• Published Date: 15/12/2022
  • by: UNDP

Ocean Heroes: keep marine debris out of the ocean with the power of youth and local wisdom from Narathiwat

‘Narathiwat’ is known for the richness of natural resources, notably those from aquatic areas. Although artisanal fishing is the cornerstone of local traditions there, the province has been plagued with frequent volatile weather and marine debris. Plastics are scattered everywhere, from the littered shore to swirling waves, and they force Narathiwat folks to look for a new way of living.

 

For more than 5 years, Youth Co:Lab, supported by UNDP Thailand, has opened up the space for newcomers across the country to visit Bangkok and innovate in a way that responds to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together.  To keep up with the constantly evolving world amidst the pandemic, Youth Co:Lab has previously introduced new measures in convening and nurturing youth: online forum and social entrepreneurship training. These recent changes help sustain the project in the long run, so that more and more younger generations continue to take part in this pursuit of social transformation. 

 

This year, UNDP Thailand decided to take a new initiative – going all the way to the local communities and working out solutions for existing problems along with Thailand Knowledge Park (TK Park), Youth Co:Lab’s major partner who also believed in the power of youth.

 

Litter has been with us for the longest time, now when will it be gone? 

Although Ocean Heroes is not a never-seen-before project, it was the first time Narathiwat Knowledge Park hosted such a training camp. It all began with plastic litters caught in fishing gears of artisanal fishers near a gulf. Combined with fishing debris such as used drift nets, those litters were major pollutants that exacerbated environmental degradation. Thus, the UNDP-Narathiwat Knowledge Park collaboration through the 2022 Youth Co:Lab was intended to fix this issue with innovation on the grounds. From February of this year onwards, staff from UNDP Thailand visited the project site, engaged in various conversations and trust-building activities with local stakeholders. In June, staff from Narathiwat Knowledge Park also joined the “Train the Trainers” project to learn more about the SDGs and facilitator’s skills. 

 

More than 100 participants from 19 teams applied for the Ocean Heroes project, which was hosted back in October. Due to the limited capacity of staff, only 5 teams, or 25 participants, were selected. However, the overwhelming numbers of applications received showed that this project was able to reach the target group and arouse their interest in participatory activism. The majority of the participants were pursuing secondary education, and the main age range of the participants was 16-21. Narathiwat Knowledge Park organized a learning activity called “First Meet,” introducing the basics of the SDGs and marine pollution and waste management. Given by staff from Prince of Songkla University and entrepreneurs who specialized in recycled products, the lecture showed possibilities of change to youth. The First Meet event then quickly morphed into interviews with local stakeholders. In this part, participants identified connections between each interviewee and different angles of the issue that interested them. After categorizing problems according to the SDGs, they were tasked to answer the following questions: what would be the ideal solution? Who would benefit from it, and whose support and collaboration was necessary for its future success?

 

All of the aforementioned processes were rooted in a human-centered approach and designed to prepare the participants for online pitching. The judging panel was joined by UNDP staff; instructors from the Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University; and officials from Narathiwat Provincial Education Office. After carefully assessing the depths of each project, they would select 5 finalists, or 25 participants. 

 

Although some left with disappointment, their understanding of marine debris also followed them to the next stage of their life. They are now equipped with a thinking system that allows innovation to prosper in their own hands. 

 

 

All solutions start with local wisdom 

No one should be left behind, and innovation sprung from traditional knowledge deserves to be recognized as valuable community creation. After the first round, 5 selected teams joined the Ocean Heroes training camp. Human-centered design was employed as the main framework of learning. Before embarking on the innovative journey, they must first master the skill of empathizing. To accomplish this goal, staff from Narathiwat Knowledge Park took the participants on a daily trip to see artisanal fishers, so that they could take in the stakeholders’ insights on marine debris and learn from a different set of lived experiences.  They talked with each household, collected data, and made sense out of it.  To identify core issues, problem tree analysis was a chosen method for this part. This was the hardest of all steps as the participants had to develop a solid overview of the issue before prioritizing their goals. 

 

In the following days, facilitators helped them ideate solutions. The participants visited different communities to learn more about local wisdom in Narathiwat. Local innovation offered relatability and inspiration for younger generations to develop it into something of their own. During these trips, 5 finalists learned more about bulrush mats of Baan Ton village, batik fabrics of Bacho District, and  the making of zebra dove cages. 

 

At this point, the participants began to change their thinking system. To them, solutions were diversifiable, and possibilities seemed to never run dry. From being stricken with hesitance, fear of judgment, and unconstructive comfort found in the same, old idea, they discovered joy in problem-solving and making the concrete prototypes of their once abstract solutions. Their creations would be used in the final round.  

 

The selected winner was the team that came up with ‘camping chairs made of discarded fishing nets.’ They transformed used fishing gears into functional and modern products. “Net-woven handbags,” inspired by local bulrush mats, won the runner-up prize. Plastic litters from the ocean were transformed into these artisanal products, practically reducing marine debris. The third prize winner was “marine garbage screeners,” based on scientific knowledge accrued from facilitators. This innovation was a refreshing alternative to recycled products that also helped with debris reduction.

