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Youth perspectives in reimagining development for a better world

24 September 2020

Don Bosco Green Alliance

EcojesuitDon Bosco Green Alliance, and Living Laudato Si’ Philippines organized a virtual dialogue of young people from 15 different countries for the first session of the three-part dialogue series Reimagining Development: Youth Perspectives for a Better World.

The first session held on 28 August brought together youth leaders with diverse backgrounds and perspectives and aimed to build the context around development and obtain a holistic view of what development means for these young people from around the world.

Fr Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam SDB, Coordinator of the Sector on Ecology and Creation at the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Professor Luigino Bruni from the  Economy of Francesco, and Dr Iyad Abu Moghli, Director of the Faith for Earth Initiative of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), were among the key speakers who shared their thoughts and ideas.

Fr Kureethadam spoke about the Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year 2020-2021 and emphasized the importance of listening not only to the cry of the earth but also to the cry of the poor, indicating that no one can dream better than young people for a safer, sustainable future. “In order to rebuild our common home, we will need the contribution of all the members of our common household. We need especially a people’s movement from below. Young people are already leading this alliance and we need to bring more and more partners into the fold. We can then create a critical mass and bring about the societal transformation that is required.”

Professor Bruni spoke about The Economy of Francesco, a global gathering of young people, entrepreneurs, and economists and shared that this gathering is a process and not just another event. His message is not to look at markets as a solution and that cooperative and collective actions are the ways to go forward instead of competition. The fact that the pandemic brought forth the best in young people around the world, with the idea of the Economy of Francesco spreading from just a handful of people a few months ago, to thousands of young people working together, brought him hope for a building a better world. “Collective action is more important than individual action: the most essential virtue (even economic virtue) of 21stcentury is cooperation not competition. Individual excellence is less important than collective excellence.”

Dr Moghli spoke on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the role of the youth, sharing that the root cause of the current economic crisis is not just the pandemic but the deep-rooted systemic fault lines caused by myopic policy decisions. Calling the pandemic an opportunity to re-think our economic system, he called upon young people to lead the way in reimagining the systemic changes that need to be incorporated to build back better. He also encouraged young people to ask the critical questions and hold leadership accountable to their decisions. In addition to bringing fresh perspectives, young people best understand the problems they face and can be partners in communicating the development agenda to their peers and communities. “Youth-led organizations can and should be supported and should be strengthened because they contribute to the development of civic leadership.” He also expressed UNEPs commitment to supporting faith-based organizations and their critical role in helping young people as leaders in their faith-based communities.

There were questions and answers from participants from the three networks that organised the event and an interactive session where expectations and ideas were shared on the role of young people in reimagining development, their reasons for participating in the event, and the importance of different sectors like school, church, civil society, family in engaging in development concerns.

In his final message, Fr. Kureethadam spoke about the three Cs: Crisis, Creativity and Community. Crisis comes from the ancient Greek word κρίσις (krísis) for opportunity and to look at the current crisis situation as an opportunity. Creativity is inherent in the human spirit and can show the way to build a better world by bringing the global community together to work as one. Dr Moghli’s message is for young people to lead the way in changing our behaviours as consumers to builders of a sustainable future and to look towards innovation from within the human spirit and in nature and nature-based solutions, and design a new normal.

Reimagining Development: Youth Perspectives for a Better World is a three-part virtual dialogue series from 28 August to 25 September 2020 that brings together young people from international faith-based networks and organizations, seeking to contribute to discourse and actions for a paradigm shift in development. This event is a precursor to The Economy of Francesco main event on 19 to 21 November 2020 in Assisi, Italy.

The initiative is fostered by Ecojesuit (the global ecology network of Jesuits and partners, seeking collaborations for integral ecology), Don Bosco Green Alliance (an international collective of young people from Salesian family institutions and organizations that contribute to global environmental action, thought and policy), and Living Laudato Si’ Philippines (an inter-faith Catholic lay-initiated movement calling on Philippine financial institutions to divest from coal plants and other environmentally harmful activities).

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