Over 500 young professionals, entrepreneurs, social activists, and student leaders representing 80 countries examined the role of youth globally in development and peacebuilding in meetings at the United Nations. The forums are part of the 4th International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA).
The UN programs acknowledged and advanced the vision of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who has said, “The time has come to integrate youth voices more meaningfully into decision-making processes at all levels.”
The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ambassador Ahmed Alhendawi, called for youth to become global citizens since so many global problems are multi-dimensional and interconnected. “I see eight or nine burning conflicts affecting everyone in the world,” he said, adding that it was difficult to speak of peace and prosperity without getting to the root causes of these issues.
Mr. James Flynn, president of Global Peace Foundation (GPF) International, drew attention to a global “values deficit.” Noting that technology, while bringing great benefits, was value-neutral he pointed to a “significant gap between our external development and our ethical maturity.”
Referencing the program theme, “Moral and Innovative Leadership: Vision, Service, and Entrepreneurship,” Mr. Flynn emphasized the importance of values and integrity in leaders. He cited GPF founder and chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, who said, “Moral leadership is more precious for the future of a nation than gold, diamonds, or oil. It is guided by a common vision that reflects the most fundamental human aspirations.”
Seven principles of leadership were outlined by H.E. Simona-Mirela Miculescu, permanent representative of Romania to the UN. Among them were finding a purpose and developing the habit of mind to support it; the “art of barn-raising,” when a community works together for a common purpose; and “giving it away” by encouraging and empowering others to succeed also.
“Our world needs an army of highly trained warriors of peace who can effectively lead change,” she concluded.
Reinforcing the theme of moral leadership, Rt. Hon. Jacob L’Okori, deputy speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, noted that true heroes are celebrated for selflessness. He noted that their biggest achievements were as models for others to follow, building people of character rather than things.
He said that since our future is shared, so is our responsibility for it. We had to agree on the road to be taken and travel it together. To illustrate his point he quoted an African proverb, “if you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel with others.”
H.E. Marcelo Scappini, deputy permanent representative of Paraguay to the UN, greeted participants, noting that the current youth generation in Paraguay, as in many nations, was the largest ever. “Vision, service and entrepreneurship are key to a sustainable world of peace and prosperity,” he said. The Paraguay Permanent Mission to the UN was the lead sponsor of the program, joined by 19 other Permanent Missions as co-sponsors.
In the Youth Plenary that followed, ten participants presented initiatives in a variety of fields that they had launched or were involved in. April Wright described DoSomething.org’s efforts to get youth involved in their communities.
Shana Dressler, founder of Social Innovative Collective, said she was “blown away by how entrepreneurship could be used as an instrument for good.” Her group works to understand the culture of the people they serve so as to build cooperative and effective relationships.
Rachel Baxter had founded Conscious Magazine online to tell stories of people overcoming challenges and making a difference to raise and inspire a rising generation of young leaders.
Christopher Gorder grew up in Nigeria, wanted to make a difference and saw a way to do it. He is now chief global water officer of Charity: Water, which provides clean water globally. The project relies on private donations, 100 percent of which go to the field.
Over five hundred young leaders representing 80 countries are taking part in the 4th IYLA, with programs in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York from August 11-20, 2014. The program highlights the importance of values-based and creative leadership and gives participants insight into the workings of government and civil society leadership at the highest levels.
The Co-Conveners of the program are the Global Peace Foundation and the Global Young Leaders Academy, with support of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth and the World Bank Youth to Youth Community.
Supported by UNESCAP and UNESCO, the next IYLA is being held in Thailand October 27 – 31 and will convene again in Paraguay, Nov 18-24 in conjunction with the Global Peace Convention.
For further information, contact:
Global Peace Foundation USA
Director of Youth Division