endorsed the commitment to work together on peacebuilding in their countries. More
UNODC Launches Tool on International Youth Day to Help Communities Use Sport to Build Resilience of Youth
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s life skills training initiative is part of its global activities to prevent youth crime under the Doha Declaration Global Programme. The initiative focuses on sports to build resilience of youth by enhancing their life skills and increase their knowledge of the consequences of crime and drug use. A key outcome was to develop an evidence-based life skills training curriculum “Line Up Live Up”. As a result, UNODC launched its brand new Line Up Live Up Trainer Manual on International Youth Day. The manual is designed to assist coaches, trainers, youth workers and others professionals looking to use sport as a vehicle to help youth cope with challenges in everyday life More
UNCDF: Focus on Youth Entrepreneurs- Global Initiative for Youth
Under the theme "Youth Entrepreneurship & Self-employment", the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) launched a global campaign under the aegis of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth to promote actions needed to effectively enable young entrepreneurs to succeed and improve the sustainability and quality of self-employment opportunities. UNCDF interviewed young entrepreneurs in Senegal to learn more about their path to success. Learn more about what motivated youth such as Mohammed to start his own business. Watch the video here.
UNIDO: Entrepreneurs for Social Change
Entrepreneurs for Social Change (E4SC) is a one-year programme by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Fondazione CRT programme designed to support young entrepreneurs in the Euro-Mediterranean region, who are committed to creating employment opportunities while promoting nonviolent social change through their business activities. The participants get exposed to the tools required to start and scale a social business, meet like-minded people and engage with cutting-edge guest speakers and mentors. More
Youth in Action
Youth Economic Opportunities
At the 2017 UN Youth Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters held on the 11 August, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and Hilton previewed the 2017 Global Youth Wellbeing Index. As the Index executive summary makes clear, too many young people continue to be disconnected from vital skills and economic opportunities. Together with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the panel explored the role of tourism role in creating jobs and furthering entrepreneurship. The session also underscored the need to elevate youth voices and recognize their role in advancing the SDGs. More than 350 youth between 16 to 28 ages from around the world participated in the event. More
ILO: The Impact of Skills Training on Rural Young People in Morocco
This International Labour Organization (ILO) report assessed youth-focused skills training programmes in rural and semi-rural Morocco using findings from a randomized controlled trial. It studied the impact of youth employment interventions which delivered financial, life and entrepreneurial skills training, aiming to assist young people with the challenges they face during their transition from school to work. The report also explored the medium- to long-term impacts on a range of outcomes related to the financial inclusion, employability and human capital accumulation of rural young people. More
ILO: How to Get More Young People into Better Jobs
The International Labour Organization (ILO) publication Rising to the Youth Employment Challenge: New evidence on key policy issues examines new evidence on measures to promote youth employment, ranging from the growing trend of micro-business start-ups to the success of macroeconomic policies. The authors aim to tackle issues of youth unemployment and demonstrate that governments can effectively intervene to boost youth employment and reduce unemployment through action taken at the macro level. This is pertinent especially considering that two out of every five young women and men worldwide are unemployed or working but living in poverty. So how can we turn these trends around? That is the question the ILO publication seeks to answer in the new publication. More