Last August 29 to 30, Global Peace Foundation, in partnership with SM Cares, Consuelo Foundation, PLDT, SMDC and SM Youth, held the annual Global Youth Summit (GYS) gathering more than 6,000 pre-registered students and youth leaders from the Philippines and 34 other countries in an event that discussed the most pressing global issues affecting them today.
The first fully virtual GYS event reached more than 220,000 viewers combined on Zoom and Facebook. Hashtags #GYS2020 and #GYSTakeaway also became trending topics on Twitter in the Philippines as participants discussed and shared their takeaways on the important topics.
Global Peace Foundation President James Flynn, and Program Director of SM Cares for Children and Youth Royston Cabuñag opened the event with special messages, with Flynn urging the youth to always lead with compassion and integrity. “You can be a leader with compassion and integrity, engaging with personal and collective ingenuity, to develop innovative solutions for our challenged world,” Flynn said.
“May today inspire you that you may find your passion, your purpose, to make the world a truly even better place,” Cabuñag said.
During the first day of the summit, guest speakers focused on health amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources.
National Chair for Youth for Mental Health Coalition Dr. Raymond Naguit talked about equity in health care, while celebrity influencers and SM Youth Ambassadors Kaila Estrada and Andre Lagdameo gave several tips on taking care of one’s mental health, especially during the current health crisis.
Environmentalist and House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda talked about the role of today’s youth in protecting the environment. “Our goal is within our reach if we all work together and if you, our youth, will continue to stand up for the future that you deserve,” Legarda mentioned. Meanwhile, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities Executive Director Red Constantino also enjoined the youth to challenge the establishment as a way to continue inspiring change.
On the second day, discussions revolved around educational system reform, the impact of new and digital technologies, and inequality across different aspects of life.
ASEAN Foundation Executive Director Dr. Yang Mee Eng gave a presentation on upskilling through technology, while Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills Andreas Schleider discussed improving quality and equity in education. “If there is one thing you can do for education, teach fewer things at greater depths. Depths of understanding is what really matters,” Schleider said.
PLDT Inc. First Vice President and Group Corporate Communications Head Cathy Yang discussed the impact of digital and new technologies, and world-renowned content creator Agon Hare of “Project Nightfall” talked about the power of digital content in creating positive change.
In his message to the youth, Hare said: “If you see someone doing good on the internet, do not discourage them. Instead, you should encourage them.” He stressed the importance of using digital tools and technology to promote a positive culture. “I believe that the world needs more good content. It is possible to stand for good things,” Hare added.
Consuelo Foundation President and CEO Greg Auberry, meanwhile, underscored the importance of addressing inequalities in society. In his message, Aubrey said, “With this pandemic, it’s also made us realize that we are still the same. We’re humans with intrinsic value and rights deserving of respect.” TV host and weather anchor Kim Atienza gave an inspiring message on putting faith at the center of one’s life.
SM gift certificates and SMDC gift bags were given away to lucky participants who posted their learnings from the event. Special musical numbers were also performed by local music acts at the end of each day, with The Juans wrapping up day 1, and This Band capping off the second day.
SM Cares is the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Supermalls, dedicated to supporting the community through partnerships with stakeholders in the private and public sectors. Global Peace Foundation engages and organizes a global network of public and private sector partners who develop community, national, and regional peace building models as the foundation for ethical and cohesive societies.