The second NYS 2018, convened by the Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) concluded successfully in Colombo on Saturday (21). The Summit which emphasized the Summit theme ‘Sustainable Peace and Development’ for a better nation, has proposed the Ministry of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages to develop a cohesive and dedicated minority inclusive youth and peace building policy in line with the National Youth Policy 2014. The proposal is an outcome of the active engagement of nearly 500 young leaders from across the country belonging to different backgrounds and ethnicities, who participated in the dialogue.
The two day National Youth Summit held at the BMICH and at the Department of Government Information respectively, was an endeavor of SDJF along with its partner organizations including Ministries, Embassies, Universities, INGO’s and local NGO’s, aimed to create a platform for youths to reflect on the Summit theme, and to encourage youth from different ethnicities to meet, learn and be part of a wider peace building network, demonstrating their shared missions, showcasing innovative and creative solutions towards peace building and reconciliation.
Speaking about the engagement of youth in peace and reconciliation, His Excellency David McKinnon - High Commissioner to Sri Lanka said “Youth are equal stakeholders in the state and they have a lot to contribute.” Youth are often seen as activists and not much in policy development process, he added.
Ms. Paula Bulancea, Deputy Representative for UNICEF Sri Lanka; Mr. M. Y. S. Deshapriya, Secretary of the Ministry of National Coexistence, Dialog and Official Languages: Prof. Shahid Rasool, Director, Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) India; Dr. Saumiya Liyanage, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of the Visual and Performing Arts and Mr. Waruna Alahakoon, Deputy Director of Education (Drama and Theatre), Ministry of Education also addressed the gathering. Representatives from the U.S Embassy in Colombo also attended the Summit.
During the Inauguration Day, two learning manuals focusing on Forum Theatre and on Youth and Peace building were launched. The first copies were handed over to the Chief Guest and other guests by Mr. Waruna Alahakoon. The manuals were developed to help young people to understand pluralistic values through arts and culture.
The Chief Guest for Day 2, Ms. Ritsu Nacken, Representatives of UNFPA Sri Lanka and the Head of UN Youth Agenda in Sri Lanka in her speech highlighted that youth have so much of energy, new ideas and goodwill to contribute to the country. “We believe unlocking this youth potential is the key to sustainable peace and development,” she said.
The sessions showcased youth involvement in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), through 7 parallel sessions under four broader themes; Youth Innovation in Peace building and Promoting Equality; Youth as Peace Allies; Youth Peacebuilding Networks and Role of the Youth in Peace Building & Promoting SDGs.
Prof. Shahid Rasool, Director, Commonwealth Educational Media Center for Asia (CEMCA) – India, addressed the gathering on the importance of skill building of youth for inclusive development and peace building agenda and overcome unemployment issues in Sri Lanka.
During the sessions youths exchanged their peacebuilding experiences and came up with innovative strategies to transform the nation into a peaceful place with their involvement in various peacebuilding mechanisms.
The Summit concluded with an awards evening recognizing the efforts of those youngsters who contributed for SDJF’s peacebuilding programs.
The feedback gathered from partner organizations and participants stressed on ways to take forward the UN2250 resolution, in which the UN Security Council urges its member states to consider ways to give youth a greater voice in decision-making at the local, national, regional and international levels.
The U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Canadian High Commission, Neelan Thiruchchelvam Trust, World Vision Sri Lanka, WUSC Sri Lanka, and Commonwealth Media Educational Centre for Asia (CEMCA) supported the second National Youth Summit 2018, financially.
Pix by: Ajith Senevirathne