With 2023 coming to an end, it is time for a small recap of the projects and youth actions of UNODC Youth Initiative, and sharing our gratitude to all our contributors this year.
In March, the Youth Forum 2023 took place in person for the first time since the pre-pandemic times, uniting 34 youths from 28 countries at the headquarters of UNODC in Vienna. Participating youth had the occasion to learn from experts about evidence-based prevention, as well as share perspectives and experiences with other youth, who shared similar passions and interests in being upstanders to protect the health and welfare of their peers. One of the highlights of the Youth Forum was the delivery of the jointly drafted Youth Statement, which brought a rare emotional CND moment. The youths insisted on the necessity to implement evidence-based programmes and the importance of youth implication in the decision-making process: “Breaking the cycle of substance use tomorrow requires youth engagement in prevention today”. Click here for a highlight video of the Youth Forum 2024.
Youth Alumni also continued their engagement in the Youth Initiative by contributing with youth perspectives on substance use prevention and youth empowerment through various occasions, such as the Regional Workshop organized within the Youth4Impact regional programme in March, the special CND event to commemorate World Drug Day in June, the Paris Pact Expert Working Group on Early Prevention of drug use and drug use disorders in November, and the Fireside Chat “Engaging Minds in December. In addition, youth alumni were invited to collaborate as co-authors to a book on Youth in Prevention, a work still in progress. And lastly, youth leaders passionate to continue to promote prevention in their communities were invited to partake in a youth consultation group for the new peer-to-peer prevention programme that UNODC is developing, tentatively “Friends-in-Focus”, in December (more on this new project will come soon, so stay tuned!).
2023 was also a big year for the Drug Abuse Prevention Center (DAPC) grants programme, where DAPC celebrated its 30th anniversary in fundraising efforts in supporting drug use prevention around the world. UNODC supported the organisation of a high-level side event on the margins of the 66th Session of CND, which highlighted DAPC’s 30-year journey and provided youth speakers from DAPC grantee organisations the opportunity to share their experience, good practices, challenges, and lessons learnt from their project implementation. Executive Director Ms. Ghada Waly also applauded the multiple generations of young DAPC volunteers in Japan who have collected the contributions to support drug use prevention since 1993, and further commended their dedication to helping their peers around the world to live and be healthier. DAPC’s continued contributions of 2023 enabled the funding of six new DAPC projects in 2023, which are currently being implemented in Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Montenegro and South Africa. Lastly, a new call for proposals for 2023 DAPC grants programme was launched in July and new DAPC grantees will be announced in the new year.
This year, Listen First materials also continued to increase its outreach in multiple regions around the world by adaptations into eleven languages : Greek, Italian, Finnish, Norwegian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek, Serbian, and Russian. Thanks to our partners, the Listen First materials have been supportive in various contexts to inform better parenting and caregiving, promote social and emotional learning, and to help children and youth grow healthy and safe. Youth-led initiatives were particularly inspiring to see: for example, Safer Youth Norway availed the Super Skills series as a youth-initiated project(in addition to the Science of Care series, which they had completed in 2022) to support the communities in Norway, and a Youth Forum 2021 alumni from Peru shared her own experiences of using the Listen First materials in her work as an educational psychologist.
We take this opportunity to reflect on achievements made in 2023 with a big thanks to the youth, DAPC grantees, sponsors and many others who have contributed to another successful year of the Youth Initiative. We look forward to another great year in 2024, with more opportunities of youth mainstreaming in UNODC projects and meeting more youth to join in the cause.
We send our best wishes to all. Happy Holidays!