ACP YPN at the AU Youth Exchange Ideation Dialogue Forum, Gaborone

On 2-4th September 2018, Fon Brunstead, ACP YPN Expert, was selected as one of 55 young African leaders amongst thousands of applicants to attend the  African Union‘s (AU) Youth Exchange Ideation Dialogue Forum, an African – German (GIZ) Youth Initiative in Gaborone, Botswana. The Forum was based on a consultative and participatory framework whereby youth participants debated, reflected on solutions to build an action plan to address the challenges affecting youth exchanges and volunteerism on the African continent. The topics of the discussion panels were in line with Agenda 2063 – Africa’s strategic document for socio-economic transformation which upholds a vision for increased youth mobility, partnership and engagement. ACP-YPN activities are directly connected to these themes, thus its representation at the forum was essential.

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During a stakeholder mapping activity, the role of government and the importance to increase private sector partnerships was recognised as being effective for designing sustainable exchange programs. Within this session, Fon stimulated discussions by insisting on the importance of institutions in designing inclusive policies and creating a tolerant environment to nurture the culture of civic engagement. He referenced on Article 26 of the Cotonou Agreement and Articles 10 & 11 of the African Youth Charter to commend for increased youth inclusiveness in designing cooperation agreements and national policies; a cause which is central to the ACP YPN’s objectives. Notwithstanding the role of national institutions, strong emphasis were also laid on the relevance of strengthening partnerships between youth-led organisations and the private sector (companies, small and medium enterprises, trade unions and multinationals). Six key solution areas were developed by the youth participants:

  1. – Building partnerships to develop exchange programs and enhance potential outreach and impact;
  2. Including “People Differently Abled” (PDA’s) within exchange program networks
  3. Providing accessibility and increasing the participation of rural youths into exchange programs;
  4. Maximising program impact through host organisations’ pre and post deployment support for volunteers;
  5. Improving host organisations’ follow-up capacity of volunteers through effective Monitoring, evaluation and feedback systems;
  6. Enhancing young women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services during youth exchange programs. In addition, Fon stressed on the necessity to educate more men about women’s rights and on the advantages of information technology and digitalisation in sharing opportunities and information.

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In conclusion, the Forum demonstrated the importance of taking into consideration the aspirations of Africa’s youth and the collective efforts of every single stakeholder in the process of building an integrated and prosperous continent. It also marked a milestone in youth policy by putting youths at the forefront of decision making and increasing the possibilities for young people in both formal and informal sectors to have equal access to capacity building opportunities. However, the forum also revealed the need for increased partnerships and for the improvement of monitoring, evaluation and learning systems within exchange programs. In this regard, the ACP-YPN strengthens its commitment to increasing youth partnerships through the continuous fostering of youth exchanges and dialogues.

By Fon Brunstead – Get in touch with Fon on LinkedIn.

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ACP YPN at The Global Landscapes Forum, Nairobi

On 29-30 August 2018, ACP YPN Expert Caroline Kawira participated in The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Nairobi at the United Nations (UN) compound in Gigiri. Caroline was one of one thousand participants that were present in person and another 13,380 were tuned in online.Prior to GLF Nairobi, a youth conference was held which brought about 100 youth conservation leaders together for a 4 week online training which culminated in a 2 day training in Nairobi preceding the GLF from the 27-28th August 2018. (You can get to know these youth leaders!) The most important outcomes from the youth conference was the need to define restoration readiness and consequently, to build a framework for restoration readiness. The youth training focused on 3 values: integrity, innovation and partnership.

GLF Nairobi focused on prospects and opportunities for restoration in Africa, namely on the political and financial support and capacity-building using a full range of global, national, regional and local insights on policy and practice. The aims of GLF Nairobi were:

  1. Leveraging and deepening existing networks, particularly at the regional level.
  2. Demonstrating that food security and environmental degradation are not mutually exclusive by balancing the long and short terms concerns.
  3. Integrating the rights and resources of communities, vulnerable groups and smallholders into the vision of sustainable longer term.

Several institutions were present from Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research institutions (CGIAR), UN bodies, regional and international government representatives, international financial institutions, academia, private businesses, scholars, NGOs, conservation institutions and many more. Notably, there was a focus on community conservation during the forum with a high attendance of institutions and people who are engaging in community conservation.

