UN promotes youth volunteerism development and peace at Asia-Pacific forum

Photo Credit: UN ESCAP

More than 80 million young people of working age in the Asia-Pacific region are unemployed and in several countries youth are as much as seven times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Lacking sufficient economic and social opportunities, many of them are forced into high-risk and vulnerable forms of employment, while others have given up on the job search altogether.

Recognizing these challenges, the United Nations brought 300 participants from all sectors of society and from over 40 nations together for a forum in Bangkok this week to enhance knowledge and strategies with regard to youth participation in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and to form cross-regional and cross-cultural youth service networks in the region.

The ‘Asia-Pacific Forum on Youth Volunteerism to Promote Participation, Development and Peace’ was organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in collaboration with UNESCO, the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) and the Global Young Leaders Academy.

Among the participants were representatives of government agencies dealing with youth issues, civil society, development partners and the private sector, who engaged in lively debates and discussions on enhancing partnerships in the sectors of environment, health, disaster response, peace and development, entrepreneurship and education.

Following these discussions, participants established the Asia-Pacific Peace Service Alliance, a group of partnerships made up of young people across the region committed to serving their communities through volunteerism.

The Forum also recommended multi-stakeholder public-private partnerships in the Alliance, as well as joint actions by partnering youth agencies of ASEAN, the Peace Corps, the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), FK Norway and those from Australia Singapore and other countries.

“Today we celebrate young people, while reaffirming our commitment to a better future for them and our future generations,” said Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar during her opening remarks.

“Without youth playing an active role in the development process, we cannot progress or build the future we want,” said Dr. Akhtar. “Tapping youth potential is critical to shape our shared destiny, as they are a source of new ideas, talent and inspiration. Harnessing youth energy, enthusiasm and expertise is vital for global and regional productivity and prosperity. For ESCAP and the United Nations, a dynamic youth agenda is vital to ensure the success of post-2015 sustainable development.”

In his keynote address, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, former ASEAN Secretary-General added: “We are pleased to launch the Asia-Pacific Peace Service Alliance of multilateral partners that will put youth at the forefront of development and peace. Let us commit our youth to a useful cause for humanity.”

Mr. Ingill Ra, partnerships coordinator for GPF, also stated that the Alliance, will “engage the community of youth in the region to take decisive action through partnerships that harness their full potential to promote sustainable development and peace.”

A post-forum report will be prepared by ESCAP and the co-conveners to summarize best practices, key findings, outcomes and recommendations to guide the further development of youth volunteerism across the region.