 

In just 3 days and 2 nights, the youth of Narathiwat were able to exercise their creativity in an impressively systematic way. And their ideas would not simply stay idealistic; the project continued to run even after the competition ended, so that the participants could develop their prototypes into thriving social enterprises and receive funding for product testing.

 

The Ocean Heroes project, in collaboration with UNDP Thailand and Narathiwat Knowledge Park, was the stepping stone towards sustainable innovation. This is not a task that can be taken lightly, so are public relations and marketing, a necessary addition to Narathiwat youth’s repertoire of skills.

 

By participating in this project as the citizens of Narathiwat, the participants were driven to make positive changes that corresponded to their experiences, leaving a long-lasting impact on quality of life and local livability. Now they know that minor lives are capable of pushing for major transformation anytime. That changes arise from the common ground forged on different views. That innovation is not just a big word, but an act of humbly listening to the concerns of local people, with their interest in mind.

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  • Published Date: 06/12/2022
  • by: UNDP

Clean Air Heroes: when youth and adults from Mae Hong Son join hands in smog reduction 

 

For a group of young people from Mae Sariang, a ride to Mae Hong Son Knowledge Park stretched into 3 hours. They came as participants in the project competition called “Clear Air Heroes 2022.” Just like other contestants who had to travel over a long distance to be there, they only knew that this competition was different. This was a chance for them to present the fruit of their self-made, innovative labor to UNDP and the Knowledge Park.

 

Annual smog is a major issue that poses threats to everyone across the gender-age spectrum, notwithstanding their social status. The arrival of winter means that it is time to go back to wearing masks, not to protect oneself against the pandemic, but to filter out airborne particles. During that time, the sky would be engulfed in air pollution to the point that even passenger planes are forbidden to fly. With this situation in mind, how can groups of 5 youthful participants make a long-lasting change? And which tools will help them grasp the ways of inclusive development?

 

If you recognize what is happening to your community, you already understand the SDGS. 

 

Let’s begin with a story from Khun Aim-orn “Aim” Limwattana, a Mae Hong Son Knowledge Park officer and organizer of the 2022 Clear Air Heroes competition. After 10 teams passed the preliminary rounds, they were asked to learn about the relevance of the 17 SDGs from experts sponsored by UNDP. This process proved to be a challenge, as the staff had to make sure that all the 50 participants were on the same page. Still, it was the beginning of a beautiful change. Annual smog brought in younger generations  to discuss and present a set of solutions to their daily peril. If they could make it go away with a sustainable approach, the quality of life of everyone in Mae Hong Son would be improved in a blink of an eye. 

 

“Of all Northern Thailand, Mae Hong Son is the site of the worst recorded level of air pollution. This is because forests account for more than 85% of its topography, with a majority of them being deciduous dipterocarp forests. In other words, these are a natural, major source for fire hazards. Most forest areas in Mae Hong Son are  currently  occupied by various ethnic communities, who sustain their lives with natural resources, but 84% of the areas are also declared state-owned. Previous measures from the government did nothing to the annual smog because they failed to consider the local context and ways of living.

 

After the participants discovered the SDGs, their second day at the competition unfolded with brainstorming and solution design. Khun Aim reveals that it was refreshing to take part in a project competition such as this. Every participant displayed a strong level of commitment and a creative mindset that shaped their innovation along with their lived experiences. This proves that a thorough understanding of the SDGs is not a necessity. As long as people wish to transform their communities for the better, sustainable innovation will eventually take shape. The participants’ experiments with solution design had turned into their lessons for sustainable development. Khun Aim notices that the project competition provides just the right amount of pressure. The participants clearly understood that this was a major breakthrough for them. They could present their work to international and other relevant organizations, from whom they could seek consultations in the final round. In this way, the collaboration between TK Park, who provided space and contextual understanding of the issues, and UNDP, a supporter of innovative thinking tools, materialized into a reality.

 

 

Innovation for all

 

Once again, 5 selected teams had to spend hours on the road before reaching the urban area, where the final round of the project competition was held. 

 

Khun Aim explained that the exciting part of this event was that key actors from the public and private sectors agreed to attend the presentation sessions as stakeholders and fellow solution designers. This gesture of support made the participants feel heard. All 5 remaining teams had prepared and presented their projection proposal with confidence, illustrating the intersectional nature of environmental issues and required solutions (e.g. relocation of waste burning area for maximum smog reduction, smog detection system to raise awareness for the local communities, and recycling projects).

 

The interesting bit of this project competition, as pointed out by Khun Aim, was that the participants truly paid attention to their competitors. They all came from different schools, different communities, and different backgrounds. Some were only 15, while others were already studying at the vocational college. A diversity of ideas and expertise among youth from Mae Hong Son in turn created a bridge to further learning and the future.

 

“KWIT,” a team from Khunyuam Witthaya School, won the first prize. Their project revolved around the usage of a microcontroller with a dust and particle detector. The team came up with a well-structured presentation that laid down all the details in product creation, from PBC soldering, coding, to real-life application. The machine used sensors for dust and particle detection. All the results would be viewable on the screen and the dedicated application. 