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There was also a very high representation of institutions promoting restoration through the planting of trees. One eye-catching approach used by Vi Agroforestry allowed participants an opportunity to virtually plant a tree on a map of Africa and Vi Agroforestry promised to plant that tree in reality in one of their operation areas. Visitors to their stand planted 168 trees during the first day. Another impressive feature of the forum was a performance by Rocky Dawuni, a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Ghana. He was also designated as the Regional Goodwill Ambassador at the evening of celebrations during the close GLF Nairobi on Thursday, August 30, 2018. (Watch his performance here)

 

By Caroline Kawira – Get in touch with Caroline on LinkedIn 

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ACP YPN at UN HLPF 2018, New York

On 9-18 July, Arnaud Szanto, ACP YPN’s Partnership and Capacity Building Officer and Brent Robinson, ACP YPN Expert, participated in the 4th United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) High Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the UN Headquarters in New York. Arnaud represented the organization, which gained member status of the UN Major Group on Children and Youth (UN MGCY) earlier this year (see here). This year’s theme of #HLPF2018 : “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”.

 

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Brent Robinson, ACP YPN delegate (left) and Arnaud Szanto

H.E. Ms. Marie Chatardová, President of Economic and Social Council opened the #HLPF2018, which included 600 side events, 2500 registrations from NGOs, 80 ministers and vice ministers attending, 47 countries presenting their voluntary national review, and six SDGs being discussed (6,7, 11, 12, 15 and 17). H.E. Ms. Chatardová recalled the HLPF’s central role in promoting sustainable development at the international level and insisted on mobilizing our society through inclusive and democratic participation for the purpose of achieving the 2030 Agenda. ACP YPN has been promoting inclusive participation, under SDG16.7 in all of its activities, and was honoured to be represented for the first time at the HLPF.

Arnaud participated in a number of sessions at the HLPF, including 3 HLPF 2018 Thematic reviews -(i) Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies – Small Island Developing States perspective; (ii)  the Review on Perspective of Least Developing Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Middle-Income Countries (MICs); (iii) Review of SDG implementation: SDG 12 – Sustainable consumption and production patterns (SCP)6 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on implementing the SDGs – by (i) The Commonwealth of Bahamas; (ii) The Republic of Benin; (iii) The Republic of Cape Verde;  (iv) The Republic of Guinea; (v) Jamaica; (vi) The Republic of Namibia – as well as 5 side events by international partners on: (i) Vanishing Waters and Drying Lands: Impacts on Migration;  (ii) Implementing SDG 12: One Plan for One Planet; (iii) Monitoring SDGs, claiming rights and meaningful participation : Strategies and tools for civil society; (iv) Safe food for sustainable and resilient societies; (v) Better trade 4 SDGs.

Arnaud shared the work of ACP YPN, interacted with key stakeholders and also gave input to the development of UN MGCY positions at the HLPF2018. For example, Arnaud assisted in the preparation of the UN MGCY’sSDG 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainablestatement that was later presented to Member States at the UN ECOSOC. During this, Arnaud stressed the need to (i) strengthen the development of policies that would allow young people to be aware of their cultural heritage through cultural programmes that promote intercultural dialogue and (ii) to provide opportunities to young entrepreneurs to impact the local development of their regions and communities, across all relevant sectors (agriculture, industry, services, etc.) in order for them to contribute effectively to the development of resilient, safe and sustainable cities and communities.  Such policy initiatives can reinforce social bonds, and in turn, this would create value in the context of achieving the SDGs. This is also linked to facilitating the creation and maintenance of multi-stakeholders synergies (international institutions and civil society organization, businesses, universities and others) through enabling participation and partnerships. ACP YPN has been pioneering these synergies since its inception, in particular, in relation to partnership WITH youth (see p.7-9 here) and promoting the new ‘Public-Private-Academic-Partnership’ paradigm (PPAP, see here). As Arnaud put it, “achieving the Agenda 2030 is more than just words, it’s about making sure every child on the planet can still dream of a better future.  This can only be guaranteed if everyone is part of the process.”  

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    Arnaud Szanto and UN Secreatary General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake

In conclusion, this was a unique opportunity to make sure that the voice, opinions and examples of initiatives being implemented by ACP youth are represented at this high-level Forum. Moreover, given the importance of achieving the SDGs, it is important that all stakeholders are effectively contributing to achieve the SDGs. As Liu Zhenmin, Head of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, rightfully said: “we still have twelve more years to fulfill the transformative 2030 Agenda. These goals are within our reach, it will, however, require an unwavering attention, a laser-sharp focus on the implementation of these goals and a true sense of urgency.”

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UN Major Group on Children and Youth

What is the HLPF? The High Level Political Forum is an international platform for discussion on how everyone can contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Through collective ideas, solutions and innovations, members of government, youth-led organizations, civil society, academia and other international organization members explored ways to progress on the six SDGs  (6,7, 11, 12, 15 and 17) under review this year. In addition to this, 47 countries have presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) with the aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The VNRs also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Representatives included top universities, specialists, CEOs of companies, Major Groups, Members of government and NGOs also joined with the objective to share their knowledge, their stories and struggles, to discuss transformation and express their ideas on how to build sustainable and resilient societies while making sure no one is left behind. See more here.

