Oslo, Norway: Last week Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, joined distinguished guests such as the Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and the Norwegian Minister of International Development, in speaking at Fredskorpset’s Youth Leadership Conference in Oslo.

Speaking to a crowd of around 300 youth leaders, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government ministries, Richard spoke at length about the important role of youth as a priority area of focus for the United Nations in the Secretary-General’s Five-Year Action Agenda, and he outlined the ways that UNV is strengthening its youth focus through the new Youth Volunteers Programme. He informed the mostly young audience that the UN is ready and willing to meaningfully engage young people.

During his visit to Oslo, Richard also met with representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Norway, and also with Fredskorpset Director General Nita Kapoor. They exchanged best practices and discussed the strengths that each organization brings to its partnerships, and Nita shared some of the lessons that Fredskorpset has learnt during its long and preeminent history of youth exchange.

The participation in the Frekdorpset’s Youth Leadership Conference by NGOs and civil society groups, as well as the Norwegian Royal Family and the national government, shows a strong level of support for youth exchange and volunteerism.

By the end of the conference, after listening to the stories of inspirational youth leaders from the global south and north, and witnessing the powerful and compelling song, theatre and dance of the Young Peace Performers, a group of 15 young people from seven countries who mobilize youth though workshops and shows around the world, there was no doubt that the participants left feeling energized, inspired, and ready to tackle development and peace challenges through youth leadership.