 

In the meantime, “Keep Together,” a team from Mae Sariang Unit of Mae Hong Son Community College, was awarded with the second prize. The innovation proudly presented by them was a waste-to-energy machine, using thermoelectric coolers to generate electricity for small appliances such as smartphones or LEDs. The reason for this sustainable invention was electricity shortage during summer. The other teams provided their solutions in forms of an air purifier made of recycled materials, a smoke-free waste incinerator, and coasters produced from waste straws. 

 

Khun Aim adds that every presentation revealed a promising potential behind each participant. What they lacked was experience and foresight in project implementation. This could be seen during the Q&A sessions, when the juries asked them about the cost of production, product testing, and insights into social enterprise. For youth, this project competition was a laboratory of learning and preparation for future project pitching. 

 

 

Opportunities carry more weight than shiny prizes

 

After the presentation sessions, various organizations expressed genuine interest in project development. Khun Aim said that a company called We Eco would like to support the  dust and particle detector, as the company was working on the same innovation. The Bureau of the Royal Household, another key actor in smog reduction, also attended the final round. For Mae Hong Son municipality, the waste-to-energy machine attracted their attention with its possibility of being distributed to remote, off-grid areas. Furthermore, it could reduce the need for waste incineration, effectively mitigating the air pollution. 

 

As of now, all the projects are in development. The participants are now currently resuming their roles as students. However, this is the starting point for success that outlasts the competition itself. This is where conversations flow across status and different living conditions.

 

As a Knowledge Park officer who  worked closely with youth, Khun Aim tells us, with a spark of enthusiasm in her eyes, that the local communities greatly benefit from  learning tools from UNDP. Although her area of interest is generally occupied with ICT, the SDGs are applicable to any project, ensuring local sustainability and boundless flexibility of  learning and brainstorming among youth.

 

The Clean Air Heroes project shows us that the new blood of Mae Hong Son is imbued with so much potential. With sufficient resources, support systems, and learning space, innovation will always blossom at the local level. 

 

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  • Published Date:
  • by: UNDP

When young people step up to transform their hometown: on creative space that leaves no one behind

 

In each passing era, social changes and social issues were diversely defined. Equality, once a hallmark of 19th-century progress, is now enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This pushes for a development process that honors both success and failure. A step forward never means leaving anyone behind. Whether the end of our journey will embrace every life or not, that depends on the way the development process brings us along.

 

At the moment, the SDGs might not be a big news to us. For the past 10 years, the media and many organizations have already discussed them. We no longer need to cite the goals in full, as all the issues tackled have well entered into the public consciousness. The next step that we must take is to grapple with the following questions: how can we uncover the nexus between social issues, and how do we transform the needs of minor lives into the development process that begets both structural changes and genuine sustainability?

 

‘Us,’ the change-makers

 

Like characters in a film, ‘we,’ too, have different things to carry out. Different roles to play, for example. Different responsibilities to shoulder. Different purposes of existence in a play of this world. Different scenes to enact. Despite a lengthy list of dissimilarity between our lives-roles,  all of our contributions will always carry into the denouement. If we think of changes as the consequences of protagonists’ actions, then who should step in to take up these leading roles, then?

 

If we believe that young people are future citizens, blessed with vitality and scintillating creativity, then we can dedicate a learning space for them to experiment and share knowledge with one another. This can drive the young to see, and chase after, the horizon of possibilities and changes that lie beyond, no matter how long social disruptions and crises go on.  Yes, certain issues might put too much weight on them, but the roles of change-makers belong to the young alone.

 

Connecting the dots between each role, piecing together the stories of individuals – these are but the overture to our common goal:  changes that pave the way forward and help young people in exercising their full potential. As a core element of these, a learning setting expands the boundaries of young people’s capacity to guide the tides of change with hope.

 

In this article, we invite you to join a conversation with UNDP Thailand and TK Park, two driving forces behind the birth of various learning spaces across the years, and explore their perspective on, as well as projects about, changes in the making.

 

 

When collaboration morphs into a succession of fast-paced and sustainable changes

 

It has been 5 years since Youth:CoLab Thailand, led by UNDP Thailand, first started out as a platform that drew potential of change from young people. Not only those youthful sparks of social transformation orient the society towards the 17 SDGs, they also touch on problems at the local level.

 

As Youth Engagement and Social Innovation Officer from UNDP Thailand, Khun Nitchakan “Kadae” Daramatat condenses the lessons learned along the way into a summary of all the happenings: discrepancies between metropolitan youth’s capacity and those of other provinces are palpable. So far young participants from vulnerable communities display a profound understanding of their own problems. This is partly attributed to their lived experiences. However, when compared to young people from the metropolitan region, it is evident that they lack communication strategy and tools. It is also revealed that cross-sector collaboration is the main catalyst for sustainable change.

 

“As for the 2022 Youth:CoLab Thailand, UNDP Thailand has received strong support from Thailand Knowledge Park (TK Park), an important partner who also advocates capacity development for citizens. We started with small provinces, such as Mae Hong Son, Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, et cetera, bearing in mind that our goal had always been about instilling the learner mindset in young people while instigating sustainable development at the local level. Then we saw that learning and community development could bring young people so much joy. This was where TK Park, an organization that specialized in education, and UNDP, a promoter of development, met.” Khun Kadae speaks of challenges and her previous collaboration with TK Park.