 

By Arnaud Szanto – Get in touch with Arnaud on LinkedIn Twitter.

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ACP YPN on the Internationalisation of Local Governance, Paris

On 4th July 2018, Aïssatou Touré, ACP YPN Public Policy Advisor, was invited at the 9th edition of the Meeting for Internationalisation of local governments (Rencontres de l’internationalisation des collectivités territoriales) co-organised by Cités Unies France in Paris with several speakers including Frank Tiotsop, Youth Ambassador, OFAJ ( the International Organisation for Franco-German cooperation on youth), who presented the AKI tool for youth mobility.

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The event gathered French & foreign local governments as well as public and private partners under this year theme ” Faced with the challenges of a growing urbanisation, what’s the place of local governments  ? What’s our vision of a 2030 world? What’s our SDG approach ?“. During the Youth & Employability Panel, Aïssatou Touré demonstrated how projects integrating young people are a necessity in finding solutions for issues impacting them directly and indirectly through several points linked to her expertise with (1) ACP YPN and as an (2) African Union – European Union Youth Plug In Initiative (AU-EU YPII) fellow :

  1. Aïssatou introduced ACP YPN as a youth-led platform aiming at providing a platform for young people to play an active role in policy-making processes  assuring equality of opportunity in line with Article 26 of the legally binding Cotonou Partnership Agreement and aiming to ensure inclusive, responsive decision-making at all levels as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 16.7.

a. She then, focused on ACP YPN’s specificity in particular 1) the creation of the Youth Forums at the ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly allowing young people to exchange with more than 100 representatives of the ACP-EU partnership and 2) the fact that ACP YPN is the only youth network with a formal role as a member of the EU- Cariforum Consultative Committee monitoring the EU’s trade agreement with Caribbean region.

b. She concluded by sharing with the audience the important role of ACP YPN in providing her a space that contributed to the realisation of her personal and professional projects , allowing her to deepen her expertise in development cooperation and to learn new skills including soft skills that are being valued in the employment sector.

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 2. Aïssatou presented the AU- EU YPII as an innovative initiative that gathered in October 2017 during 5 weeks 36 young people from Africa, Europe and the Diaspora working together in 6 different cluster in 3 different cities (Addis Abeba, Brussels and Abidjan) to present specific projects in the Youth Agenda delivered to the Head of States during the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan. She mentioned 4 projects of  the Governance and political inclusion cluster:

a. CityShapers: working on city twinning from the United Cities and Local Governments, this project aims at integrating the youth in local governance and decentralised cooperation allowing co-creation, synergies strengthening between authorities, experts and young people from Africa and Europe while including joint learning on solutions to urban, social, ecological and governance challenges.

b. E-ncludeMe: this digital tool aspires to reinforce local government’s responsibility and accountability while reducing corruption, week governance, tax avoidance, illicit financial flows and including youth to identify and implement concrete action plans.

c. AU-EU Remittances Transfer Platform: this platform reduces transfer costs in remittances in line with SDG 10C via a Public Private Partnership (PPP). A share of the profit will be invested in youth related projects reinforcing inclusion and job creation.

d. Youth Lab: a permanent cooperation hub for AU-EU youth testing technical, urban and rural solutions on both continents while implementing and monitoring the projects developed in the 6 clusters of the AU-EU YPII Youth Agenda.

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In conclusion of this Youth & Employability Panel, Aïssatou recalled the necessity to include young people in finding solutions for issues that directly impacts them such as employability and she took in example two great initiatives (one in France, one in Senegal) working in this direction :

  • Les déterminés is an entrepreneurship organization training, supporting and mentoring young entrepreneurs including those from poorest and rural areas in the region of Paris allowing young people to contribute in job creation.
  • Voix des jeunes founded by Sobel Aziz Ngom, this project is a competition for young people fostering the creation of solutions to actual challenges. The selected young people have to debate on specific issues and deliver realistic solutions for those issues while stimulating their civic engagement and allowing them to develop analytic, argumentative and strategist skills among other skills.

These initiatives all highlight the fact that innovation in youth inclusion can be done in two ways:

  1. By creating permanent spaces, mechanisms for young people within existing institutions (JPA Youth Forum, CityShapers).
  2. Or by creating  new institutions/structures for young people to access spaces they couldn’t allowing them to share their expertise on diverse issues (E-NcludeMe, AU-EU Youth Lab, Les déterminés, Voix des jeunes).

 

By Aïssatou Touré – Get in touch with Aïssatou on LinkedIn Twitter.

