Ludovic Brandhot is a national UN Volunteer serving with the local government in Mbrès, Central African Republic. For more than four years, instability persists in the country. Approximately 60% of the territory remains occupied by armed groups. In the prefecture of Nana-Grébizi, in the heart of the country, clashes between rebel groups in 2016 and March 2017 completely paralyzed the activities in the city. The civilian population was trapped. Today, te humanitarian situation continues to be unbearable.
The world’s youth population is at an all-time high, with 1.8 billion people aged 15 to 29. Most importantly, close to 87% of them live in developing countries, and 13% are unemployed. Both poverty and unemployment are well-known breeding grounds for conflict.
As you will be able to read in the stories below, volunteerism offers valuable opportunities for youth engagement, leadership and participation to contribute to the development of peaceful and inclusive societies.
Three national UN Volunteers are working to empower adolescent girls by raising awareness amongst adolescents, their families and local authorities on women’s rights, and addressing issues such as early marriage, sexuality and violence against women. Their work contributes to the Saqilaj B’e Joint Programme (JP) implemented by UN Women, PAHO/WHO, UNESCO, UNFPA and UNICEF, together with the Government of Guatemala.
To mark International Youth Day, India launches with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) its first national online volunteering platform, a first of its kind in India and for UNV. The platform serves as a marketplace for non-profit organizations and volunteers to connect, allowing youth networks, volunteer involving organizations, civil society organizations, public institutions and State governments to get support from online volunteers completely free of charge.
One international UN Volunteer, ten community volunteers, and one UN Online Volunteer are running the Start-Up Choihona project, which has so far organized two national entrepreneurial competitions promoting innovation and youth employment. Quarterly competitions offer an opportunity for new entrepreneurs to present their unique business ideas to a panel of judges. Given the chance to pitch their ideas, Tajik entrepreneurs have the chance to get feedback on whether their business ideas could work and gain access to valuable networks of potential business partners and investors.
In Mali, the road to peace and reconciliation has been wrought by a 2012 military coup and insecure borders, combined with a proliferation of small arms illegally imported or stolen from unsecured stockpiles. This, however, has not stopped the Malian people from championing democracy—the country is in a period of transition geared towards the re-establishment of constitutional order and democratic governance. In 2013, Presidential and Parliamentary elections were held in the country, representing a milestone on the path to peace.
In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) deployed 41 national and international UN Volunteers, 5 of them UN Youth Volunteers, to serve in environmental initiatives in Africa. Youth volunteers are the backbone of environmental action, raising awareness on climate change, responsible consumption and production, and preservation of land, forests and water resources.
Fostering participation and social justice in conflict-affected communities
When I was accepted for the assignment to develop content about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Colombia, I was very excited. For 17 weeks, I was expected to create social media posts about each of the 17 SDGs, share information, facts, photos, statistics and/or videos about SDGs in Colombia. Since I am Mexican, I also included content from my own country.
While roughly a fifth of Cambodia’s population is estimated to live in poverty, reportedly 300,000 young people enter the labour market seeking job opportunities every year. The report “Volunteerism and youth employment in Cambodia” presents ways to leverage volunteerism as an essential mechanism for skills development amongst youth.