Strengthening youth leadership and capacity in environmental and social action in Huamanga and Jaén, Perú

EcoJesuit

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An exciting new three-year project on the training and democratic participation of youth leaders from Huamanga and Jaén for the environment, areas with the greatest levels of poverty and inequality in Perú, intends to strengthen the capacities and skills of young people regarding environmental issues.

The project was launched last July 2014 at the Casa Matteo Ricci SJ in Huamanga, Ayacucho and sponsored by the Instituto Bartolomé de las Casas and the Centro Loyola Ayacucho.

The project seeks to identify and develop young leaders who can contribute to the solution of environmental problems, work with civil society, and take on new leadership roles from an intercultural perspective. There are three lines of intervention: 1) the development of action proposals that contribute responses to environmental concerns, 2) strengthening of youth leadership skills to enable them implement the action proposals, and 3) the development of proposed action from civil society (which youth groups are recognized as a group and know the agendas of local civil society) raising awareness.

Fifty young men and women from different organizations will be involved, and coming from different fields such as anthropology, biology, social work, law, administration, agronomy, and environmental engineering. Young people were approached from Huamanga and Jaén to find out what they are saying about organizations, politics, environment, youth, their leaders, who they admire, among other topics.

This project will provide insights and perspectives using three approaches: youth, intercultural, and environment, and explore how these can contribute to the development of functional skills for young people in developing responses to their concerns about the environment. Claudia Chiappe and Pluvia Astete of the Instituto Bartolomé de las Casas explained that the project will conduct workshops that will allow participants to understand environmental problems in order to build a dialogue with stakeholders and to develop advocacy plans jointly with local authorities.

The Regional Director of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Mr Mendoza Gonzales, and the representative of the Regional Environmental Commission of Ayacucho, Mr Nuñez Espinoza, were present during the project launch and highlighted the work of their institutions in promoting youth work on environmental issues, and emphasized the need for greater collaboration.

Mr Edison Barzola Gomez, the project coordinator in Ayacucho, shared that the project aims to help young leaders in contributing to responding environmental problems in their communities, working closely with civil society and taking on new leadership roles.

Initial activities are going well, with the youth leadership from Huamanga (Ayacucho) hoping to engage with the community in responding to environmental concerns in the immediate vicinity. Participation so far has been impressive and the commitment shown gives us hope of a future during which the city and its districts can manage their living environment in a sustainable manner and with broad participation from the youth and other stakeholders.