As incredible as it may sound, approximately every fourth person in the world today can be considered youth. That is to say that there are more young people in the world than ever before, an estimated 1,8 billion between the ages of 10 and 24. (UNFPA, 2015) Thus, this part of the population has great potential for progress in the world and should be more included in decision-making.
Therefore, the UN Youth of Helsinki set out on an excursion to Copenhagen from 9th to 12th March with the United Nations Resolution 2250 as it’s focus. The Resolution on youth, peace and security was adopted in December 2015, considers youth as a powerful resource for sustaining peace and urges the UN member states to increase youth representation at all decision-making levels. As the snowy weather of Helsinki changed into the mild seaside breeze of Copenhagen, we had four intense but extremely interesting days ahead on the topic.
On the first day we visited the Finnish Embassy in Copenhagen by the harbour, and got invited to the residence of the Ambassador of Finland for the evening. The meeting with the Ambassador, Ann-Marie Nyroos, was of particular interest to most of us as we discussed world politics and the Ambassador told us about the perks and challenges of the life of a diplomat. We also visited the UN City of Copenhagen as guests of UN Women, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) and IOM (International Organisation for Migration), and got to discuss the topics of equality, migration and youth to name a few. In addition, we had program at the Nordic Council and got given a workshop on 2250 by CRIC (Centre for Resolution of International Conflict, Copenhagen) at the University of Copenhagen.
Altogether, we had three amazingly busy and inspiring days full of talks and discussions on the world, politics and the importance of youth representation for peace and security. Peace does not just happen behind closed doors by older men in suits. It requires reaching out to the grass-root level and from the grass-root level up and involving whole societies, women and youth included. Going out to the world, having meaningful and interesting interaction with people and committing acts of understanding and friendship all contribute towards lasting peace. Therefore, we also took our time out in the city, connected with the UN Youth of Denmark and Sweden who joined us, and explored the colourful streets and nightlife of Copenhagen together.
On the fourth day of our trip we did not have a special program, and after the brunch the ones who still wanted to explore the city were free to walk around. I walked about 20 kilometres that day, saw many of Copenhagen’s beautiful old churches, had amazing waffles and ice cream at Nyhavn, and admired Yoko Ono’s art at Papiroen. All in all, I was very pleased with the excursion and both our formal and informal activities. The inspiration I got from our visits and workshops regarding youth, peace and security will surely remain, and the UN Youth of Helsinki will continue working with the Resolution 2250 here at home. There is a famous saying that youth are the future, but it is also said that tomorrow comes today.
Katri Olkkonen, member of the board UN Youth of Helsinki