Project Steering Committee Meeting “Engaging young people from eastern Ukraine in the promotion of social cohesion, national unity, and a culture of dialogue”

February 7, 2022

Speech by Dafina Gercheva, UNDP Ukraine Resident Representative, at the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, 7 February 2022

Photo: UNDP Ukraine

Excellency Madam Vice Prime Minister, Distinguished representatives of the Government of Ukraine, dear colleagues,

The launch of the project “Engaging young people from eastern Ukraine in the promotion of social cohesion, national unity, and a culture of dialogue” is very timely and opportune. While the country is facing numerous and formidable challenges, consolidated efforts towards supporting peacebuilding initiatives are rapidly emerging.

The commitment of the government of Ukraine to foster a culture of dialogue and unity, and strengthen social cohesion is indeed commendable.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – both in Ukraine and globally is hitting hard on the fundamental of human development: health, education, and income, and is jeopardizing social cohesion. Structural inequalities at multiple levels have been thrown back into the spotlight. The trust of citizens in their governments and institutions is progressively eroding, and this is ever more evident when we focus our attention on the younger generations, who seem affected by a most worrying level of disengagement and mistrust in civic and political life.

But at the same time, young people, who seem so mistrustful and dissatisfied, have been the protagonists and engines behind some of the most impressive advocacy initiatives. They are calling loudly on governments to act now to bridge the gap between citizens and institutions, and they are holding their governments accountable for their role in building a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

I am happy to note that Ukraine’s leaders are listening to these calls. The Government of Ukraine has made a strong commitment to bridging the gaps between its citizens and the institutions, and those among various groups of citizens. Social cohesion, dialogue, and building a culture of unity have been more than just rhetoric and have found an evident and concrete example in the recent initiatives for strengthening the infrastructure for peacebuilding across Ukraine.

One of these welcome initiatives is the creation of the Ukrainian National Centre for Peacebuilding within the Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine. We are also delighted to note the integration of social cohesion as one of the key priorities under the Government of Ukraine’s “Youth 2025” State Social Programme, the objectives of which provide an excellent framework for the activities planned under the new project.

Creating the conditions for lasting peace, and enhancing social cohesion requires the collective and concerted efforts of all stakeholders – civil society and academia, international and national partners, the older and younger generations.

Such efforts must also remain focused on the commitments made under our common 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Global Goals, and as part of the Sustaining Peace Agenda. All these efforts should include the young women and men who are our tomorrow. We must recognize and capitalize on their role as a positive force in preventing and resolving conflict and building sustainable peace.

In closing, I would like to assure you that UNDP remains committed to further supporting the Government of Ukraine in taking forward its ambitious reform agenda, and building the conditions for a prosperous, sustainable future for the people of Ukraine.

Thank you.