 

Creating a learning space for ‘everyone,’ not just young people

 

Learning is always associated with children and youth. It is no secret that Thai adults believe it is too late for them to learn. But for TK Park, this should not be taken as a fact. Although the majority of TK Park users are young generations, the organization endeavors to answer all the learning needs of people across the age spectrum, assisting everyone in enhancing their skills and establishing lifelong learning.  An inclusive learning space equips citizens with knowledge, expands the possibilities and depths of development, while embracing mistakes and newly discovered paths towards sustainable progress.

Khun Kittirat “Tong” Pitipanich, Director of TK Park, deconstructs the mainstream perception of TK Park. “Many think of TK Park as a mega library within Bangkok’s imposing department store, but in fact it is a mere library, another mechanism to diversify the ways of learning with books as its main medium. It was created to be a learning model for everyone.”

 

TK Park has passed its living library on to partner organizations across the country, from the local administration to municipalities, as they are responsible for establishing local learning spaces (e.g. Education Outside the Classroom [EOTC] and people’s libraries). The TK Park model is all about experimenting with new prototypes, new innovations, or new services, supported by a set of indicators called the Social Return of Investment (SROI). Focusing on user participation, this monitoring and evaluation system helps track the frequency of relevant activities such as book borrowing rates and information access via social networking systems.

 

“We found that our online platforms attracted more and more users, notably during the pandemic. The numbers of our users are now 3 times more than what we had pre-pandemic. There are now 31 learning spaces in 23 provinces, with 2 newest spaces will be established in 2023 in Phayao and Surat Thani. In the future, we hope to open our learning spaces in other provinces. TK Park is currently in partnership with more than 300 education networks, collaborating closely with relevant organizations such as the Ministry of Education, Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and the Department of Corrections, who manages “the Library of Wisdom.” Khun Tong reflects on the outcomes of education investment over the years, particularly amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, and TK Park’s ambitions to expand their spaces of learning.

 

Although TK Park positions itself as a space for every individual, certain issues require youth leadership in problem solving. This is precisely why investment in youth and capacity-building is on TK Park’s top priority. If we can nourish the minds of younger generations, they will emerge as precious human resources with a long journey ahead. This will benefit the local communities, families of young people, and even every life in this country.

 

 

Clear seawater and air for all

 

In this year, Youth:CoLab Thailand dived into the local communities, searching for issues that already interested young people. As one of the most important partners, TK Park created bridges that led to many communities. The duty of coordination fell on UNDP, who stepped up and became a focal point of contact, driving youthful creativity from behind and drawing support from various stakeholders across the country.

 

“We started with making sense out of the local context, understanding what the community members identified as issues and non-issues, instead of tossing around the notion of the SDGs. In this way, we can really grasp what the problems are. Some communities have environmental issues, climate issues, education issues, or even a crisis of inequality.” Khun Kadae explains the action plan and participatory process of the 2022 Youth:CoLab Thailand.

 

Collaboration leads to a novelty of analytical approach that focuses on local issues. It encourages the community members to observe their surroundings with critical gaze, unearthing the hidden interplay between the social and the environmental. This leads to a “how” question set – how can we improve all aspects of life? How can we create a common ground? Because sustainable development encompasses socio-economic and environmental dimensions. It asks us to think long and hard about how to make economic growth happen without environmental degradation, and how ecological conservation can go hand in hand with economic development.

 

Khun Kadae addes that “UNDP also organized a human-centric design training for TK Park staff across the country. It is not a training-training, but rather a space for sharing learning experiences. The TK Park staff offered their insights on the adaptation of human-centric design to their communities, based on the interesting local issues. The UNDP would then assist them in turning their vision into a reality. This leads to sharing of knowledge, collaborative approaches, and thinking systems between 2 organizations.”

 

Khun Tong refers to his experiences in working with the local community in Mae Hong Son. He found that persistent air pollution, such as haze and smog, had been threatening people for years. What his team did was creating a learning space, providing analytical tools for the community members and participants, establishing “the Clean Air Heroes” project that supported youth leadership.

 

Due to its proximity to seawater, Narathiwat has one major problem: water sources. This is how “the Ocean Hero” project comes into being. It drives the community members to come up with solutions that only they can think of.

 

 

The power of creativity

 

With TK Park as the facilitator who understands the local context and UNDP as the knowledge manager and provider of development toolkits, possibilities of change emerge out of youthful creativity. Khun Tong speaks of the lessons learned from UNDP-TK Park collaboration.

 

“Everytime I hear a story from young community members, I am convinced that a safe space for them to think or experiment freely helps them see their true potential. Besides being a learning space, it is a place where opinions are deeply heard and felt. When this resolve reaches young people, it does strengthen their commitment to problem solving. This is how meaningful collaboration begins.”

 

“I saw collaboration between the local administration, the state committee, and the private sector. I saw conjoint involvement from the local members, such as professors, private enterprises, or municipalities. However, the gap between young people and their mentors was so evident when compared to such national-level missions. This is the biggest difference we have seen so far. I found that creating an ecosystem of support for young community members would have a long-lasting impact. The more adults from various organizations listen to youth, the more hopeful they feel for their communities. This in turn reinforces local networks.

