Recently the Foundation joined a week of activities celebrating the legacy of Dag Hammarskjöld and his colleagues around the 57th anniversary of their deaths. In collaboration with United Nations Information Center and Global Platform Zambia, the Foundation organised a two-day event on the topic of Implementing the youth, peace and security agenda: youth agency and leadership and the role of partnerships.
Being inspired by peers
‘We are often good at pointing out what is not working. We need to be better at coming to the table with the solutions.‘ That is how one of the participants started the conversation during an interactive workshop with young people from Zambia and the region on how they can build on international policy processes, specifically Security Council Resolution 2250 and the global Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security. The workshop provided an opportunity for the participants to learn about other initiatives working to promote the inclusion of youth and to share experiences on how best to advocate for greater youth engagement at the local and national levels. Participants identified recommendations from the Progress Study most relevant for Zambia—including greater economic and political inclusion, support and capacity building of youth initiatives, more research and data collection on how youth are engaging in their communities and creative funding mechanisms to support youth organisations and initiatives—and discussed what is needed to take these forward in their country and the region. They emphasised that simplifying the language of the resolution would better allow them to share its messages with their peers and supported findings outlined in the Progress Study that young people want to be engaged across all areas of politics, peace and development.
Connecting the dots
To share some of the messages and takeaways from the workshop, the young people were joined on the second day by diverse stakeholders representing international and national NGOs, academia, the United Nations and other intergovernmental organisations for a participatory dialogue seminar. Discussions focused on what is needed to develop coordinated approaches across youth and non-youth actors in advocating for the inclusion of young people in peace and development and advancing relevant recommendations outlined in the Progress Study. The need for youth and youth organisations to identify common goals and strategies and speak with one voice in order to effectively engage with other stakeholders was emphasised by several participants. Youth participants expressed an interested in learning from other non-youth civil society efforts, as well as youth initiatives in other countries and regions of the world, on how best to advocate for their interests as a group. More is also needed to strengthen and build on research and data collection efforts on how youth are already engaging in the country and ensure that this information is shared across the country among various socio-economic groups of society.
From Progress Study to Action
Participants hope to develop an action plan on what is needed to develop and strengthen collaboration onyouth, peace and security in Zambia, building on the reflections and discussions. With the official launch of the full global Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security in New York at the end of the week, it will be wonderful to see how the fruits of this collaborative and participatory process is translated in various contexts. The next step is for diverse stakeholders, including young people themselves, to take action to ensure that youth are meaningfully included in decision making and peace and development. It is heartening that the workshop participants plan to take an active role in developing and advocating for solutions. Going forward, the Foundation will continue to explore how it can continue to support these and other efforts to strengthen youth engagement and implement the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security.