The G20 Youth Interfaith Forum in Bologna advocated interfaith partnerships, inclusive participation and human rights amid pressing global challenges such as COVID-19, which have pushed millions of young people to the margins of society.
Held from September 11-12 ahead of the G20 Interfaith Forum, the Youth Forum welcomed 50 young people from 30 countries and 13 religions. It was co-hosted by prominent intergovernmental, interfaith and youth organizations, including the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), ACWAY, FSCIRE, the G20 Interfaith Forum Association, The Stirling Foundation, We the World, United Religions Initiative and The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated unemployment and economic instability, the United Nations World Youth Report estimated that nearly 71 million young people are unemployed and 156 million youth in low- and middle-income countries live in poverty. Additionally, one in eight young people – the majority girls – are without access to education. These challenges have further disenfranchised young people and sidelined them from shaping the decisions which impact their daily lives.
As part of the G20 Interfaith Forum’s commitment to fostering inclusive solutions, the Youth Forum provided space for young interfaith leaders to share perspectives and ideas, as well as establish partnerships between grassroots and international youth organizations.
Sessions at the Youth Forum explored tools and best practices from the field, such as social innovation and entrepreneurship, project planning, monitoring and evaluation, ﬁnancial literacy (effective budgeting and fundraising for nonproﬁts), and examples of successful social and intercultural activities.
KAICIID trainers also taught facilitation and dialogue skills, which form the heart of its flagship programme for youth, Dialogue for Peace, developed in partnership with the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM).
Recognizing the important role of youth as agents for change, KAICIID has strongly advocated their participation and the hosting of skills trainings at prominent international fora. Although the international community has increased youth engagement, it has often neglected that many young people lack access to education and training, leadership opportunities and financial resources. To combat these challenges, the Centre has sought to establish strong networks and knowledge sharing between young dynamic leaders and seasoned experts in interreligious dialogue and global policy.
During the meeting, they also took part in a dialogue session through the board game, Dialogo!, the KAICIID board game that teaches and developes dialogue skills.
Informing the G20 Interfaith Forum
The skills and recommendations covered at the Youth Forum are also intended to prepare participants to effectively and strategically engage within the G20 Interfaith Forum framework and beyond. In the coming days, the G20 Interfaith Forum will gather leading policymakers, religious leaders and young people to address some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian and development issues, within the broad framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Members of the Youth Forum will take part in the G20 Interfaith Forum panel discussion, "Breaking Barriers – Youth in Action Responding to Crises in the Arab Region" on 14 September.
The panel will focus on youth response to crisis and countering hate speech and fostering social cohesion in the Arab Region in times of crisis. This is through sharing challenges, opportunities, lessons learned, success stories and how youth can undertake early warning and tangible actions on the ground. This panel discussion will showcase successful social media campaigns and social cohesion projects from the Arab Region.