 

“The problems we are experiencing right now are complex by nature. A single solution from UNDP will neither make them go away nor pave the way for rapid transformation,” added Khun Kadae.

 

With TK Park’s goals and missions to establish learning spaces that continue for more than a decade, Khun Tong believes that the collaboration with UNDP Thailand is the stepping stone towards a kind of development that allows youth and the local communities to instigate the change they want. The next big step is making this development process sustainable.

 

“Many things start when we first climb the ladder of change. As of now, TK Park has built the first step. The hardest thing to do next would be building the second, the third, and the fourth steps. Having youth joining us in observing the local issues and realizing that there is always a way out is the first step for them. It is like a light at the end of a tunnel. We hope that our young participants can build a next step on their own.”

 

At the end, what TK Park and UNDP did might not be groundbreaking. Many may think that the outcomes of their projects are too nebulous to see, too impossible to change anything.

 

“What we did, and did well, was nurturing trust. The community members knows that we did all of that without ulterior motives. We came with a clear action plan. We had key actors  we wanted to talk to. We could get everyone on the same page. We did not simply throw a set of solutions at them. Trust takes time to build. We have to be patient in order to know what we can do exactly and how we should plan the projects. This is a delicate matter. Certain issues are adults’ issues. But change must begin with the young.”

 

This is just the beginning of the collaboration between TK Park and UNDP, a growth journey wherein nobody knows better than the rest. This is where knowledge is shared. This is a structure of sustainability that keeps up with younger generations who are ready to make change in their hometown, no matter how complicated and entrenched the problems are. If we have the same vision and goals, the solutions will benefit us all.

 

 

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  • Published Date: 26/05/2022
  • by: UNDP

Youth Meaningful Participation: 8 rungs to the meaningful engagement

Have you ever experienced full and effective youth participation? 👬💭👭
It is clear that these days, youth is becoming an important stakeholder and everyone seems to be eager in bringing youth to the table or organizing fun activities to promote many issues towards our sustainable future.
However, how many of us actually understand the level of youth participation that is needed.
Today, we have a solution to share. After learning about these 8 rungs of ‘Ladder for Young People’s Participation’ by Roger A. Hart published in Children’s Participation: From tokenism to Citizenship, please let us know which rung have you experienced or would like to experience more?

Starting with the lowest level of youth participation.

Rung 1 – Manipulation: projects or activities that are entirely designed and run by adults. It is conveyed and pretended that the causes presented in the event are inspired by young people, while, in fact, children and youth are barely getting any meaningful roles for that event, for example, children or youth’s performances that are purely guided by adults, young people holding political signs without understanding the context and their action, and the news titled ‘Youth action for climate change’ while there is no details on how youth involve in that event or mostly mentioned as run by adult ‘officials’.

Rung 2 – Decoration: refers to the occasions when young people are used to help or promote the cause without them understanding about it. The difference from the first rung is that adults do not pretend that the causes are inspired by young people, for example, young people are invited to the event for refreshments, wear a t-shirt and take a photo without them knowing what is the context of the issues they participate in.

Rung 3 – Tokenism: young people appear to be given a voice, with little or no options for participating in the subjects. They barely have the opportunity to formulate their own opinions. The voice or inputs proposed are not seriously taken forward into the decision-making process or no feedback to the proposal at all, for example, an event invite young influencer to join the workshop with the other youths and discuss about the cause but there is no explanation of background on the topic or clear representation of each participants, the next day, the news posted the event with the focus only on the influencer and no mention about other young people’s involvement and inputs related to the youth voice given to the process.

Rung 4 – Assigned but informed: this is the level that young people are assigned to a specific role and being informed about details on intention of projects, who made the decisions related to their involvement and why, being put in meaningful role rather than decorative ones either as functional or symbolic purpose, and volunteer to the project after the details are well-informed to them, for example, young people are assigned to their works as supporting information for the discussion process or advocating for emerging topics to gain attention and convince stakeholders on issues that most impacted to them which might lead to the adoption of certain issues or practices.Rung 5 – Consulted and informed: happens when young people are consulted and provide advice to the adult which they know that the inputs are taken seriously through the adult-led process and outcomes are made by the adults, for example, youth are invited to participate in a consultation workshop where youth inputs are taken into account for the formulation of a transportation roadmap for the city. Youth also get informed about the background and have enough time to prepare their inputs to propose at the meeting. However, the final call of the roadmap and its operation will be made by adults after.

