Panel discussion in the launch event of Finland’s National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security. From left: International Programmes Specialist at YMCA Finland Milla Mäkinen, UN Youth Delegate Katri Leppälaakso and Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto. © Photo: Laura Manninen, YMCA Helsinki
Ten years ago, in July 2011, Finnish youth organisations initiated a resolution on youth, peace and security while the then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was visiting Finland. This year in August 2021, Finland's – and at the same time the world's first – Youth, Peace and Security National Action Plan has just been published.
At the heart of the initiative was a concern for the well-being of young people globally. Already then, more than a half of the world’s population was under the age of 30 and the proportion of young people has continued to grow. The initiative emphasised that sustainable social change requires the involvement of young people.
In December 2015, the UN Security Council adopted the first resolution of its kind concerning youth. The original Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security was supplemented in 2018 and 2020 by two recent resolutions.
Together they form the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda, which, for the first time, provides a global, common and binding framework for UN Member States on young people's rights and participation in peace and security issues.
Shortly after the UN decision, the Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi launched an open 2250 network. Over the years, the network has brought together youth organisations as well as other civil society actors and individuals.
At that time, we also discussed what the Youth, Peace and Security agenda signifies to us in the Finnish YMCA movement. As part of the world’s largest youth organisation, we experienced the global frame of reference as a core of our work.
We saw the resolution as a red thread linking our work at local, national and international level. In the summer of 2018, YMCA Finland took the initiative to the World Council, which recommended to place the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda at the heart of our organization in all levels. The themes of the agenda are not new to the 177-year-old YMCA, but the resolution gives them visibility and extra impetus.
Panel discussion in the launch event of Finland’s National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security. From left: International Programmes Specialist at YMCA Finland Milla Mäkinen, UN Youth Delegate Katri Leppälaakso, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto, and panel host and coordinator at UN Youth of Finland Camilla Ojala. © Photo: Laura Manninen, YMCA Helsinki
The resolution has strengthened the opportunities for young people to participate in the discussion concerning them and has been a tool in advocating for our organisation.
YMCA Finland has worked, as part of the 2250 network, to prepare a national roadmap for implementing the resolution. We also mapped with our local associations how the five pillars of the resolution would demonstrate in our own programmes.
Over the past year, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the 2250 network jointly organised five workshops to prepare the content of the blueprint. Now, the finished action plan shows the handprint of YMCA.
The world's first National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security is a historic milestone and an important stage in raising young people to a common agenda. In addition to the end result, the process itself has been valuable. An active and long-term participation in this process has brought our own organisation a leap forward.
That is why we now wish to support all our colleagues and partners in advancing the 2250 agenda, both as they work in local civil society and with young people.
For this purpose, the World YMCA in cooperation with YMCA Finland and YMCA-YWCA Sweden will organise a Y4Peace event by the end of this year. By attending the event, you will learn more about the concrete actions, challenges, and results of this work!