Lourence Balatbat: The Activist Empowering Young People through the B3B Initiative

Lourence is one of the young activists taking up space in society and shaping the world they envision. Youth Time happily joins him, along with many other young activists from around the world that we have previously covered. 

Lourence Balatbat is a young activist doing good for his community while implementing the Beyond Three Billion (B3B) project, a youth-led, non-profit organization creating youth-inclusive systems of governance that guarantee youth representation in issues touching young people’s lives.

Recognizing the challenges young people face today, Balatbat wanted to work towards a world where people under 35 are proportionately represented and actively involved in decision-making processes across all levels of governance.

And as you will see through this piece, he is doing this successfully thanks to his amazing will to change things for the better, and the support gained by the Alumni Ventures Fund of the Miracle Corners of the World.

Balatbat believes that youth-led initiatives play a crucial role in building a better society, and he founded B3B, which is now working with communities in the Philippines, Benin, Nigeria, and Papua New Guinea to create more sustainable and inclusive platforms for young people’s political participation.

Increasing Youth Participation in Policymaking

B3B’s mission is to leverage research to address youth’s marginalization.

Towards achieving this mission, B3B has partnerships with four local government units in Cotonou, Mbaitolu, Pasig, and Kerema.

“With these collaborations, we work and create a bridge between young people and the policies being created by engaging local authorities and policymakers to consider the inputs submitted by our youth participants,” he says at the beginning of the exclusive interview for Youth Time.

Just over the past six months, B3B has organized different #B3BConversations to stimulate critical debates on youth-relevant social issues.

A virtual conference for the Nigerian youth participants is one among these conversations worth mentioning.

“In this interactive webinar, the panel of speakers included Zainab Haruna, Kunle Lawal, and Great Owete — all of whom are experienced young Nigerian professionals and governance enthusiasts who bring dynamic perspectives to inclusive policymaking,” he adds.

With around 100 attendees from various regions in Nigeria and some participants from other countries, the conversation advocates for a shift in the way ‘youth participation’ is perceived and practiced in Nigeria, Balatbat notes.

Lourence discussing with young people
Photo is courtesy of Lourence Balatbat/MCW Global

B3B Youth Corner

When speaking about B3B’s valuable contribution, we cannot leave out its role in improving policies relevant to young people in the community.

“For instance, the B3B team in Papua New Guinea joined 13 other youth-serving organizations for an initiative by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – PNG to put together a submission to the Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender-Based Violence of the Papua New Guinea National Parliament.”

The B3B youth corner is a platform that allows the local government to share information about relevant policies and programs being deliberated upon or have recently been implemented.

“This is achieved by creating a space for youth to openly access these public decisions, hence promoting greater transparency in local governance. Besides, the B3B makes it possible for the young people beneficiaries to access the information posted, share their comments and express their opinion through a poll, and suggest modifications.”

Nevertheless, this corner is also important because it is a place where young people can upload policy briefs or project proposals for the community government to read, consider, and/or adopt. Briefing us on this, Balatbat mentions the template that serves as a guide for young people who have no experience in drafting policy.

“For this [reason] documents are made available to ensure that any young person with a great idea driven by an actual need can be heard by their local leaders.”

Joyful Youth Create a Joyful World

Concluding our interview in a cheerful tone, he sends an uplifting message to all the young people.

“To every young person out there trying to make a difference, never doubt your abilities to make a dent in the world. Keep taking incremental steps towards your goal, surround yourself with those who share your vision, and always be reminded of why you started.”

Challenges and setbacks, Lourence believes, are part of the process and they are an indicator that you are on the right track.

“You are not too young, not too inexperienced, and not too naive for wanting to change the system — you are a visionary.”

While there is no secret recipe to being a changemaker, he has three friendly, underrated tips: rest, find a mentor, and have fun!

“Only joyful people can bring joy to the world.”

Feel free to reach out for coffee or chat with Lourence via:

Email and Linkedin.

Photos are courtesy of Lourence Balatbat/MCW Global.

 


Read another inspiring story here:

International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM: Interview with Anna Widegren


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