Youth, Peace, and Development
In recent years, ongoing global challenges such as the persistence of violent conflict, the impact of climate change, and the outstanding challenge of extreme poverty have called for the urgent need to reevaluate our approach and renew our commitment to global peace and development. After the rigorous post-2015 development agenda-building process, 193 world leaders adopted a game-changing commitment to end poverty, fight inequality, and stop climate change – in the form of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This integrated approach to addressing global challenges has underpinned peace and development as two sides of the same coin. Conflicts hold back development progress, while development can never be effectively achieved without peace and stability. Following a review of its peace-building architecture in 2015, the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council have endorsed the new concept of Sustaining Peace, which is described as “a goal and a process to build a common vision of a society […] which encompasses activities aimed at preventing, the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict.”
International peace and security have long been the foremost goal of the United Nations, ever since it was born out of the Second World War in 1945. Through peacekeeping missions, political negotiations, economic sanctions, and counter-terrorism efforts, the UN has led global efforts not only to promote peace, but also in building the security, development, and human rights institutions needed for long-term peace. Today, it is recognized that addressing all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental – particularly through meaningful multi-stakeholder engagement, further sets effective pathways towards peacebuilding and sustaining peace. As such, the UN has expanded the peace and security agenda to recognize the rights and importance of various groups affected by conflict, and those often marginalized from conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes, including refugees, women, and people with disabilities.
In particular, the world’s youth are disproportionately affected by conflict, with the median age in countries where conflicts are taking place currently below 25. In addition, youth are most commonly the targets of radicalization. Nevertheless, youth have constituted one of the groups most excluded from peace processes. Therefore, within the same year of the declaration of the 2030 Agenda, the UN Security Council adopted the groundbreaking Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security, which recognizes not only the rights and protection that should be afforded to youth affected by conflict, but also the role that youth can and should play in building lasting peace, security, and development.
With many countries across the globe facing new or ongoing conflicts, the upcoming session of The Youth Assembly will set a global precedent to provide youth with further capability to aid in efforts to mediate and prevent conflict. The Assembly seeks to reaffirm Resolution 2250’s call to increase representation of youth in decision-making at all levels, highlight the nexus between peace and development, and explore how groundbreaking new technology can be harnessed for efforts in peacebuilding, as well as wider areas of sustainable development.
With a global population of over 1.8 billion, young people possess the ambition and ability to take on society’s greatest challenges. In order to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda and sustainable peace, it is thus imperative to engage youth as stakeholders and leaders in the global movement for inclusive and sustainable development. Recognizing this talent and drive of youth as one of the world’s most underused resources, Friendship Ambassadors Foundation (FAF) has brought together young leaders working in line with the mission of the United Nations through its flagship program – The Youth Assembly – for the past sixteen years.
The 22nd Session of The Youth Assembly will once again serve as a platform to elevate the voices of young people in international dialogue, empower youth to advocate for future generations, and mobilize youth with the skills needed to be agents of impactful change.
Under the theme of Breaking New Grounds for Peace and Development, the 22nd Session will focus on building practical skills and exploring new technological and innovative strategies to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with an impetus on Sustaining Peace. Youth often lead in passion and raw talent, but too often do not receive the support needed to capitalize on their strengths and achieve the solutions their potential holds. Therefore, The Youth Assembly connects the world’s foremost young talent with each other and with leading professionals and practitioners in their fields. Through discussions, debates, skill-building exercises, and ideation challenges, young leaders gain the relevant knowledge, skills, resources, and international networks they need to take action and succeed in making their impact.
Over the course of The Youth Assembly, delegates will develop the following:
Networks - Connect with the most influential leaders, experts, and practitioners
Skills - Fuel their passion and work with groundbreaking tools, knowledge, training, and resources
Dialogue - Join a cross-sector and multi-stakeholder dialogue on current global development and peace-building efforts
Ideation - Create and design solutions that drive action for sustainable development
Impact - Develop and practice essential skills to make real impact in their communities and around the world
At The Youth Assembly, delegates will learn how to directly harness their skills to resolve the world’s contemporary challenges. A special focus will be given to Sustaining Peace, an area in which countries worldwide need new remedies and solutions, in addition to an increased and more meaningful youth engagement. The agenda will cover not only peace agreements and conflict mediation, but also laying the grounds for long-term peace through education, institution building, and sustainable development. Further topics covered will include addressing environmental degradation, finding relief for refugees, rapid urbanization, and bringing equality and diversity to all facets of society and leadership.
Building upon The Youth Assembly’s commitment to fostering youth action, an emphasis will be placed on building and strengthening tangible, pragmatic hard skills that can be put to immediate and effective use to solve local and global issues, as well as on fostering soft skills such as creativity, collaboration, social entrepreneurship, and developing a global mindset.
Additionally, the program will examine ways in which the latest technological developments can be harnessed by youth to initiate change in a fashion and scale unprecedented by previous generations. Youth are at the forefront of advancement in fields such as technology and data science, which evolve at a rapid pace and can increasingly be applied within the field of sustainable development. Therefore, youth must be trained and encouraged to seize this opportunity to apply innovation in the implementation of the SDGs.
Executive summaries and recommendations of the focal discussions at The Youth Assembly will be put forward following the conference. These resolutions will be made public and presented to relevant stakeholders within the spheres of youth, peace, and development so as to further expand the voices and knowledge of youth in international dialogue.
At The Youth Assembly, delegates will pledge to work toward the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They will also have the opportunity to participate in challenges to receive further support to carry out their individual projects. Overall, delegates will build up new skills and networks that they can capitalize on to achieve their respective goals for sustainable development.
Through these efforts, The Youth Assembly will seek to build long-term intergenerational and cross-sectoral partnerships to achieve the UN Agenda with hundreds of youth delegates from around the world, together with representatives from the public sector, private industry, academia, and civil society.
Delegates will gain new insight into challenges that the world needs to address, and be equipped with the knowledge, organizational, and entrepreneurial tools they need to develop forward-thinking solutions that can have a positive impact for generations to come. Delegates are called to continue their work beyond the conference as part of a global movement of young leaders and changemakers developing groundbreaking solutions to tackle the world's greatest challenges and build a better world.