Recently, generationOn had the opportunity to celebrate International Peace Day at the United Nations. International Peace Day is defined by the UN as "a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples." It is a day of recognition, remembrance, and acceptance, but it is also a day to create ideas on what actions need to be taken to achieve world peace.
The UN developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in September 2015 that they want the world to accomplish by 2030. The Youth Summit focused on the SDGs as building blocks for peace and highlighted SDG 16, which aspires to reduce violence, ensure justice for all, and strengthen international cooperation around the world.
Throughout the summit, activities and panels created conversation and inspired ideas on how youth can achieve peace in the world. Many of the activities and speakers discussed the importance of social media as a tool for peace. A representative from Twitter talked about how social media can start movements of unity and peace. For example, when the terrorist attacks occurred in Paris last November, over 70 million people around the world came together through social media to show support for each other and express that violent terrorist acts are not acceptable. Social media also has the power to connect youth with important and influential people. For instance, Snapchat recently created a filter where youth could submit a question to a world leader. Kids and teens recorded questions and sent them in. Delegates at the UN watched those videos, answered questions and discussed their concerns!
As Jean Trudel, Co-Founder for Peace Day 365, said, "Even though there is one internationally dedicated day for peace, every day we should live like it is Peace Day because that is how to sustainably achieve world peace." Achieving world peace is no small task, but it is a goal everyone can take part in accomplishing. The important thing to remember is that your voice, no matter how young, is needed. It does not matter if you are a UN delegate or a teen, we all have a voice and the power to make create world peace. All the summit speakers made it clear that youth can work together to make a positive mark on the world. Here are some ways you can promote peace:
- Be compassionate to yourself and others: Peace begins from within. Being kind to yourself makes you happy and makes you feel better. If you are feeling good, you can spread that joy and peace to others. You can uplift others by placing encouraging messages on post-it notes in public spaces. See our guide here.
- Research and educate others about conflict/war zones: There are multiple places of unrest that could use support. According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, 65.3 million people were displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution in 2015. Know the areas that need help and educate others to know about these issues and areas.
- Inspire peaceful thinking: Create a space for your friends and community to reflect on what peace, compassion and kindness means to them. Promote peaceful thinking with our step-by-step guide here.
- Engage with social media: Social media campaigns are a powerful tool. Use social media platforms to encourage messages about peace and reach important politicians such as UN delegates and world leaders who can address your questions and comments. With enough voices, important messages can reach people in power that have the ability to change policy.
- Interested in doing more? Check out these project guides and resources for teens and kids that can help you to do your part to promote peace, justice and strong institutions.