UNDP Belarus kicks off the UN75 Youth Dialogues by giving a voice on the future to the Polessie State University students
- The ancient town of Pinsk in the region of Belarusian Polesie was the first to host the UN75 national youth dialogues in the framework of the UN global information campaign "Towards the future we want," the launch of which was announced in Minsk in March 2020.
More than 100 students and tutors of the Polesie State University connected online to listen to experts and discuss development issues linked to local socio-economic development, adaptation to climate change, and the role of technology and innovations in coping with emergencies.
In each thematic block, the participants voiced current local problems and offered non-traditional solutions.
Measures to improve the regional economy included proposals to establish a business accelerator hub on the basis of the university to stimulate local small and medium business, encourage youth entrepreneurship, facilitate the development and piloting of new business ideas. For several years now, the university has been successfully operating an incubator of youth start-ups, which designed and accumulated many innovative business ideas.
The development of local tourism is another drive for the regional growth. It can be instrumental in the recovery of depressed areas, such as some regions affected by the Chernobyl disaster. The southern regions of Belarus are rich in nature attractions and are famous for their abundance of flora and fauna species. The creation of a tourism cluster in the Pripyat Polesie will help develop a network of ecological routes, which will also include the vast untouched nature territories of the Polesie State Radiological Reserve. For eco-routs to be sustainable, is it crucial to build a service infrastructure connecting them into holistic eco-system.
The impact of cimate change can already be visible in the southern regions of Belarus. Temperature increase, record low groundwater levels, frequent forest and peat fires. The climate dialogues focused on a number of groundbreaking pilots designed to help adapt land use practices, including re-introduction of degraded lands, to new climate challenges, and offered solutions for growing new types of agricultural products. The audience has shown a particular interest in a project on cultivation of table grape varieties, which opens good perspectives for the development of the Belarusian wine industry in region.
The emergencies block focused on the use of innovation and digital technologies to respond and prevent man-made, natural and health crises. Taking into consideration the past experience from the Chernobyl disaster and its consequences in Belarus and the ongoing situation with COVID-19, the participants stressed the necessity to change the approaches used today to respond to emergencies. The changes are needed in emergency procurement and preparedness and the functioning of enterprises. The emphasis should be done on the developing dual-use technologies. As an example, a project was presented on establishing a local production of ozonators - technology that could be effectively used to control the spread of viral diseases both at home and on an industrial scale. It is more cost-effective to forecast the emergency and be ready to deploy preventive measures than to respond to crisis from scratch. Keeping this in mind, the youth stepped forward with a proposal to establish an emergency information and analysis centre in Pinsk. The facility will be developing new approaches towards crisis forecasting and prevention. The participants made their voices loud on the importance of investing in innovation, building new partnerships and training of specialists, who can turn brilliant ideas into bright solutions.
The dialogue with Polesie University will be continued by working together on creating an investment platform for the development of the territories of Belarus affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
The UN75 youth dialogues with the participation of UN agencies will take place in May in all major universities of Belarus. The events are part of global campaign launched by UN to crowdsource ideas and solutions from young people to help shape a better world of tomorrow.