New York, 30 April 2023 (TDI): The Baha’i International Community (BIC) has initiated a series of workshops aimed at exploring the role that young people can play in promoting constructive social change.
The first of these events, titled “Youth Can Move the World,” was held in partnership with the Global Futures Forum and SDSN Youth as part of this year’s ECOSOC Youth Forum, which concluded on April 27, 2023.
Each month, the series will focus on different thematic areas and invite participants to develop concepts and language for a BIC statement on youth. This statement will be released in conjunction with the United Nations Summit of the Future in 2024. The kick-off event focused on how young people can transform models of leadership and decision-making at the UN.
Also read: ECOSOC Youth Forum 2023
In her opening remarks, BIC Representative Lili Nkunzimana noted that young people are at the heart of a global society undergoing fundamental change. She emphasized that to tap into the transformative potential of rising generations, there needs to be a shift in paradigms around leadership and leadership development.
Discussions at the event were framed by several multilateral processes, including the UN Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda report, the formation of a UN Youth Office, the SDG Summit taking place in September, and the Summit of the Future scheduled for 2024.
Among the speakers was Daniel del Valle Blanco, Permanent Observer of the International Youth Organization for Latin America to the UN, who stated that young people are driving positive change and that humanity is at a key moment of transition.
The discussions were informed by a thought piece developed by the BIC, which explored conditions that will allow young people to lead the transformation of the concept and practice of leadership itself, as well as a case study on experiences of the Global Coalition for Youth, Peace, and Security. A summary of key themes that emerged from the discussions was circulated after the event.
One notable theme was the importance of trust in facilitating effective leadership and governance. Freya Scharrelmann, Advocacy and Protection Coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders noted that young people often move away from formal governance structures due to a lack of trust. She called for reflection on current structures to see how they can be improved.
The role of the community in advancing social progress was highlighted by Steve Chiu, United Nations Representative of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, who noted that every young leader has a community supporting them. He emphasized the importance of leadership traits centered on the value bes of being in a community with each other and notions of mutual aid.
In a recent tweet, Lachezara Stoeva, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC), expressed her gratitude to the young individuals who participated in the UN ECOSOC Youth 2030 Forum.
Stoeva acknowledged the importance of their honesty, perseverance, and commitment, stating that without their active involvement, the event would not have been possible. She further commended the participants for their energy and dedication, citing that it gives her and others hope that the future they aspire to achieve is indeed attainable.
Around 80 participants attended the hybrid event, including the BIC’s delegation to the ECOSOC Youth Forum. The “Youth Can Move the World” series builds on the “Youth are Pillars of Society” series held last year and responds in part to the UN Secretary-General’s recent policy brief on “Meaningful Youth Engagement in Policymaking and Decision-making Processes”. Upcoming installments of the series are tentatively scheduled for May 25, June 22, and July 14.