By Vincy Abraham
In November 2018, I was chosen along with over 5000 people from across the world to participate in the second edition of the World Youth Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The World Youth Forum is an initiative of the Egyptian Government under the auspices of His Excellency President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and was organized by the members of the President’s Leaders Program.
The objective of the 4-day Forum was to highlight the role of young people as “thought leaders” and to incorporate their ideas, experiences, and recommendations in critical policies. I was able to participate in numerous sessions and learned from several leading advocates in technology, disability policy, the influence of art & culture, water, ecology, and peace – all of us gathered under one roof with the belief that young people have the potential to lead the change.
For me, it was incredible to have represented Water Youth Network here on one the most challenging issues of today – post-conflict peacebuilding and societal development. As a professional in the water sector, it is not hard to miss the obvious linkage between water and conflict in today’s world. It is in fact, for this reason, Water Youth Network has been playing a crucial role in engaging young people in water issues to ensure that their voices and views are recognized at each level – it is the Global Focal Point for SDG 6 at the UN MGCY.
I used the speaking opportunity to explore Water Youth Network’s objective of intergenerational dialogue as a model of involving young people in peacebuilding and peace monitoring processes. I also drew attention to the importance of social and civic education as a means of advocacy in the achievement of basic entitlements for a society resurrecting from conflict, in keeping with my experience on the field.
The link to my full speech can be found here.
Reflecting back, I believe my time at the forum filled me with tremendous hope that increasingly the global leadership is recognizing young people as leaders of today (not just – leaders of tomorrow), youth as thought leaders and placing immense emphasis on youth involvement in decision-making and policies.
Furthermore, I was amazed by the hospitality of the organizers, the warmth of the Egyptian people, the wonderful company of young people from across the world and the captivating beauty of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
A big thank you to the Board of Water Youth Network, UNESCO and the World Youth Forum Organizing Committee for the opportunity to participate and share my perspective on the role of young people as agents of change!