Youth Inspired Global Summit sees success | Sunday Observer

Youth Inspired Global Summit sees success

Thirteen delegations, 18 countries, five continents, 115 participants came together for a phenomenal Global Unites Summit in Nairobi, Kenya

A youth movement for Hope and Reconciliation was launched in Sri Lanka in 2007 and expanded to similar movements in 13 nations from five continents.

Back in 2015, Sri Lanka Unites launched its global branch, Global Unites to function as the umbrella movement for Unites movements globally. This launch took place at the inaugural conference in Sri Lanka hosted by Sri Lanka Unites. At the time, we had one established movement in Sri Lanka and a second emerging movement in Congo. From August 5 to 9 Global Unites had its second summit (4 years later) to formally recognise and endorse the 13 movements and create a clear strategy for the next four years of operations. The summit and the movement was committed and purposed with the aim of inspiring, connecting and equipping a new generation of peace builders.

The summit was graced by an amazing line up of internationally recognised speakers. That included Erica Chenoweth –Professor of Human Rights and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, Robert Katende – CEO of Som Chess Academy and whose life inspired an acclaimed Hollywood movie, Queen of Katwe, Zoe Marks – Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, Boniface Mwangi – Photojournalist and Activist, Will Graylin – Entrepreneur and CEO of a Fortune 500 Company and Siddharth Chatterjee – UN Resident Coordinator based in Kenya

The Founder of Global Unites Prashan De Visser also spoke at a Plenary Session at the summit.

Harvard Professor Erica Chenoweth said, “In the midst of fragmented social movement, with limited tactical ability and long term stamina, Global Unites can be the movement of movements.” Will Graylin also shared his thoughts with us, “The potential I see here I have never seen in any global movement and in the development field. Youth leaders taking on their own nations’ challenges with such innovation, idealism and sustainability in mind is simply outstanding.”

Harvard Professor Zoe Marks addressing the delegates, said, “I am a Harvard Professor working, teaching and learning peace building for the past 12 years, but I feel intimidated by all of you. You are the true experts and I am honoured to be here.”

Sri Lanka Unites was represented at the summit by Sinan Uthumalebbe (Eastern Province), Kapila Ramanayake (Southern Province), Aninilavan Puvanesan (Northern Province), Lakmal Sandeepa (Central Province), Ashini De Silva (Uva Province) and Sivashanthi Sivalingam (Western Province.) The young leaders presented to the rest of the delegation the progress of the movement and its expansion being the largest youth movement for reconciliation with a membership of 25,000, a full time staff of 25 soon to be 50 (with 25 new district coordinators), seven reconciliation centres soon to be 10 at the end of 2019 in 10 districts and its recent recognition as a top 20 grassroots movement in the Commonwealth region. Along with the success of the movement the delegates also shared the challenges, opportunities and new initiatives seeking a transformational impact on a new generation of Sri Lankans.

The event concluded with a closing ceremony at the Louis Leakey Auditorium which was attended by distinguished guests, all the delegates and young Kenyans. This youth led initiative that began in Sri Lanka has since established chapters in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Liberia and Kenya. The other nine countries include Israel, USA, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Palestine, Colombia, Nepal and Sierra Leone. They are emerging movements that are well on their way to establishing themselves in their countries. When the summit reconvenes in 2023, the movement aspires to be established in 15 nations with emerging movements in 15 more nations. Global Unites is planning to engage 5 million youth in these nations during the next four years and increase global membership to over 100,000.

Global Unites is now one of the top eight models for youth engagement in the Commonwealth and De Visser has received a Points of Light award from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth of England for his work.