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In Focus: Thousands Of Young Leaders Aim To Be Models For Social Change In Global Youth Summit

In Focus: Thousands Of Young Leaders Aim To Be Models For Social Change In Global Youth Summit

It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes thousands of young leaders to change a nation. Collective impact projects powered by the Filipino youth are far too few, and the recent Global Youth Summit aims to change that with a million-peso seed grant competition and the power of zero.

"We're gonna dare to show impact," says David Caprara, Global Peace Foundation International Vice President for Strategic Partnerships.

"Along with launching these alliances and partnerships and fueling the role of young leaders, I dare to say that the Philippines and SM... will set the model even for the UN itself." 

Caprara spoke about the power of zero, which aims to address the lack of concrete models in solving persistent issues of countries like the Philippines.

"The power of zero is [sic] young people should create their own model, show its impact, and then they become a model," says Caprara.

[related: In Focus: Know How YOU Can Help Save The Earth]

The Global Youth Summit 2017 launched a grant competition to sustainable programs developed by innovative youth. The competition awarded P1 million seed money to the following winners:

- 5EBig Project, an innovative community program meant to raise TESDA employment rate and TVET course enrollees

- Community Poultry and Garden for a Healthy Future, a garden and poultry farm to curb malnutrition in Rizal, Alicia, and Isabela

- SakunAPP, an Android app which monitors users' safety status and guides them during disasters

- Taytayan, a project meant to bride gender disparity in primary grade pupils of Mabolo Elementary School in Cebu

- Ropes for Hope, a social enterprise which employs mothers to make rice straws out of waste products

Youth Collaboration, Leadership, and Innovation

It is now year five for the Global Youth Summit, the country's largest gathering of young leaders, and it not only welcomed discussions on social ills but also focused on five topics that matter most to young people.

Thousands of young people were asked in onsite and online polls about which issues they identify with the most in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. Respondents pointed to the following SDGs, which provided the topics for the summit:

- Quality Education

- Climate Action

- No Poverty

- Zero Hunger

- Decent Job and Economic Growth

"We have SDGs this time because we want to give the youth structure. Them coming here means that they already have an objective. We just wanted to harness that energy and inspire them and spark something in them, so that we can turn it into something more tangible," says SM Regional Operations Manager Lea Casamayor.

Inspiration was indeed present during the day-long event, which included talks on ending poverty by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (ESCAP) Social Affairs Officer Mr. Marco Roncarati; on social media and nation building by award-winning broadcaster and Global Young Leader of World Economic Forum, Ms. Karen Davila; on ending hunger by the World Food Programme National Ambassador against Hunger, Ms. KC Concepcion; on climate action by Climate Change Commissioner Vernice Victorio; on decent work and economic growth by National Youth Commission Chairperson Aiza Seguerra; and on quality education by UNICEF Advocate for Children, Ms. Anne Curtis.

"Be the dreamers that define what this century will be," challenged Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Chairman Hyun Jin Moon during his keynote speech to the young people in the audience. "Be willing and be bold enough to dream the greatest dream of all: The dream to build one family."

Youth Summit Just 'Tip of the Iceberg'

Civic partnerships are vital in a developing nation, and events such as the Global Youth Summit only touches a bit of what they can do. 

"The two partnerships that we see between the Global Peace Foundation and SM Cares is just the tip of an iceberg. It's really a whole network with different organizations, from National Youth Commission, CHED, UNICEF, International Labor Organization," says Royce Cabunag, SM AVP for Operations and Director for SM Cares Program on Children and Youth.

Cabunag talked about different groups of people pitching in to help in projects such as providing hygiene kits for 75 schools in Palawan, bay cleanups, other environmental work, and the All-Lights Village (ALV), GPF's flagship project.

The summit may be the tip of the iceberg, and it may take more than just one to change a nation. But if each one of the the thousands of attendees answer and act with the same vigor they did when Dr. Moon asked Can you do this? Then across all fields, yes, they can change the world. 


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