August 12th is the International Youth Day and this year's theme is "Youth Building Peace". With the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 in 2015, young men and women were further recognized as critical actors in resolving local, national, and international conflicts, preventing extremism, and are major drivers of achieving lasting peace worldwide. This year also commemorates young people's contributions to conflict prevention & management, sustainable peace, and as well as on social inclusion and justice.
The current youth population globally, about 1.8 billion people, is the largest in history and are seen to be a major force in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he is committed to the empowerment and inclusion of young people and starting by his appointment of the new UN Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wikramanyake - the 26-year old from Sri Lanka.
Opportunities and challenges
According to Wickramanyake, the current 1.8 billion young people in the planet poses both an amazing opportunity but also some challenges. The UN Youth Envoy highlighted that today, there are 73 million young people who are unemployed, over 600 million young people are living in conflict-affected setting, and over 400 million of them do not have access to essential health care services.
But young people are not just numbers in the statistics table, they are effective mobilizers of positive change and are influencing both their peers and other decision-makers through their innovative strategies and ideas.
Wickramanyake further states that young people should build bridges between communities and be the drivers for national reconciliation and prevention of conflicts. But governments must also develop avenues for the participation of young women and men in conflict prevention, resolution, and the promotion of social cohesion. And where they will be safe, their potentials will be maximized, and their rights protected.
Young people's creativity, passion, energy, and drive solves many world problems
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and spouse Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau have met passionate young people wherever they go and who are constantly finding creative ways to solve the challenges and problems of their communities from climate change to making gender equality a reality to building a just and inclusive world with much passion, energy, and drive.
Sophie Trudeau emphasized that young people are leaders in their own right but also encouraged them to listen in their intuition, by paying close attention to what really matters to them, and to question the people, institutions, and even the social media commentaries that hurts or makes them doubt their self worth
PM Trudeau then asks young people of how they see themselves as makers of positive change and further asked them of their vision for their communities and the world. He vouched that his government will provide all the tools young people need to make that difference.
Investing for the youth is investing for the country
The Philippine National Youth Commission Chairperson Aiza Seguerra serenaded the Mindanaoan youth in Iligan City as part of the country's celebration of the International Youth Day. Seguerra was earlier quoted to saying that investing in young people is actually investing for the country - noting that there is one young person in every three Filipinos. The approval of the current Philippine Youth Development Plan is one step further into this worthwhile investment.
Youth Commissioner James Ventura assured young people's voices, concerns, and issues on peace building and security will not only resonate in the office of the National Youth Commission but as well as other youth-serving agencies of the government and its partners.
Young people bridging the divide
Young people in civil society organizations play crucial role in ensuring that young people are in the center of discussion especially in developing policies. Joey dela Cruz, Executive Director of the International Youth Council Pilipinas Inc. emphasizes that the engagement of young people should remain meaningful and not just as a form of tokenism.