HH&S Director Moderates Panel Discussion at UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris

Hollywood, Health & Society Director Sandra de Castro Buffington moderated a panel discussion titled “How Youth Drive Change” at the 7th annual UNESCO Youth Forum, held Oct. 17-20 at the organization’s headquarters in Paris.

Despite their critical roles in the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements, young people rarely see themselves reflected in TV and movie storylines as heroes, social activists and vital contributors to the shaping of a collective future.

“I encourage us all to consider the power of entertainment media to change the way youth are portrayed in television and film,” Buffington said in her opening remarks. The world needs to know about “the acts of leadership and courage that have come from young people who have demanded equality and justice while insisting on peaceful action.”

This year’s Youth Forum presented a lineup of speakers that included Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and an Academy Award-winning actor; anti-violence activist César López; and Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho. Also participating were 245 youth delegates from 193 member states who exchanged ideas on three major themes that underline the importance of democratic values: citizens in action—youth in political and public life; countering youth exclusion, vulnerability and violence; and breaking through employment barriers.

Forum participants will present their recommendations to representatives during the 36th UNESCO General Conference, which ends Nov. 11.