Empower, Engage and Educate Youth for Better Intercultural Dialogue
At the archipelago of Malta, a historic hub of intercultural exchanges and of diversity, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova has highlighted once again the important role and the value of youth in building peaceful societies and countering violent extremism.
On 24 October, the capital city of Malta, Valetta, became the setting for the two-day 2016 Mediterranean Forum for Intercultural Dialogue organized by the Anna Lindh Foundation. During her official visit to the country, and as the forum’s guest of honor, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, took part in the opening plenary, addressing the 800 participants from civil society organizations, international organizations and decision-makers.
“UNESCO is convinced that education is the best way to disarm processes that lead to violent extremism, prejudice and ignorance,” emphasized Ms. Bokova. “The solutions starts in schools. The world must now reach out to youth to teach them about peace, to empower them and civil society with knowledge and values of respect for others.”
The 2016 Mediterranean Forum aims at activating connections among the next generation of leaders and encouraging people-to-people exchanges in the region in order to increase youth involvement and participation in improving intercultural relations and dialogue. With its 800 participants, the Forum is among the biggest gatherings of actors working on intercultural dialogue.
Building a new narrative for the Mediterranean is key. Ms Bokova engaged with the participants, calling the international community to act through global citizenship education and the teaching of history by taking forward Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education.
Recalling the spirit of the United Nations Day, celebrated annually on 24 October, the Director-General underlined that the advancement of human rights, mutual respect and tolerance must include and involve youth, not only as beneficiaries, but most importantly as partners. Ms. Bokova called tThe international community to collaborate, to involve all stakeholders, and to teach youth competences and skills that will allow them to engage in constructive and positive dialogue.
Ms. Bokova stressed the important role that the media plays, as well, in disseminating messages of tolerance, diversity and peace. Through flagship projects and campaigns such as the Teacher’s Guide to PVE, NET-MED Youth and #Unite4Heritage, the Director-General underlined the need to help young men and women create and disseminate their own narratives of inclusion and shared heritage, and invited the youth of the Mediterranean region to be the “custodians of world heritage”.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.