September 2020, Geneva, Switzerland – Last August, the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) signed a partnership agreement with the Division for Peace of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to review and enhance the curriculum WPDI uses to train their Youth Peacemakers to become leaders and trainers. Building on the wide expertise and experience of UNITAR in providing innovative learning solutions to individuals, organizations, and institutions to support global and local action for lasting peace and sustainable development, this collaboration will increase the capacity of WPDI Peacemakers to disseminate knowledge and skills in vulnerable and conflict-affected communities, notably in South Sudan, South Africa, and Uganda.
The Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) is a non-governmental organization with an international scope and reach that was founded in 2012 by artist, social activist, SDGs Advocate, and UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation Forest Whitaker. It aims to promote the values of peace, reconciliation, and social development within communities impacted by conflict and violence.
Developing capacity for young leaders to train other youths and local stakeholders from their communities is at the heart of the WPDI mandate, based on the understanding that young women and men can be key vectors of positive transformation in vulnerable and remote areas. To this effect, a key aspect of the WPDI work is to prepare their trainees to train others, which is instrumental in empowering them as local leaders and to ensure the long-term dissemination and appropriation of these skills. For years, WPDI’s in-house specialists have been developing and implementing curricula designed to foster inclusive and participative learning, chiefly in the area of Conflict Resolution, which has enabled them to build an extensive experience, continuously channelled and enhanced, notably in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals that call for increased contributions of grassroots civil society organizations to contribute in the achievement of global initiatives.
This is an ambition that UNITAR is uniquely tailored to address as a specialized training agency of the United Nations with a mandate to develop individual and institutional capacities for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through outcome-based learning and training initiatives. Within the framework of UNITAR, the Division for Peace supports the (re-) establishment of peaceful, just, and inclusive societies (SDG 16) by enabling individuals and organizations to contribute meaningfully to sustainable peace. In the spirit of the groundbreaking United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security, youth empowerment, in particular, forms one of the key pillars of UNITAR’s programming.
At the current juncture, WPDI and UNITAR teams and experts have started working together and sharing views to ensure that WPDI curriculum in Conflict Resolution is fully customized to meet the needs and expectations of the youths they support across the countries of intervention. This promises to be a rich process since the redesigned curriculum will be applied and tested as WPDI experts train the latest cohort of youth leaders enrolled in the Karamoja Sub-Region of Uganda. This will ensure that the re-design process is continuously nurtured by feedback from both WPDI trainers and trainees.
In a constant search for excellence in action and innovation, WPDI and UNITAR have found in each other like-minded partners whose assets will undoubtedly help us to better prepare Youth Peacemakers to help their communities on their path to peace, resilience, and sustainability.