The Role of the Private Sector in Advancing Young People’s Role in Peacebuilding Multi Stakeholder Working Group

Globally young people are disproportionately affected by conflict. In the ‘Data for Youth, Peace and Security: A summary of research findings’ produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace we learnt that 408 million young people live in areas affected by armed conflict or organised violence already in 2017. Around the earth, this is nearly one young person in four who will have to cope with and face the effects of muiltiple and intersecting crises.

UNICEF reported in their ‘Prospects for Children in the Polycrisis: A 2023 Global Outlook’, that young people will face restrictions due to civil society’s actions, pandemics, evolving climate crisis induced conflict and displacement. Within this context young people are important in building and sustaining peace and take responsibility on many levels. Examples of this are their active participation in mediation, research, aid distribution, psycho-social support, inclusive economic development and political mobilisation. These roles, and the impact of young people in peacebuilding is well documented in a growing field of research including, ‘We are here: An integrated approach to youth-inclusive peace processes’ and A Study on the Roles and Contributions of Youth to Peace and Security in Africa: An Independent Expert Report Commissioned by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.

However, this group often faces political, social and economic exclusion, and limited or no access to funding. This confines their work and ability to influence wider peacebuilding work at a time when the world is most in need of these contributions. Forming equitable partnerships with diverse stakeholders can support young people to overcome these barriers.

The private sector is frequently identified as an important partner. There is a long-standing recognition of the role of private sector actors in the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), through investment, alignment of business practices and public-private partnerships. Yet, relatively little work has been done to identify the different roles the private sector could play in supporting youth-led organisations and youth-led peacebuilding and development solutions more broadly. Both private sector actors and the peacebuilding community are limited by a lack of engagement, understanding, and capacity to build partnerships between themselves.

During 2022, the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, together with partners on the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security Taskforce on Financing (UNICEF, UN Peacebuilding Support Office, Search for Common Ground, and Justice Call), began a Multistakeholder Working Group to explore what is needed to engage the private sector to advance the role of young people in peacebuilding.

Purpose and Vision

The Working Group aims  (1.) to identify, research and recommend potential options for additional resource mobilisation and partnerships with the private sector to advance the role of young people in peacebuilding; and (2.) to mobilise resources and partnerships and help strengthen knowledge management and advocacy through coordination. This includes identification and mobilisation of resources for existing initiatives and efforts. Its vision is to foster a more coordinated ecosystem of impact investors, corporates, civil society, governments, and multilateral entities to help stimulate private sector investment in the role of young people in peacebuilding.

The first phase of work is underway. A report with recommendations for funding, investment and partnership opportunities with the private sector for this Working Group to focus on will be made public in the fall of 2023.

Steering Committee

A Steering Committee represented by governments, multilateral institutions, private sector actors, and civil society organisations will guide the Working Group. The Steering Committee was selected by the founding partners to reflect the diverse expertise that will be required to mobilise work in this field, including previous engagement with private sector actors, experience working with youth inclusion in peacebuilding and development and experience in mobilising peacebuilding financing. Committee membership will draw on institutional and individual representation with expertise and experience in this field.

The Steering Committeee in its current constellation comprises civil society represented by Alejandra Gutierrez (Civicus Youth Ambassador), Daniel Hyslop (Interpeace), Saumya Aggarwal (United Network of Young Peacebuilders) and Saji Prelis (Search for Common Ground). The private sector representatives are Dr. Ehud Gachugu (Kenya Private Sector Alliance), Mandar Apte (Cities4Peace), and Pascal Murasira (Norrsken). The resprentatives from the multilateral institutions are Frederik Teufel (African Development Bank), Vassil Touchtchiev (European Union External Action Service), Nadi Albino (Generation Unlimited) and Aanchal Bhatia (United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office) and the governmental representatives are Luz Andujar (Dominican Republic), Murray Sterley (South Africa), Hilary Hambrick Taft (United States) and Alan Ebun George (Sierra Leone).