UNESCO and U-INSPIRE Alliance Shared Practical Experience of Asia and the Pacific Youth and Young Professionals activities on COVID-19

On Friday 15 May 2020, a webinar on Youth and Young Professionals engagement on COVID-19 brought together 186 participants to learn of practical experience and good practices of 12 Youth and Young Professionals in Asia and the Pacific in addressing the global disaster of COVID-19. The Regional Science Bureau for Asia and The Pacific, UNESCO Office Jakarta, jointly with the U-INSPIRE Alliance organized the webinar.

The webinar was advertised via social media and broadcasted through the Facebook of U-INSPIRE Alliance. Registered participants for the webinar reached 376 people from 46 countries with 162 female and 214 male. 301 people that registered are in the age between 20-39 year old. More than 170 registered participants mentioned that they are engaged or have activities on COVID-19. The webinar was attended by 186 participants online in the Zoom Webinar. The live stream on U-INSPIRE Facebook got more than 3.900 views, 67 shares, 14 comments, and reached 11.808 people.

The webinar was opened with the series of welcoming and key remarks. Mr. Pradip Khatiwada (Chair of U‐INSPIRE Alliance) mentioned in his remarks that COVID 19 have given an opportunity to generate a lot of energy that, if harnessed constructively, can be a great source of innovation. He appreciated UNESCO has recognized the potential of youth and young professionals and has been supporting for the alliance activities from its inception. Prof. Shahbaz Khan (Director and Representatives UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO Jakarta) highlighted the need to nurture a culture of innovation. The ongoing activities and science-based solutions explored and implemented by youth and young Professionals and participants from diverse SETI backgrounds during this pandemic should represent the lessons learnt and show how we can work together under difficult situations. Mrs. Shamila Nair-Bedouelle (Assistant Director General of Natural Sciences Remarks, UNESCO) welcomes the youth to UNESCO as their home, as the youth are crucial to the mandate of UNESCO to bring education, science, culture and communication to all people of the world. The youth are also hold the keys of transmission of UNESCO’s core and shared values to ensure our ethical interaction with mother earth and her biodiversity. She encouraged all the youth to take this crisis as an opportunity to reflect and share experiences of the harmonious interaction between human and nature. She stressed on the need to reflect on measuring how we can be better prepared using science, technology and innovation for better data collection and gathering, information sharing, identify the risk and develop risk scenarios, and make plan and implement the plan to cope against the risk of pandemic in the future.

The webinar shared 12 presentations of youth and young professional’s engagement in COVID-19 in the area of: Risk Communication and Community Awareness; Sharing information & empowering youth; Research and Studies; Assessment and Monitoring Tools; Creative Innovations; and Localized on the Ground Actions. The presentations was given by representatives of U-INSPIRE Alliance, U-INSPIRE Central Asia (Dacryn), U-INSPIRE India (CRRP), U-INSPIRE Indonesia, U-INSPIRE Maldives, U-INSPIRE Malaysia, U-INSPIRE Nepal, U-INSPIRE Pakistan, and representative of your from New Zealand.

Two international experts expressed their impression to the webinar. Dr. Animesh Kumar of UNDRR mentioned that the key common aspects of the presentations were technology and innovation. He appreciated that technology and the innovation related to this pandemic has been shared through a number of sessions like this webinar, filling the gap between knowledge and behavior change through various community channels including social media. Prof. Rajib Shaw of Keio University also as the chair of APSTAG congratulated UNESCO and the youth and young professionals, and stressed on follow up that can be taken: Technological innovation (product, tools), in this very uncertain disaster, individual and collective attempts is very important, even in failures, all should be analyzed as what worked and what did not work. Document the lessons based on initiatives that did not work; Data science applications; and Advocacy and risk communications.

The main output of the webinar is the statements that reaffirms UNESCO and U-INSPIRE Alliance will continue collaborate on SETI for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR):

UNESCO recognizes and appreciates the engagements of YYP in the effort to fight COVID-19 through their activities at different levels. UNESCO encourages the YYP to: 1) continue to use their creativity, knowledge, innovation, technology, and potential to find solutions and drive changes caused by this COVID-19 situation. 2) to continue their work in COVID-19, with active engagement of all stakeholders, and to pioneer actively sharing of information, data and outputs to be more widely accessible among the youth networks as well as the society.
UNESCO will continue to advocate and facilitate YYP platforms such as U-INSPIREs (in Asia and the Pacific) and AYAB (in Africa) to promote the use of SETI approaches to address the issues in DRR and water security aligned with the SFDRR and SDG. UNESCO encourage the Youth and Young Professionals’ platforms to actively participate in UNESCO Youth Programs such as UNESCO Youth Forum, Youth UNESCO Climate Action Network (YoU-CAN) as well as other United Nations youth programs.
U-INSPIRE Alliance in coordination with the U-INSPIRE National Chapters will continue to advocate, encourage, and mobilize their members to continue and actively work and engage in COVID-19 activities at all levels to find solutions and good practices to respond to these COVID-19 challenges.
U-INSPIRE would continue to advocate meaningful engagement of YYP in the implementation of DRR, water security, and climate change policies and plans through SETI , and continue to strengthen collaborations among the U-INSPIRE National Chapters as well as with other Regional Youth Organizations around the World.
Mrs. Shamila Nair-Bedouelle closed the webinar with her remarks stressing that the youth is the hope, they can bring technologies to development. The youth have access to multitude of ideas. UNESCO need to bring our future with collaboration of youth. The webinar talk about SETI as the root of sustainability and youth can be the movement of making science become the reality. Youth can make the children across the world realize the value of science, to be interested in science. Youth holds the key to make every child across the world deal with science, to encourage the children to become scientists for the future. The youth is our hope. Mrs. Shamila ended her remark by inviting the youth to work on inter-regionally as this increases the transfer of information across the boundaries.