From 29th to 31st October 2013, Paris played host to the eighth UNESCO Youth Forum. 500 young participants assembled there to discuss "Youth and Social Inclusion: Civic Engagement, Dialogue and Skills Development".
For the first time, the event saw the involvement of a delegation of youth section of New Humanity (Youth for a United World), inspired by the work they have been undertaking with the United World Project: their initiative to promote the ideal of universal fraternity all over the world.
In the course of the event, the 500 young participants drew up a series of recommendations for the member states of UNESCO, to be presented during the 37th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, scheduled from 5th to 20th November. The participants also worked together to select fifteen worthy youth projects, which have received the “8th UNESCO Youth Forum Label”certification of project quality and excellence.
The participation in the Forum of Youth for a United World stemmed from the developments taking place in the United World Project, also at UNESCO. The Forum was an important opportunity to bear witness to their direct commitment in the construction of a new society, an original contribution to this "workshop of ideas to change the world".
Joaquín Salzberg, from Argentina, explains: «we made some proposals for the recommendations by drawing on our own direct experiences. Particular interest was raised by the proposal to promote spaces for intergenerational participation, which can transcend the “young people only”dimension, detached, as it is, from adult reality. I feel that our participation in these spaces can help to give more vigour to many ideas that we share with UNESCO.”
Anne-Cécile Geffard, from France, was very impressed, for her part, by the opening and closing speeches of the Forum. «It was really something to hear Mrs Irina Bokova, Director-general of UNESCO, speak about concepts which have strong affinities to our ideals: the world must live as a single human family, to gain peace we must open our hearts and love one another, it is the small concrete actions that build a better world,...»
«I was struck - continues Anne Cecile - even more greatly by the words of Mrs Katalin Bogyay, president of the General Conference, who I had heard at Genfest 2012 in Budapest, in front of a crowd of 12,000 representatives of Youth for a United World from all corners of the world. At the end of the Forum she spoke to us all of “Ubuntu”, the African value which expresses the conviction that 'I am because we are', which is also at the core of our project Sharing With Africa, the next stage of the United World Project.»
«What made the biggest impression on me – she concludes – was meeting so many young people who firmly believe in their ideas and in their ability to change the world. I felt very strongly that this change is possible and it starts with me, where I am, with what I can do right now ».
The results of this youth forum will be part of the input which the General Conference of UNESCO – composed of the ambassadors of 195 countries – will take into consideration in setting out new directions for the work of the organization.
On this point, Shemila Cheng from Hong Kong sums up: «These initiatives allow us to see how, even here, there is a road leading to a united world, a road followed by so many youngsters from all countries. Being there, so different from each other, but so commited to resolving the problems together, this made us truly feel like one big family. On this journey we too wish to make our contribution».