Young Creators across Southeast Asia partner with TikTok, the EU and UNDP to promote tolerance and diversity

August 29, 2022
group of young people

Creators Forward programme's launch event in Malaysia


Youth creators in Southeast Asia will participate in a creative training initiative announced today by the United Nations Development Programme and TikTok. Titled Creators Forward, the programme aims to use peer networks to reach, empower and educate young people in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines on an online culture of respect, kindness, tolerance, and equality.  

As part of the programme, online youth influencers from Southeast Asia aged 18 to 25 will undergo a six-week boot camp that offers training, mentorship, and tools to create engaging and positive narratives on their platforms. The workshops will be facilitated by experts from TikTok, UNDP, civil society organizations, and well-established creators from the region.  

Participants will use their strengthened digital skills and creative thinking to engage their community on diverse topics, including countering cyberbullying, celebrating cultural diversity, and advocating for global empathy. The training will support the participants in creating digital campaigns with positive social media messages that are expected to go viral and reach young people across the region. 

Over recent years, Southeast Asia has witnessed a surge of hate speech that goes beyond hurtful content with a tendency to result in physical violence and socio-religious disharmony.  Harmful content is a challenge that all social media platforms are facing, but at the same time, we have seen the power of social media in bringing the global community together to spread positive messages of tolerance and respect.  

With a track record of productive synergies between UNDP and tech giants, this programme will build on Creators for Change (2018 and 2020) and  United Creatives (2021) initiatives, where UNDP and partners successfully trained and built the capacity of talented young creators to produce digital content that challenges hateful messages in order to create a positive impact.  

This initiative is supported by the joint EU-UN action “Preventing Violent Extremism Through Promoting Tolerance and Respect for Diversity in Southeast Asia”, which aims to strengthen the ability of Southeast Asian countries to identify, respond to and prevent violent extremism. 

“In 2022, the European Year of Youth, the EU wants to highlight the vital role that young people play in building a better and more sustainable and peaceful future.  

The EU - UNDP partnership will contribute to efforts to promote peace and tolerance in online spaces, encouraging critical thinking, and disseminating alternative messages to harmful narratives. By working with young influencers, we are shifting the online landscape to a more inclusive and tolerant environment”, said Peter M. Wagner, Director / Head of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments of the European Union (FPI).  

“The Creators Forward programme is part of UNDP’s work to empower aspiring youth to counter the region’s struggles with growing online hate speech, misinformation, and division to promote inclusive and impactful messages. Through the partnership with TikTok we offer a platform for inspiring creators to advocate for peace, diversity, and empathy reaching out to millions of youths across Asia and the Pacific”, shared Jaco Cilliers, Regional Manager of Asia Pacific Policy and Programming at UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub. 

In line with UNDP’s global Preventing Violent Extremism programme, this initiative seeks to build the cultural resilience of communities to extremism, enhance civic voice and engagement, and directly challenge the spectrum of narratives – from fake news to hate speech to the propaganda of violent groups – by which extremism gains currency and begins to contest democratic authority and values.  

By working with young creators to shift the online landscape to a more positive environment, UNDP and the EU hope to increase knowledge and understanding between communities of different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and build the resilience of communities to intolerance and hate. Creators Forward initiative goes in line with the UN Secretary General’s Plan of Action on Hate Speech on its key commitments, including leveraging partnerships with the tech industry to take meaningful action against hate speech online. In addition, this initiative contributes toward the aims of SDG 16 to promote peaceful and inclusive societies and build effective and inclusive institutions at all levels. 

To learn more about this initiative, please visit UNDP Asia Pacific website, and Creators Forward website or follow us on Instagram, and Facebook. Use the hashtag  #CreatorsForward and join the movement for online peace.