Regional Conference on Youth: More Support to Western Balkan Youth Voices

TIRANA – Youth in the Western Balkans should be supported more to foster the intercultural dialogue and pave the way for better a better future for all, a two-day UN-RYCO conference held in Tirana concluded. The event was jointly organised by RYCO and UNFPA Albania on 11 and 12 May in a hybrid format and successfully brought almost 100 participants, representatives of the Western Balkan six governments, international organizations, high schools, civil society organization and young people.

The event aimed at promoting the impact of the joint UN-RYCO project and the results achieved in the region focused on showcasing the tools and methodologies developed and raising awareness of the key stakeholders on importance of further joint interventions conducted through partnerships in the same field.

“Our energy is boosted by these kinds of projects, and it brings in new spirit in RYCO… We are entitled and we are given the responsibility by governments in the region to provide opportunities to cooperate, help each other and create new perspectives in the region,” RYCO Secretary General Mr Albert Hani said in his opening remarks.

On the other hand, UN Resident Coordinator in Albania Ms Fiona McCluney said that RYCO and the work it has done in this project projects can address issues related to the peacebuilding, reconciliation and hate speech that exist in the Western Balkans.

“The two main problems that youth are facing in the region are employment and quality of education. We are trying to empower youth to become advocates and also the leaders for changes to happen in the region. We are pretty much aware that youth alone cannot do it and this is why we are promoting the cooperation of any grass-root youth organisation with governments in order to produce policies for more opportunities for work and more quality in education, ”Representative of the UNFPA Albania Office Ms Manuela Bello pointed out.

The event was also used to launch the one-month campaign “YOUth Inspired by Peace” which aims at raising awareness and increasing peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts among youth in the Western Balkans through various campaign events.

Throughout its course, the campaign will be focused on topics such as education, acceptance, understanding and cooperation to highlight the importance of investing in youth, relevance of their stories and their power for change.

With teachers and students’ work, the campaign will use best practices of working in peacebuilding transformative pedagogies across the Western Balkans through school networking as a tool for promoting regional dialogue.

The campaign will also provide promotion activities through interviews with teachers and students involved in the project activities. Moreover, six schools in ethnically mixed cities across the region will be illuminated as a symbol of bridging the existing differences among young people.

The conference is part of the joint UN-RYCO project “Supporting the Western Balkan’s Collective Leadership on Reconciliation”, funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund and implemented by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and the three UN Agencies – UNDP, UNFPA, and UNICEF.


On Campaign

The campaign “YOUth Inspired by Peace” is undertaken in the framework of the joint UN-RYCO project “Supporting the Western Balkan’s Collective Leadership on Reconciliation” funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund. It is implemented by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and the three UN Agencies – UNDP, UNFPA, and UNICEF. The project aims to build capacities and momentum for RYCO, empower young people in having their voice in public decision-making that affects their lives, as well as strengthen them to be a factor in building and maintaining safe and peaceful environments for themselves and their communities.

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