Rung 6 – Adult-initiated, shared decisions with young people: of course, not all types of community development projects can be initiated by people from all ages. However, it is crucial to ensure participatory processes are implemented with involvement of various groups in particular of young, elderly and vulnerable groups. This rung occurs when the projects are initiated by adults but young people take part and share their decision together with adults, for example, a company is having a budget to organize community activities with youth in the local area. Youth are invited to take part in the planning and implementation of the workshops. Youth get to make decisions on communication materials and workshop facilitation together with adults resulting in collaborative outputs and outcomes for the projects.Rung 7 – Young people-initiated and directed: this happens when young people initiate their own projects by having adults play supportive roles to those youth-led projects. It was also found that usually adults are bad at responding to young people’s initiatives as it is hard for them not to jump in, suggesting safe solutions, stopping inappropriate actions in their view or, sometimes, even take charge which if improperly executed, might become an obstacle for young people to learn, feel empowered, and show their potentials and creative skills, for example, a youth club decided to organize a camp with their peers at the university about LGBTI+. Young people have taken a lead on formulating ideas, proposals and implementation, adults are being supportive by providing resources either as financial or resource persons and logistics to make their ideas/projects come true.

Rung 8 – Young people-initiated, shared decisions with adults: is the top level of participation as young people are able to use their aspiration and creativity to initiate projects that most respond to their purposes and needs by still including adults in the shared decision-making process. This way of participation does not only allow youth to fully exercise their ability, but learn and develop themselves from working with experienced adults on relevant skills and topics, for example, a group of young people created a project helping the youth community who struggled from the impact of COVID19. The youth group has created the proposal and taken the lead of the project while still inviting adults to be part of the team and share decisions on implementation together. In the meantime, youth get to learn how to best operationalized the project and resources. The youth team also learnt management skills and getting more networks from working with the adults which will benefit them in the long-run after this project.

From all of the participation levels presented, it is not necessary that young people always must apply the highest possible rungs of the ladder. Different children and youth have different times, responsibilities, preferences and constraints that allow them to be involved at a certain degree of participation. The important principle is that programmes should be designed which maximize the opportunity for any young people to choose to participate at the highest level of their ability at that moment.

UNDP Thailand understands the importance of youth participation and has been working with youth on various topics covering civic engagement, economic empowerment, and change agent for SDGs. Check out more details about the UNDP Youth Strategy at https://bit.ly/3BZyx7S

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  • Published Date: 02/12/2020
  • by: UNDP

Learning journey of Youth Co:Lab 2020

Experienced by youth, Initiated by youth, and the solutions by youth is the idea of the Youth Co:Lab, the always sphere for youth to create social innovation.

​The severe global issues, the pandemic of the COVID-19, have made it easy for the organizer to select the theme that fits the society’s current challenges. The theme, the COVID-19 Recovery, has been initiated regarding the questionnaire responded by the youths across Thailand concerning their challenges during the pandemic of the COVID-19. Relatively, the sub-themes on social issues cover educational problems, economic challenges, mental illness, and gendered domestic violence.

​The whole process of Youth Co:Lab consumed several months, the situation of the pandemic of the COVID-19 has been changed. During the preparation stage of the program, the pandemic of the COVID-19 was severe in Thailand. In contrast, the situation has become better on the workshop day. However, the seemingly better circumstances on the pandemic of the COVID- 19 in Thailand do not affect the program’s selected theme as there are collective issues youths have faced regardless the COVID-19 situation. However, the pandemic of the COVID-19 and the new normal did accelerate and insist on the crucial demands to tackle these social issues.

The insights on the social issues during the development process of their project has become crucial to improve and advance their project. Most significantly, the program also aims to bring together all those new generations that share similar interests on social challenges as done by all previous programs. Therefore, this article is to conclude the lesson learned that made this year’s Youth Co:Lab program successful.

 

Online Classroom

Learning from the experiences of organizing the previous years’ Youth Co:Lab, the staff acknowledges that the three-day program was tense and intensive for the participant to learn, develop and pitch the project under the time limitation. Thus, it was hard to expect for an obvious learning curve. The organizers, therefore, have frequently been discussing and considering organizing the program online in order to lengthen the learning period. Responsively, this year is the first year that the Youth Co:Lab has been organized online.

The increasing use of online channels for learning and meeting purposes has become normalized during the pandemic of the COVID-19. Therefore, there are possibilities to change from organizing the physical workshop to the online one. This online workshop allows us to provide more inclusive information and learning materials to the participants. The program consists of a four-day online workshop and the physical workshop of two and a half-day. As a result, the participants have an opportunity to pitch their projects that they have been developing for the entire period of almost two months.

​The result of the online workshop is worthwhile, while there are some disadvantages. On one hand, the online channel offers more intensive content of the workshop. On the contrary, the organizers are aware that participants might feel more comfortable and safer to interact and exchange in person than online. However, it is found that hosting the workshop online and extending the workshop time allows the participants to feel safe to engage with each other. The continuity of the workshop eventually enhances the participants to interact, discuss, and share. The friendships, the shared interests, and commitment to transform to a better society even more greatly contribute to the relation of the participants overcoming the disadvantages of the online.

However, the online channel could not be in replacement for the in-person workshop. The organizers, therefore, decided to hold a physical workshop at the end of the programme to create a sphere for participants to exchange their interests and information, to draw out the lesson learned from the workshop and present their project that is developed according to what they have discussed and learned from the both online and offline workshop.

One more advantage of hosting the workshop online is that all the information and resources have been collected online, reducing the unnecessary repetitions of data collection. The online workshop, in addition, portrays more concrete improvement and commitment of all participants.

