In order to raise awareness among youth leaders about global and planetary health, UNU-IIGH organized a special session during the 27th International Youth Forum which was held on August 19-26, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea. Organized annually by the National Council of Youth Organizations in Korea (NCYOK) and supported by the Korean Ministry of Gender, Equality, and Family (MOGEF), this year’s forum, which revolved around the theme “World Health and Youth,” gathered 80 youth leaders from around the world to discuss global issues, brainstorm solutions, and build mutual understanding and friendship.
The special session was delivered by Dr. Renzo Guinto, a doctoral student from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and acting global coordinator of the Healthy Energy Initiative of international NGO Health Care Without Harm. Dr. Guinto was also one of the moderators in the Urban Thinkers Campus on Health and Wellbeing organized by UNU-IIGH in Kuching, Malaysia last January 2016.
In his interactive lecture entitled “Reimagining the Future of Health: The Role of the World’s Youth in Advancing the Health of People and Planet,” Dr. Guinto called on youth leaders to become planetary doctors who will take care of the health of people and planet. Through a mix of lecture, discussions, video clips, and even a quiz bee, the session examined some of the major global health issues such as the rise of noncommunicable diseases and the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as emerging threats to planetary health such as rapid urbanization and climate change and the opportunities offered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Do not underestimate your youth. Your seamless access to latest technology, the wide range of educational opportunities within your reach, your connections with fellow youth from other countries, your energy, spirit of innovation, and sense of curiosity – all these are your tools to change the world. Use them well,” conveyed Dr. Guinto to the youth participants.
The conference ended with the adoption of a Youth Declaration which articulated the participants’ stands on several health issues, including environmental pollution. The Declaration called for greater youth involvement in addressing environmental issues, including incorporating of environmental topics into academic curricula and inclusion of youth in implementation of policies and programs.