South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined a group of fellow Nobel Peace Laureates in launching what has been described as the biggest global youth movement for positive activism and peace.

Known as the Global Call to Action, the campaign will enlist young people from all over the world to perform one billion acts of peace over 10 years, focusing on 10 issues that have been identified by the Nobel Laureates as the root of the world’s suffering. These include issues such as poverty, children and women’s rights, the environment, equal access to natural resources and violence. 

The campaign was launched at a conference in Los Angeles, USA, where thousands of young people from around the world were able to listen to words of wisdom and encouragement from inspiring Nobel winners.

Sharing a message of hope with the 3 000 young people gathered, Archbishop Tutu said, “Nobel Laureates don’t drop down from heaven. They are just ordinary human beings like you. I want you to know that sitting in this room are future Nobel Peace Laureates.”

Shirin Ebhadi, Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, reminded the youth of how interconnected we all are. “When I tell you the fate of the world is intertwined, this is what I mean: Something happens in Afghanistan and years later innocent people are killed in New York. This is why I say we shouldn’t be indifferent to what happens in the world.”

The conference allowed the young people in attendance to engage with the Nobel Laureates in developing their own community-based projects that could change the world. 

The work that was started at the GCA conference will continue globally through the GCA website, where young people are encouraged to develop, investigate and initiate acts of peace. 

Some of the youth projects that have already been developed include, bringing clean water to a village in India, educating youth in South Africa about HIV/AIDS, improving housing for families in Argentina and creating a “green” school in Denver, Colorado. 

Through the website, young people can either join existing groups or launch new projects and enlist volunteers online or through schools, community centres, clubs, churches and other local groups.

The campaign is the brainchild of Peace Jam founders Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Gifford Engle. Peace Jam was founded in Colorado, USA in 1996 with the aim of fostering a new generation of young leaders committed to positive change through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates.

Peace Jam says, it has mobilised 600,000 people over the past 12 years to develop more than 1 million service projects. Their GCA campaign is expected to magnify their work into a powerful global movement.