 

 

All support is Ready

Before the workshop starts, the organizing team has contacted the experts on several social issues to share their insights, their expertise, and to reflect on the projects, so the participants can advance their projects to be more efficient. Sanon Wangsrangboon, Co-founder of  Locall, has provided the suggestion on the employment creation in the restaurant industry during the pandemic of the COVID – 19. Dr. Rangsan Wiboonuppatum, an education officer from UNICEF, also provided consultations on educational innovation in the workshop.

​This year is the first year that the workshop has been supported by the Youth Co:Lab alumni to be the mentors or supporters for each group. The mentors are responsible for answering any possible questions that the participants might have, providing suggestions, and strengthening the group project.

One of the mentors who was a participant from last year Youth Co:Lab revealed that while helping and providing suggestions to improve the project, it is an opportunity to learn the more updated innovation, which is more intensive and different from last year.

 

What’s inside the online workshop?

Thank you to HandUp Network and ChangeFusion to help us facilitate in the processes of the four-week online workshop. In the first week, along with the ice-breaking activities to enhance the engagement and learning environment, participants have a chance to meet and introduce themselves. The first classroom’s main objective is to provide an understanding of the problems that their solutions are to be solved.

​The tool, problem tree, used to create an understanding of the problems does not provide only the current situations that the team is interested in but also the understanding of the root of the problems and a well-rounded understanding of their impacts.

After seeing through the problems, each group of participants was assigned to do the stakeholder mappings and figure out what each stakeholder does. This step helps the participants to appropriately situate themselves in the problem nexus and focus on the main problem.

​The session ends with solidating the problem statement to clearly define the territory of the project that each group is coping with.

​The first-day online class is very intensive and strict with a short break. The reflection on the program has been used to improve the next class to be more flexible.  

​The second online workshop is about ideation. Because all the team has already prepared their ideas since their application, the session focuses more on revising their ideas, finding pros and cons, and identifying the significance of their innovation.

​To make the participant not too exhausted with their project, the Ice Breaking activities have focused more on the interaction and share information of the participants on general topics so that they can be away from the central theme of their work for a short while.

​The third online class is about learning business plan through the Business Model Canvas. The content is sophisticated and complicated, so the session’s central idea is to remind the participants not to forget the business side of the innovation, which will ensure the creation of the innovation and sustain the innovation.

​When each team has a clear picture of the problem, finds some ideas to solve the problem, and recognizes the importance of the business part, the last online class discusses the social impacts under the Theory of Change.

Once each team can identify their expected social impact, each team is asked to make a reverse plan from one-year estimated outcomes to six months and provide more details on milestone activities and action plans that will bring success to the project.

​The online workshop does only aim for providing inputs to develop an innovative project for each team, but to build the social transformer network of the youth. During the workshop, the political movement in Thailand is very intense. Therefore, the organizing team provides the space for discussing the current situation under the safe and respectful environment to express opinions. The organizing team believes that creating social innovation while ignoring the current social issues may be unavailing.

Our First Meet

One of the purposes of the Youth Co:Lab is to create a network between participants, supporters, and all stakeholders.

​Even though the learning session about the tool used in developing innovation has been completed online, the meeting and exchange in person have been performed. This is the purpose of the organizers to bring all participants to meet in person.

​Almost all the participants agreed that meeting all the workshop participants in person is the most impressive part. Participants meet with diverse groups of people such as Pkakenyaw from Mae Hong Sorn province, Muslim youth from the three-southeast provinces of Thailand, and youth from the central part of Thailand. All the participants have different skills and interests so that they can share their views and experiences. This helps to broaden their viewpoints and to learn about different cultural contexts and backgrounds.

Ideas Become True

​During the meeting between the participants, the organizer team has invited the Social Entrepreneurs who have succeeded in business and created the social impact to share their experiences to inspire and become the participant’s motivation to continue their project. Some of the social entrepreneurs are the alumni of the Youth Co:Lab, such as Thanakorn Promyot, the co-founder of Yonghappy (Youth Co:Lab alumni 2017), and Sarocha Tiansri, co-founder of Pa’ Learn (Youth Co:Lab alumni 2019).  

​Before the last day of the program, each team reviewed the status of their projects and learned about the SDGs where each team got to apply the concept of inclusive society to their projects as well as considering the economic, social, and environmental impacts. Even though the SDGs are not obligated in this presentation, it increases each team’s awareness to review their project, whether it leads to sustainable and inclusive transformation.

​One of the participants mentioned that the session on SDGs is one of the most impressive sessions because it helps to broaden the direction of the project and find the possibility of the project to be more inclusive.

 

Project Presentation

The end of the first phase is when the participants pitched their project to the committee and other participants. The presentation provided crucial information to help the audiences understand and find social innovation, which has been eagerly developed during the program with the challenges on time limitation, beneficial.

Before presenting the project, issues that should be included, and examples of the effective presentation methods and strategies have been suggested. The suggestions will be only the guides that the participants can adopt, apply and design if they fit with their innovations. The presentation is not only for the contest, but the organizers hope that it will be an excellent opportunity for the participants to narrate the problems that they or their relatives or friends experience in their everyday lives. The organizers also hope that the participants can summarize the ideas and knowledge from the workshop and share it with other participants.  

