Tuesday, October 18, 2011

7th UNESCO Youth Forum Day 2

I apologize for any language error committed on this blog post, as I was writing these blogs immediately after each day of the conference, doing it until 2am for this particular post. Hence, I seek your humble understandings on any mistakes I've made on this post.

A. Opening Address Speaker: Mr David L. Hepburn, President of the UNESCO General Conference

David was extremely encouraging in the potentials youths have in creating the change they want to see.
He stated that all governments should:

1. Recognize that youths have the talents, competence, and ideas to create real change
2. Encourage and equip youths to take action
3. Recognize that change is only constant. Do not be afraid to support youth causes.

In addition, youths should:
1. Never again accept “No” as a response to drive change
2. Never fear to make your voices heard

A personal reflection of mine would be, how many adults often say that youths lack the experience to 
“Change the world”. That we should take this and that steps before we can ever think that we are wise enough to do so.

I do agree that youths lack the experience required to make wise and perhaps truly practical decisions. But we should recognize the facts that:
1. Youths are increasingly well connected, and hence more influential.
2. Youths are courageous, have great energy and are not limited to mental obstacles that prevents us from seeing hope and optimism in various issues in life
3. Youths creates change with the sincere intention to bring benefit to society rather than for selfish gains

Therefore rather than rejecting the various ideas of youths and suppressing the voices of youths, the government should instead teach youths:
1. The best/most effective ways to get themselves heard
2. Non-violent ways (Not necessary non-disruptive ways) of voicing their stands
3. Skills and competence to become effective change-makers
4. Becoming positive leaders of change
5. Ways to acquire objective information

And to encourage youths to:
1. Dream Big
2. Be Faithful
3. Take Action
4. Be the Change they Want

As shared by Ms Irina Bkova, UNESCO Director-General. As Matin Luther King said, “I have a dream!” Live your dream, this is the way you can change the world. Her emphasis was on the possibility of creating change, when we are really passionate and take active actions in doing so.

Mr Miguel Angel Carreon Sanchez reinforced the message by telling us that change starts from us. It is from being really disciplined in all the little things that are seemingly important to us, that we learn to accomplish BIG things which are important to others

B. The “legacy” of the International Year of Youth and the results of the high level meeting on youths

Among many speakers, Ms Nicola Shepherd provided many insightful ideas which the government can act take on:
1. Need to invest in youths – Education, training , employment, healthcare
2. Build partnerships with youths
3. Full participation of youths in decision-making
4. For full participation to become successful, youth development challenges must be addressed
5. Monitor and evaluate government’s impact on youths

Maria Kyprioton , Section for Youth, Sport & Physical education, Social and Human science sector UNESCO, wrapped up the morning discussion by placing emphasized on:
- Gender equality
- Conflict settings
- Vulnerable groups

C. How Youth Drives Change, Main Thematic Plenary

Among the other speakers, Prof Gunter Faltin, Free University of Berlin, Germany, made the deepest impression.

He introduced the new concept of social entrepreneurship with facts on a tea business which became profitable and more successful than even some of the other more popular brands.

He said that it is definitely possible to provide higher quality products, at lower price, fairly traded and environmental conservational factors in a business, and still succeed if the idea is great. In fact, all enterprises should strive to become socially responsible in the products they sell, how they treat their employees, and their general conduct of the business, etc.

I personal believe that more support, recognition and encouragement should be made by the government and companies of the private sectors (Both in Singapore and the world), so to promote and encourage social entrepreneurship.

Social Entrepreneurship is about identifying a social problem, and then develops innovations and a sustainable business model to solve that problem.

Its potential in creating rapid and wide spread change cannot be underestimated as it is less tied up with 
bureaucracy, relies on the normal operations of the market rather than the government, natural selection process of the best parties to lead the particular area of change, etc.

It is surprising how advance is Singapore in foremost setting a definition of Social Entrepreneurship in the community (And hence the setting of certain tangible measures and standards), to build the community of Social Entrepreneurs and provide various funding and mentorship sources to encourage social entrepreneurship. Therefore, I believe that our sophistication and best practice in this area is definitely a valuable contribution to the international scene.

Nevertheless, Singapore should step up its efforts in educating its citizens of the ideas and definition of social entrepreneurship, as well as clear out any wrongful assumptions of what social entrepreneurships are or are not.

From Ruth Jones the executive director of Social Venture Partner International (Through a personal meeting in the past), “It is a fallacy that all non-profits should become social enterprises! As we cannot deny that certain organizations could/should be best carried in the form of professionally ran non-profit organizations.

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