Princess Aruna, Augusta Jata Ashun and Jack McQuibban are all young Restless Development staff members from our Sierra Leone and UK offices. They will all be attending the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul from the 23-24th May, a unique opportunity for world leaders and young people to come together to discuss how to solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity today.
In today’s world there is a growing sense of insecurity and uncertainty; new challenges have arisen that require new solutions. In 2015 alone, a staggering 125 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance. As a result Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, has convened the first World Humanitarian Summit to bring governments, donors, the private sector and young people together in Istanbul. This is an unprecedented, unique call to action: a demand that we begin to find new solutions to the biggest issues facing humanity today.
It is often well documented, and rightly so, that young people are disproportionately affected by such crises. More than 600 million young people, a group larger than the entire population of the European Union, live in fragile and conflict-affected settings. Young people make up one third of people displaced by conflicts and disasters worldwide. Yet it would be wrong to paint a picture of young people as helpless victims. The reality is that young women and men in countries all around the world are leading humanitarian action. We have witnessed it first hand both in Sierra Leone, where young people led the fightback against Ebola, and in Nepal, driving the country forwards in the wake of two devastating earthquakes.
The World Humanitarian Summit is a unique opportunity for young people to get their voices heard at the highest stage, which is exactly what we’ll be doing at the Summit. Restless Development, Crown Agents, War Child UK, Arche Nova, Zimbabwe UN Association and African Youth International Development Foundation are hosting an event: ‘Young People at the Heart of Humanitarian Action’. We will highlight and showcase inclusive youth-led actions that place change in the hands of communities, building resilience and capacity in the long term to respond to humanitarian emergencies.
From the frontline against fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone, to mobilising volunteers to save lives in the flood-hit slums of Jakarta, we’ll be giving young people the stage to tell us exactly why it’s so important we empower young people, allowing them to continue to be agents of transformative change in their communities. Beyond this, with over 200 other youth delegates, we’ll be ensuring their voices can be heard throughout all the sessions and discussions taking place across the Summit’s two days. But as much as we can do to raise our voices and be heard, we need world leaders to listen to us. It’s imperative that our ideas, ambition and passion as young people are recognised as key requirements of humanitarian work, if the World Humanitarian Summit is going to be a success and achieve real, lasting impact.
“I call upon the youth—our future leaders and innovators—to participate, organize, and bring new ideas. Matters of war and peace, of human suffering and development, cannot be left only to diplomats.” Ban-Ki Moon, UN Secretary-General.