The IPB Youth Network Statement for the II World Peace Congress

Barcelona – October 17th, 2021

Good afternoon, congress participants,

We want to thank you for your participation in this conference, and appreciate the opportunity to address you here.

The IPBYN – created in 2016, at the first IPB World Congress – is a collaborative platform for young people that have the common vision of building a climate of peace in this world. We are a global, inclusive, and open network striving for a peaceful and just future for all. We believe that youth, children, and future generations are not only currently the object of violence and injustice, but they are also part of the solution to such problems. As a network we build on the purpose and mission of the IPB, growing a voice for the agency of youth in facing ever increasing global challenges.

As highlighted in the program of this congress, and visible to many beyond the bounds of this room, we are in a time of crisis, a pivotal moment in our history. Confrontational approaches continue to dominate over cooperative ones in fighting many of the challenges that have only worsened since our last congress – arms trade, common security, climate emergency, threats to democratic institutions and health crises (catalyzed by the COVID-19 Pandemic) are clear examples. Violence, both structural and physical, defines our experience of the world and our ability to change it. Peacebuilding is a perpetual human endeavour. We cannot sit back, cannot afford complacency. Peace has to be worked upon, not in the future, but today – now!

It is an intergenerational project, not because of the old cliche of the youth being our future, but because while age can give us experience in how things are, that rarely gets us closer to how things should be. Working that out isn’t the work of a single group. Around the world, young people are already doing the work of peace – they are frontline climate defenders around the world, they are peace activists stopping traffic, they are the protesters on the streets calling for democracy, for accountability, for equality, they are the students sitting in their classrooms and asking why their curriculum paints an entire group of people with one brush. The questions we have covered in this congress affect all of us, the answers will take all of us. And we’re here and ready to work with you to find them.

At the last congress it was a running joke in the youth congress to keep a tally of the number of times people would say ‘we have to engage the youth’ without acknowledging that we were in the room, ready, engaged, ignored. Out of that frustration, combined with the wonderful people we met, we founded the IPBYN to campaign for the meaningful inclusion of youth in peacebuilding and disarmament in general, and in the IPB in specific.

It is great, standing here in 2021 to look back on the last 6 years and see how far we have come, and how IPB has responded to the challenge we posed to them. 40% youth (loosely defined) speakers, active support of our network, funding and supporting youth to come to the congress. A literal seat at the table. This is a great start, and we’re excited to look to the future as a network and with the IPB.

The 2021 World Peace Congress set itself the bold aim to create a plan for a
worthwhile and humane future by creating an inclusive platform. Together, we have engaged with several topics of urgent importance. We have had a courageous conversation about the future we hope to have and one we would like for our future generations to inherit.

In dire moments of crisis and adversity, humanity can either diminish or be
enhanced. One may well state that the success of our species lies in interaction, collaboration, and connection. The global reality of our existence has brought with it unprecedented challenges. Like we have done during these three days, we must continue to build global solidarity along with making a meaningful and positive change locally. Needless to say, the intergenerational project of peace is also transdisciplinary and intersectional, one that must be approached personally, within our communities and internationally.

As we arrive at the climax of this congress, on behalf of the IPBYN,we urge you to engage with the “other” to build understanding, collaborate for action, and to continue your work on creating a shared vision for the future. The IPBYN seeks to be a truly international platform for youth-driven capacity strengthening, advocacy, and action for a more peaceful and humane world. As a network, we have a long way to go to make a lasting, positive, and sustainable impact. You, the youth, are urged to take responsibility, ask questions, inspire and take action. We ask you to join us in building this together

If you are interested to know more about IPBYN, please visit the website here.