The first World Youth Conference on Kindness is being organized by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) in New Delhi, India from 20 to 23 August 2019. This event aims to provide a platform annually for global youth and policy-makers to discover ways to use competencies like kindness, empathy, mindfulness and compassion to achieve the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
The theme of this year’s conference is 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The world is one family): Gandhi for the Contemporary World’. Mahatma Gandhi is India’s gift to the world. His gift to humanity was the pursuit of peace through the practice of truth, nonviolence, compassion and kindness. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Ghandi’s life, this event aims to impart social and emotional competencies to global youth to empower them to transform themselves and build long-lasting peace in their communities.
Why is it happening?
Socio-emotional skills such as kindness, mindfulness, impulse control, empathy, compassion and critical thinking, which Gandhi embodied, are key to addressing social, ecological and economic problems. They can be built through constant experimentation and experience and can motivate individual action towards a more sustainable society.
Organizers of the event, say that to achieve real societal change, Gandhi’s learnings need to be built into education systems and exemplified in people’s daily lives. They say even revolutionaries, such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, had to experiment before becoming the personification of these competencies.
What will happen?
Attendees will take part in panel discussions with decision makers, will be part of presentations by policy-makers and engage with youth leaders from around the world. The New Delhi Youth Declaration on Kindness for the Sustainable Development Goals, a promise by youth attendees to have a decade of kindness to achieve the SDGs, will be signed.
The conference will be a space to share and engage with experts on the concept of peace through kindness. There will be educational capacity building workshops to equip young people with socio-emotional skills where identity and global issues will be discussed. Youth will be encouraged to train their peers through a 'train the trainer' journey to achieve peaceful, sustainable communities.There will also be a platform to celebrate inspiring acts of kindness affecting change in the world, as well as a concert.
The World Youth Conference on Kindness is part of a campaign started in October 2018 to mobilise the world's youth to achieve the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals through transformative acts of kindness. Currently 2776 people from 54 countries have shared their acts of kindness and are featured on the #KindnessMatters map on the UNESCO MGIEP website to let the world know about their work.
Who is expected to be there?
* The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind
* Chaker Khazaal, reporter and Huffington Post contributor and author of Tale of Tala and Confessions of a War Child Trilogy
* Aya Chebbi, First African Youth Envoy and the youngest diplomat of the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Cabinet
* Deepak Ramola, Founder of Project FUEL, which collects people’s life lessons and turns them into performances, TED Talk speaker and United Nations Action Plan Executor
How is this event important?
The organizers want to move beyond simply advocating or instructing Gandhi’s ideas, especially for 21st-century youth who are diverse, tech-savvy and aware of their rights. Though the world is different from the time of Gandhi, it is still similar as it is far from achieving peaceful, sustainable societies. Humanity is facing new challenges ranging from climate change, unprecedented migration to mental health problems and violent conflicts.
“We need young people to be in the constant process of critical thinking, self-reflection, self-compassion, impulse control and emotional regulation, to become the change they wish to see in the world and find peace within themselves. We aim to create a movement of empowered youth who transform themselves and who celebrate individuals that respond with kindness to hate and violence, building long-lasting peace in their communities,” they say.
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If you are wondering, the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals are: