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The winners of the Regional Youth Peace Lab 2021 competition, held on Tuesday night, online, featuring 120 competitors from the Western Balkans, have been announced.

The competition teams participated in three segments - education, youth mobility, and peace and the legacy of the past. The goal was to create concrete public policy proposals for the challenges all citizens of the region are facing and to show how problems in these areas can be overcome. After 12 days of work with 20 mentors, we received many innovative solutions the participants wish to use to directly influence their future. During the two-day voting period for the best proposals, more than 5,600 votes were received. The entire competition took place on a custom-made virtual platform.

“UNFPA in Bosnia and Herzegovina is appreciative of the opportunity within the joint UN-RYCO project to create a space that builds on and harnesses the untapped potential of young people. Given the limiting circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, our mission was to create a virtual place where young people in the Western Balkans can receive mentoring, support and all they need they need to produce the best possible policy proposals, demonstrating that young people are always a part of the solution - if given chance”, said John Kennedy Mosoti, UNFPA Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Country Director for Serbia, Republic of North Macedonia and Director for Kosovo (UNSCR1244).

High achievers in the field of "Education - Quality and Education Reform in the Region to Better Respond to the Challenges of the 21st Century" were Arta Lulgjuraj, Azra Hodžić and Suhejra Azemi. The highest score in the area of ​​"Youth mobility - mobility of the youth in the region in terms of study, travel, work and learning" was awarded to the team consisting of Mersid Kajić, Nikola Ninković and Sabina Poplata. Finally, the best solution in the area "Peace and legacy of the past - the burden of trauma inherited by the post-conflict generations" was presented by Alida Bojadžić, Antigona Imeri, Anisa Fejzo, Diana Saliu, Haris Tutić and Loresa Statovci.

Rune Brandrup, a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) youth program expert, said at the award ceremony that young people have shown the passion, creativity and innovation needed to differentiate the Western Balkans region and face the past while at the same time facing the challenges of the 21st century.

"Young people in this region can achieve everything if they work together and join forces on topics that are important to them, and this competition has proven this concept right once again," said Vladica Jovanovic,  the Regional Office for Youth Cooperation (RYCO) Project Manager.

The teams were composed of young people from the Western Balkans, and through working with experts from different policy fields, university professors, former ministers, industry employees and young experts, they studied, collaborated, and jointly devised 18 solutions to the three challenges offered. They had the opportunity to present their solutions to the public through three-minute video presentations.

The most successful entrants competed for valuable prizes and a certificate of participation, as well as Amazon Kindle devices and gift vouchers from the $ 5,000 prize pool. All the policy proposals will be published in the WB6 Youth Policy Book and the Innovative Public Policy Development Guide.

In 2021, the Regional Youth Peace Lab (RYPL) was organized by the Regional Office for Youth Cooperation (RYCO), the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in cooperation with the Mozaik Foundation.