Youth for Kosovo: a Project for Sustainable Future
The Empowering Youth for a Peaceful, Prosperous, and Sustainable Future in Kosovo project, funded by the Secretary General’s Peacebuilding Fund, aims to provide a space for youth from all backgrounds in the selected localities in Kosovo to work together to address shared challenges and become more active changemakers that will catalyze peacebuilding efforts in Kosovo. The project is implemented jointly by UNDP-UNV, UNICEF and UN Women.
What we want to achieve?
The project aims to decrease the influence of conflict narratives and prejudice through improved social cohesion resulting from local populations working together and with local institutions on contemporary issues of shared interest to jointly develop solutions for a common future.
The project directly engages young women and men from communities divided by conflict and the perpetuation of conflict dynamics to work together on issues of shared interest and concern and become more active changemakers catalyzing peace and trust-building efforts in Kosovo. Through this mechanism, the “habit” of cooperation will be established and consolidated, providing empirical challenge to divisive narratives.
The project focuses on direct community mobilization and facilitated cooperation and confidence-building between people and institutions, with activities designed from a human-centered, catalytic, and gender-responsive perspective, with participants empowered as advocates for positive change, embedded at community level.
What is the real human impact?
The message conveying the importance of youth inclusion in decision-making and community-building in Kosovo was shared with around 250 youths, gathered for the UN Youth Assembly. In this spirit, a participant, Lorenta Kadriu (Kosovo Albanian), pointed out “I now understand how important it is to cooperate with people from diverse backgrounds, participate in decision-making processes and ensure gender equality in all areas”
The lack of language skills in official languages is frequently mentioned as a barrier for interethnic communication and trust building and hence is supported by the project activities. “Ideas of organizing Albanian and Serbian language courses are very welcome and this process will definitely contribute to bringing youth together and their better integration in an inclusive society”, stated Slaviša Mladenović, Language Commissioner, Office of the Prime Minister in Kosovo;
”I feel good to have come here this weekend. I made so many new friends and I’ve learned so much about critical thinking. I encourage all young people to apply in the next edition,” says Žarko Kostić, a 15-year-old Kosovo Serb from Kusçe/Kusče village of Novobërdë/Novobrdo #Ponderks;
Mimoza, a 16-year-old Kosovo Albanian from Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje took part in #Ponderks, which teaches critical thinking and media literacy to adolescents. She said ‘’I am learning how to critically analyze media to better spot false or biased information’’.
What is unique, innovative and interesting about the project?
The project is unique in Kosovo’s context as it promotes horizontal cohesion through stimulating trust between communities, vertical cohesion through confidence-building into public service delivery, while specifically highlighting & fostering leadership of young women in peacebuilding in Kosovo. Moreover, it tackles proxy drivers of conflict such as high levels of youth inactivity & unemployment rates, as well as lack & mismatch of employable skills. It is innovative & interesting because, while employing good, tested practices, it expands them & connects them with other services available. For instance, the nexus between community volunteering, employment service delivery & skills development of young people has never been tested in Kosovo before. As such, it serves as a good scalable model of providing youth with meaningful & productive engagement opportunities & stimulating confidence in public services while at the same time inform integrated policy making. Similarly, the project builds upon existing partnerships to jointly develop new models of working with young women & men and establishing new partnerships with youth-led & focused organizations. Finally, the project applies innovative methods in improving inter-ethnic relations among youth through non-formal & non-traditional experiential learning