By Essa al-Mannai /Doha
Having big ideas and a vision of how the world could be made a better place, while maintaining a fresh outlook on life are some of the traits that characterise youth.
Global peace and prosperity still seem achievable to them, if only consensus could first be reached on how to move forward.
If anything, the quest for peace and prosperity seems distant to many of us, hardened by the realities that we face today, as the world witnesses its gravest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
And yet, despite the obstacles, the fervent desire of young people to effect positive change is as powerful as ever.
It is time that this positive energy and creativity is recognised and harnessed for what it is – a force for good.
I believe it is imperative for the international community to invest in empowering the youth of today in order for them to assume their rightful role as global advocates of change.
Youth will inherit the status quo and should thus be given a voice in the policy dialogues which will shape their future.
As leaders of tomorrow, they must feel ownership of the decisions being made by the international community.
During the World Humanitarian Summit Global Youth Consultation Doha 2015, an effort co-ordinated by Reach Out To Asia (Rota), youth from across the globe called for the opportunity to assume leadership roles in addressing widespread humanitarian issues.
The consultation was held in co-operation with the UN Major Group for Children & Youth (UNMGCY), and saw more than 300 young men and women from over 80 countries converge to identify five main topics for reshaping the humanitarian agenda around the world, including: “‘Challenges on Meeting Humanitarian Needs”; “Humanitarian Effectiveness”; “Serving the Needs of People in Conflict”; “Transformation Through Innovations”; and “Reducing Vulnerability and Managing Crisis”. A reflection of this ideal is further embodied by the delegation of youth from Qatar, who have travelled to Turkey to attend the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) that is taking place today, where they will be given the opportunity to incorporate their views and recommendations into the UN secretary-general’s report and the overall recommendations for the World Humanitarian Summit.
International dialogues such as the WHS provide our youth with the opportunity to join stakeholders on the global stage to tackle current humanitarian challenges.
By granting youth the right to be a part of the solution to many of the challenges facing us today, we are not only giving them a platform to be heard, but also ensuring they are adequately equipped with an adequate understanding of policy-making, so as to become effective leaders in the future. Not only will youth attend the summit, Rota will also participate in sessions dedicated to the very subject of youth participation.
Empowering youth to undertake active roles in humanitarian efforts will mobilise and unite the world to affect positive change.
We must ensure they are brought to the table to be part of the international dialogue so that lasting solutions to address today’s global crises can be found.
It is time youth are granted a voice to speak up and be heard on issues that will impact their future - and the future of humanity as a whole.
l Essa al-Mannai is director of Reach Out To Asia (Rota)
Setting a forward-looking agenda for humanitarian action
Reach Out To Asia (Rota) will be taking part in the first Humanitarian Summit which will be held today and tomorrow in Istanbul, Turkey.
At the summit, global leaders will discuss how to effectively respond to major humanitarian challenges and how to be better prepared to meet challenges of the future.
Some of these challenges include: empowering women and girls and catalysing action to gender equality; adapting new approaches to respond to protracted crises and recurrent disasters, reducing vulnerability and managing risk by bridging the divide between development and humanitarian partners; securing adequate and predictable finance to save lives and alleviating suffering; reinforcing the centrality of protection in humanitarian action and increasing respect for international humanitarian law and adapting to new challenges through local, inclusive and context specific responses.
Through his participation at the summit, Essa al-Mannai, executive director at Rota, aims to encourage youth involvement in the international dialogue and to give youth the opportunity to assume leadership roles in addressing widespread humanitarian issues.
He also aims to lay emphasis on youth’s ability to contribute to impactful solutions in addressing global humanitarian crises.
On the first day of the summit, al-Mannai will give a speech and chair a side event, organised by Rota titled “Youth as Actors: Volunteering in Humanitarian Settings”.The side event will include a panel discussion as well as a youth roundtable and will touch on approaches and methods of gaining deeper and wider participation of youth as volunteers in humanitarian settings.
During the second day of the summit, al-Mannai will take part in a special session titled, “Transforming Humanitarian Action with and for Young People”.The session will focus on highlighting the outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit and Rota’s efforts to include the voices of young people, by allowing them to voice their ideas and concerns, allowing them to help shape the summit outcomes first hand and giving them the opportunity to reshape the humanitarian agenda.
The purpose of the summit is to set a forward-looking agenda for humanitarian action to collectively address future humanitarian challenges and to build a more inclusive and diverse humanitarian system committed to humanitarian principles.
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