Youths needed to build peace here

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Participants at the workshop.

Peace cannot be achieved without the participation of young women and men, a peace-building workshop was told yesterday. Statesman, former politician, and former Speaker of Parliament Sir Paul Tovua was opening the half-day UN Peacebuilding Programme, ‘Supporting Peaceful and Inclusive Transition in Solomon Islands’, in Honiara yesterday.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organised the workshop in cooperation with the Solomon Islands National University, Ministry of Women, Youths, Children and Family Affairs and the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace.

 “I have every confidence that our emerging leaders can prevent violence and build peace,” Sir Paul said.

“We cannot build peace without the participation of young women and men,” he added.

“A high number of our young people have limited or no opportunities for education, training or employment.

“If young people are ignored they can be a hindrance. We will never go wrong in being more inclusive of young people in peace-building efforts,” Sir Tovua stated.

The workshop concluded with calls for collaboration between service providers and need for young people to be more involved in program design, implementation and monitoring.

Participants at the workshop agreed on three broad themes for improving youth peace-building; socio-economic development, democracy and governance, and partnerships.

These themes will form the basis of work and act as guiding principles for the UN’s work on youth and peace-building.

Participants committed to continuing the discussion after the workshop by further engaging with youths and other key stakeholders.

Azusa Kubota, UN Country Manager, highlighted that around two thirds of Solomon Islanders are aged under 30 and that a critical part of the UN’s work is to engage young people to express their views and be agents of change in building a better world.

“I hope this gathering and our new peace-building programme enable greater information sharing as we work together to engage youth to shape the future of Solomon Islands.

“My thanks to SINU for hosting the event and to all participants,” Ms Kubota said.

“Young people were instrumental in the drafting of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Young women and men, including the most marginalised, have and will continue to play a major role as agents of change for peace,” she said.

The workshop also heard from the Commissioner of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, Frank Prendergast, on the crime prevention strategy.

“The RSIPF’s prevention strategy involves building collaborative partnerships with communities by entering into real dialogue with people, listening to their concerns and working together to mitigate issues.

“Young people are key stakeholders on national, provincial, village and ward crime prevention committees,” Mr Prendergast said.

Kristina Sogavare and Lysa Wini from the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group presented on the work of their group in working through the processes of the national parliament to give youth (including men) a democratic voice to effect change.

“Our group is giving young women the tools to be linked to policy makers.

“We are organising training on communications and advocacy, policy and leadership, and women in leadership,” Ms Sogavare said.

 Ms Wini added, “as a part of our work we are assessing how we can best make change within parliament.”

The workshop included presentations on community policing and crime prevention, government youth policies, challenges and issues faced by urban youth, young people and the national parliament, and the perceptions of peace-building from youth across the provinces.

It also marked the first step in implementing the youth objective of the UN’s Peace-building Programme and forms part of the United Nations’ efforts with Solomon Islands to implement the National Development Strategy.

The programme will run over the next 18 months and will give young people the resources and opportunities to be a part of the country’s peace-building processes and to be leaders in their communities.

By STEPHEN DIISANGO/SOLOMON STAR

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