From being sponsored children to speakers at UN event – Nation

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On May 10, 2024, Kenya Good Neighbors, a non-governmental organisation, hosted an official event of 2024 UN Civil Society Conference in Nairobi, ahead of the United Nations ‘Summit of the Future’ set for September 2024 in New York.

The conference offers civil society organisations an opportunity to put a global perspective on specific issues. It brings together senior UN System officials, prominent international civil society organisations, youth change-makers, academia, public opinion makers, and international media, to discuss issues of global concern.

The event by Kenya Good Neighbors was titled “Speak up! Youth Voices for the Future”. It gathered youth representatives from around the world who are co-creating the future agenda with Kenya Good Neighbors, alongside the UN Civil Society Conference.

The event provided a platform for youths from Kenya and around the world to share their visions for the agenda of the Summit of the Future and explore the roles of civil society and youth in achieving them.

Offsite event topics

The event delved into critical topics such as sustainable development, international peace, digital cooperation, and youth engagement.

Mr Namun Heo, Country Director of Kenya Good Neighbors, said the UN Civil Society Conference sought to examine how climate change was transforming the lives of youth and their families in landlocked African countries, and its impact on achieving UN SDGs 2 (Zero Hunger) and 4 (Quality Education). The conference explored the role of youths globally, in addressing the climate crisis.

Secondly, in the face of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war’s impact on Ukrainian youths, the conference explored how communities in Ukraine foster solidarity amidst an unstable security situation, and sought areas for international collaboration to find solutions.

Thirdly, the conference investigated the information technology gap between developed and developing countries, its contribution to opportunity inequality, and the impact of the current private sector-led global technology society on this divide. Participants explored solutions from the viewpoint of developing country youths.

Among the speakers was Ms Saila Nasieku, who was a sponsored child of Kenya Good Neighbors, and is now a teacher at Romosa Secondary School. Nasieku passionately emphasised the imperative of youth engagement in addressing global challenges, urging for concerted efforts from communities, nations, and the global society to cultivate the leadership potential inherent in young people. She stated: “The responsibility falls on all of us – communities, nations, and the global society – to nurture your leadership potential.”

She further emphasised: “Youth engagement is a cornerstone of the PACT resolution at the UN Summit of the Future. This is because the youth are not simply the inheritors of our world, but the architects who will shape it.”

Ms Saila Nasieku during the ‘Youth Voices for the Future’ event hosted by Kenya Good Neighbors in Nairobi at the 69th UN Civil Society Conference.

Photo credit: Kenya Good Neighbors

Ms Biehu Kateryna, a speaker from Ukraine and a volunteer at Good Neighbors Romania for Ukraine refugees, emphasised the necessity of cooperation among nations to avert conflicts and foster peace. Kateryna emphasised: “In our quest for global peace, one of the most essential elements is cooperation among nations.”

Mr Yunanda Aditya, previously a sponsored child of Good Neighbors Indonesia, advocated for digital cooperation, stressing the importance of inclusivity and responsible digital use in tackling issues that range from climate change to economic inequality. Aditya asserted: “By collaborating on these issues, we ensure that the digital revolution includes everyone.”

From left: Previous beneficiaries of Good Neighbors, Mr Yunanda Aditya from Indonesia and Ms Saila Nasieku of Kenya, and Good Neighbors Romania volunteer Ms Biehu Kateryna from Ukraine, during the ‘Youth Voices for the Future’ event hosted by Kenya Good Neighbors at the 69th UN Civil Society Conference in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Kenya Good Neighbors

On the environmental challenges that the world faces, Mr Celvester Kitonga from Kenya called on young people to amplify their voices on the global stage, demanding accountability and action from the international community. “Climate change knows no boundaries, and neither should our response focus on solving this tragedy as individuals, but take a collective action,” Mr Kitonga observed.

The insights shared by young participants at the event are aimed at informing Good Neighbors’ sustainable development and humanitarian endeavours, reflecting the organisation’s commitment to give the youth a voice in its global initiatives.

Namun Heo, the Country Director of Kenya Good Neighbors, emphasised the organisation’s commitment to incorporating youth perspectives into its sustainable development and humanitarian work. He stated: “We are dedicated to integrating the insights and aspirations of young people into our efforts, ensuring that our initiatives resonate with the dynamic needs of our global community.”

About Good Neighbors

Good Neighbors is an international humanitarian and development organisation founded in 1991. Good Neighbors works in over 50 countries to make the world a place without hunger and where people live in harmony.

Good Neighbors was granted a General Consultative Status by United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) in 1996. The status is reserved for established and broadly reaching international organisations.

Kenya Good Neighbors, founded in 1995, is one of the Good Neighbors partnership entities. It was the first field office in Africa for international relief and development programmes.

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