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Empowering Future Generations: Speech by GNRC SG during the UN CSC 

Faith’s ImPACT: Promoting Human Fraternity, Empowering Future Generations at the UN CSC

The following is the text of the speech delivered by Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General, GNRC at the United Nations Civil Society Conference (UN CSC) on 9th May 2024, Nairobi, Kenya

Greetings from the GNRC

I am happy that you all could join us in today’s workshop as we discuss Faith’s ImPACT: Promoting Human Fraternity, Empowering Future Generations. 

With over 80% of world’s population belonging to a faith or spiritual tradition, faith communities and religious leaders have the power and potential to significantly impact the world and humanity.

Children and young people constitute over half of the religious faithful. They are vital to the fabric of society. 

We cannot, therefore, speak of creating global and sustainable progress if we do not involve them in shaping the process. Collective effort is needed, and this means the inclusion of children and young people.

If we do not include children and young people, then we will be shaping this world for ourselves. Not them. And they will not accept or have any ownership in the systems and processes we create.

Involving children and young people is more than just having them as passive participants.

It is empowering them to speak, be heard and to take action. It is engaging them in dialogue, actively listening to their input, and taking their opinions seriously. 

Arigatou International since its founding in 1990 by the late Rev. Takeyasu Miyamoto has been All for Children. Arigatou International values children for who they are and fully involves them in its work, ensuring their safe and meaningful participation while affirming their human dignity. 

The GNRC, was launched by Arigatou International in 2000, to bring people of different faith and spiritual traditions to advocate for the rights and well-being of children. Today, it is present in 75 countries.

Our aim is to empower children to have their say, work together with others, and make a difference in their communities.

Building Resilience, Community Resilience, Children’s Solutions Lab, Poverty Solutions, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Academy, Alliance for the Protection of Children, Wear My Shoes, and many other programs are some of the highly successful child and youth-led interventions fostered by Arigatou International’s initiatives of End Child Poverty, Ethics Education for Children,  Prayer and Action, and the GNRC.

Our GNRC Youth and Children Committees are leading in having children and young people at the forefront of creating change. Many of these young leaders have become changemakers in their communities. One of our GNRC Youth, Ms Zvonimira Jackik, is an advisor to the President in a country in the Balkans. 

Among the many ways that children are involved in the work of the GNRC, is through their participation in GNRC Forums, Every five years, Arigatou International convenes a global forum of the GNRC that brings together various stakeholders representing all major religions and faiths, child-focused government and non-government representatives and children, to discuss the most pressing issues affecting children. 

So far, we have successfully held five GNRC Forums, and children’s participation and intergenerational dialogue has been essential to the success of each one of the forums.

This year in November, we will convene in Abu Dhabi, UAE, for our  Sixth Forum. It will adopt a hybrid format, with an anticipated in-person attendance of 400 to 600 participants, including 60 to 100 children. 

As at previous GNRC forums, the Sixth Forum will be preceded by a children’s pre-forums, where children will discuss and prepare for their participation in the main Forum. 

Within the organizing team for the Sixth Forum, we already have a Children’s Participation Taskforce that is very intentionally working to build a process of participation that has already started ahead of the Forum and will continue long after, to ensure respectful, meaningful, and broad children’s participation.

With children around the world facing infringement of their basic rights on multiple fronts, discussions at the GNRC Sixth Forum will center on building a Safe, Secure, and Sustainable world for and with children, under the theme The Child is Calling: Interfaith Cooperation to Build a Hopeful World for Children. 

The theme reflects and reminds us of our aim: to ensure that we listen to children with empathy and respect, welcome their wisdom and gifts, and work side-by-side with them to address challenges that they face and build a better, more hopeful world.

Under building a safe world, the Forum will address the dignity of the child in the digital world; the vital role of families and collaborative communities; and pathways to building resilience and strengthening mental health in the face of global shocks, emerging crises, and pandemics.

Under building a secure world, the Forum will address the root causes of conflicts, wars, xenophobia, hate crimes, and extremism; stakeholder participation in building resilience to conflict; the impact of conflict and war on children; and building a peaceful and inclusive world for, and with, children.

Under building a sustainable world, the Forum will address responsible lifestyles; hunger, child poverty, and inequality; ethical values and education for sustainable development; and climate-conscious stewardship.

The Forum will cuminate in a call to action to the world, encapsulated in our Abu Dhabi Declaration titled: “Answering the Call of the Child”. 

With our Sixth Forum bringing together a significant international audience shortly after the Summit of the Future, we hope to underline the importance of the active, meaningful and inclusive participation of children and youth, and remind the different stakeholders of their duty to children and young people. 

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