Webinar 'Youth and Sustainability in COVID Era' Marks Celebration of International Youth Day 2020

Today's youth face extraordinary global challenges. Worsening modern conflicts, climate change, increasing gaps of inequality, and now COVID-19. The pandemic has brought with it a lot of uncertainty for young peoples' futures. It has caused significant economic and social impacts, to which young people are particularly vulnerable, with many at risk of being left behind in education, economic opportunities as well as health and well-being at a critical stage in life development.

This year's International Youth Day theme put a spotlight on youth engagement. In celebration, RCE Greater Western Sydney and RCE Srinagar co-hosted a webinar 'Youth and Sustainability in a COVID Era', which was attended by over 100 participants across the Asia-Pacific, including 37 RCEs within the region.

Mr. James Young-Drew, youth representative of RCE Waikato delivered the keynote address, where he highlighted the fact "young leaders are leading change" and how "we need to move beyond engagement into creating leaders".

The webinar featured 17 youth presenters from RCE Sundarbans, RCE Hangzhou, RCE Srinagar, RCE East Kalimantan, RCE Yogyakarta, RCE Hyogo-Kobe, RCE Kitakyushu, RCE Greater Gombak, RCE Kuching, RCE Waikato, and RCE Sakon Nakhon.

The presentations strongly highlighted RCEs' efforts in supporting ESD, growing partnerships and addressing the SDGs. It also showed how RCEs are working to build young people’s capabilities, particularly women and Indigenous communities, by sharing knowledge and supporting practical and engaging activities, from improving livelihoods to action on climate change.

RCEs are also adapting to the way in which young people’s worlds are so digitally connected to support some of these activities, through online Zoom conferences and social media platforms. However the online transition hasn’t always been positive and RCEs recognised the gaps in digital inequality to which they are also trying to address.

“Young people and RCEs are responding to the crisis in innovative and positive ways. We aren’t letting COVID-19 stop us! We are persisting despite the challenges and uncertainty to help others and do what we are passionate for.” commented Ms. Brittany Hardiman, RCE Greater Western Sydney.

Presentations from the webinar can be viewed here. Interested RCEs can also get involved with their youth in the global RCE Youth SDG Challenge.

All RCEs are encouraged to have a formalised youth focal point to serve as a point of contact for youth seeking to network and engage with cross-RCE initiatives and activities. The current list of RCEs that have appointed RCE Youth Coordinators can be viewed here. To designate a youth focal point (for those RCEs who do not currently have one), please download the RCE Youth Coordinator form and submit it to the RCE Service Centre at RCEServiceCentre@unu.edu.

(Photo: Fundraising for laptops. Credit: RCE Greater Gombak).