All ten team have developed their projects, and they have their work plan ready to be implemented and eventually, achieve their goals. Even though only five out of ten teams will receive the funds to trial their project for three months, it does not mean that all the team will gain nothing from their work developed along with the program. They are able to further their projects in several ways, such as making a prototype from their idea, finding a new partner in the program to proceed with their projects, or making a proposal to the other activities or other opening opportunities.

 

This project could not be successful without the collaboration from the enthusiastic youth who apply for this program. We are thankful for our partners, Citi Foundation, UNICEF,Thailand Institute of Justice, True Incube, and the National Innovation Agency (NIA) for their collaboration on organizing the program, providing multidiscipline knowledge to the participants. We are very grateful to the facilitators from the Hand Up Network and the Changefusion for their hard work on instructing and supporting all ten teams throughout the program.

What are the stories behind the five selected team, who will benefit from their innovation, and how will the innovation solve these particular social problems? It will be narrated in the next articles. Please stay tuned!

 

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  • Published Date: 24/09/2019
  • by: UNDP

Nas Daily, an influencer who campaigns against social segregation

Many of us have known today’s famous vlogger and influencer Nas Daily from his short one-minute videos and the signature send-off tagline, “That’s one minute, see you tomorrow!” Nas Daily is Nuseir Yassi, a 26-year-old Palestinian-Israeli who decided to travel the world and make one video every day not only to document his journey, but also expose his viewers to new experiences around the world. In one of Yassi’s more outstanding videos, he opens with,

“I hope this video make you angry, because it makes me angry”

 

 

This episode of Nas Daily is titled “Segregation”. When we hear the word segregation, we would think about the separation of people on the basis of race, skin color, sex, religion, and other differences, leading to inequality, discrimination and intolerance. Even as societies have advanced and connected without borders, and people’s views are more open; racial discrimination still often manifests itself in schools, societies, and communities, on and offline. What follows is nevertheless conflict.

 

 

At the beginning of his video, Nuseir Yassin talks about his childhood as an Arab who didn’t have any Jewish friends. It wasn’t because he hated Jews, but because Jews and Arabs didn’t want to live around each other. In Israel where Yassin lived, segregation exists much like in many more countries around the world. There, Jews and Arabs would live in different neighborhoods. They wouldn’t go to the same school or associate with each other in any way.

He adds that this racial segregation is no one’s fault. It’s only natural for humans to gravitate towards those with the same culture. But self-segregation from the rest of society on the basis of faith or race, he notes, is dangerous. For instance, although London has rich racial diversity; Muslims, black people and white people live separately. The Muslims have their own neighborhood and they’re surrounded by their own culture. Society is, then, broken up into parts that don’t mix with one another. And when they don’t see or understand the others, it becomes easier to hate. This is why segregation is frightening.

 

 

However, there’s a solution. Yassin shares about Singapore, a country with a diverse population of Malays, Chinese and Indians. 81% of the people live in public housing which is required by the government to fulfill a racial quota: in every 100 apartments, there are 74 Chinese families, 13 Indian households and 13 Malaysian ones. No one race occupies 100% of public housing, and this creates a good model for racial integration. Jun Xiang, a representative from Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) who is featured in the video also added,

“We have encouraged social mixing so that people of different racial groups stay together and understand the lifestyle of each other,”

 

This kind of social mixing enables people of different races to meet and mingle: children play together in the playground and become friends as their parents say hello to each other in the elevator. If this integration policy worked in Singapore, it can be adopted by any country in the world. Because no matter where they are, governments should find a way to encourage people of different races to live together. Not only in the policy level that should be changed, but we should also teach our children and the next generations to understand cultural diversity, and accept and respect others’ differences so that we can live harmoniously as one big society and there can be no place left for segregation.

 

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There are many innovation platforms all over the world. What makes Thailand Social Innovation Platform unique is that we have created a Thai platform fully dedicated to the SDGs, where social innovators in Thailand can access a unique eco system of entrepreneurs, corporations, start-ups, universities, foundations, non-profits, investors, etc. This platform thus seeks to strengthen the social innovation ecosystem in Thailand in order to better be able to achieve the SDGs. Even though a lot of great work within the field of social innovation in Thailand is already happening, the area lacks a central organizing entity that can successfully engage and unify the disparate social innovation initiatives taking place in the country.

This innovation platform guides you through innovative projects in Thailand, which address the SDGs. It furthermore presents how these projects are addressing the SDGs.

Aside from mapping cutting-edge innovation in Thailand, this platform aims to help businesses, entrepreneurs, governments, students, universities, investors and others to connect with new partners, projects and markets to foster more partnerships for the SDGs and a greener and fairer world by 2030.

The ultimate goal of the platform is to create a space for people and businesses in Thailand with an interest in social innovation to visit on a regular basis whether they are looking for inspiration, new partnerships, ideas for school projects, or something else.

We are constantly on the lookout for more outstanding social innovation projects in Thailand. Please help us out and submit your own or your favorite solutions here

Read more

  • What are The Sustainable Development Goals?
  • UNDP and TSIP’s Principles Of Innovation
  • What are The Sustainable Development Goals?

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