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ACP YPN celebrates the 1st ACP Youth Day

On 26th June, ACP YPN celebrated the 1st African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Youth Day to commemorate the anniversary of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA), and the birth of Article 26 (CPA) on ‘youth affairs’ signed in Cotonou, Benin on 23rd June 2000. 37401881_1858397144456886_7393162291639746560_o(1)

ACP YPN proclaimed the 23rd June as the ACP Youth Day to highlight, celebrate and promote the role of young people of ACP origin in contributing actively to a more diverse, gender-equal, environmentally-friendly, sustainable world. During this celebration, ACP YPN honoured those who have supported ACP YPN’s activities – as a youth-led platform aiming at providing a permanent space for young people to play an active role in decision-making processes (SDG16.7) – and those who inspire and support young people of ACP origin in accomplishing their projects, in line with the ambitions of Article 26 CPA.

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For the first edition of ACP Youth Day, ACP YPN presented 7 awardees with the Certificate for Youth Empowerment:

  1. Isolina Boto, Manager of the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Brussels office, for her dedication to the EU-ACP partnership and for actively promoting and supporting the expertise of ACP young experts, women and civil society in the field of agriculture.
  2. Guy Stinglhamber, Delegate General of the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP), for his role pioneering inclusive partnerships with ACP YPN, capacity building support and finance to ACP YPN’s missions.
  3. Brenda King MBE, Member of the European Economic & Social Committee (EESC) and Founder and Director of African-Caribbean Diversity (AC Diversity), for her role mentoring ACP YPN leadership, and supporting ACP YPN’s work on youth and trade at the EESC.
  4. Marie- Chantal Uwitonze, Founder and President of the African Diaspora Network-Europe (ADNE),being a role model in the diaspora-development nexus through her work promoting the role of diaspora in international dialogues.
  5. Irene Hvass, Policy officer at the European External Action Service (EEAS), for her actions and support on youth issues, particularly related to the 4th EU-Africa Youth Summit & the AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative.
  6. Rok Kozelj, Administrator in the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) unit of the European Parliament (EP), for his commitment to integrating youth in the JPA and supporting ACP YPN to launch and co-organise the JPA Youth Forums.
  7. Celine Fabrequette, for her contribution in developing and expanding the activities of ACP YPN, in particular for her role as organiser of the ACP YPN’s first delegation to the European Youth Event & ACP YPN’s co-organisation of the 4th EU-Africa Youth Summit.

ACP Youth Day shall continue to be held annually on 23rd June. To see more photos from the event, have a look at our Facebook page here. And, for advice on how to celebrate ACP Youth day where you are, get in touch with us!

By Aïssatou Touré – Get in touch with Aïssatou on LinkedIn Twitter.

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ACP YPN at the European Development Days (EDD) 2018

On the 5th and 6th June 2018, for the third time, African Caribbean Pacific Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN) sent a delegation of 14 ACP YPN Youth Ambassadors to the twelfth edition of the European Development Days (EDD), the biggest European development forum gathering the development community together.

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As a lead youth organization in the ACP- EU partnership, ACP YPN had a precious spot at the Youth Lounge in the European Village along with One Young World, Young Mediterranean Voices, Alliance of Youth Empowerment, EDD Young Leaders and Faces2Hearts.

The Youth Lounge aimed at providing a meeting place for young people to network and connect between themselves but also to engage with EDD participants and organizations. High profile visitors came to the Youth Lounge such as Queen Matilde of Belgium, Queen Letizia of Spain, Commissioner Neven Mimica of the Directorate-General for international cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), Jayathma Wickramanayake UN Envoy on Youth,  Artist and Business leader Youssou N’dour and and Dr Denis Mukwege, Congolese gynaecologist and world leading expert on internal physical damage  caused by gang-rape.

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ACP YPN participated and organized several activities during the two-day event at the Youth Lounge including engaging with EDD participants on youth issues and launching a survey on ACP Women in Trade :

1. On Tuesday the 5th, Aïssatou Touré, ACP YPN Public Policy Advisor presented the role, missions, and activities of ACP YPN in line with article 26 of the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement and Sustainable Development Goal 16.7 ensuring decision-making at all levels during the « Pitch Your Organization » activity organized by One Young World.

2. With One Young World, ACP YPN co-organized a Networking Drinks Event to meet worldwide fellow young leaders to learn more about other youth-led organizations and activities.

3. On Wednesday the 6th, ACP YPN organized the « Dance for Emporwerment » workshop starring Sarah Amaro from Kizomba Love, that aimed at bringing together EDD participants in full contact with their role as actors of their destiny through dance. They were able to engage through movement on the topics of the vital role of women and the need for their full and equal participation and leadership in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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The ACP YPN delegation for the 2018 EDD edition included:

  1. Yentyl Williams, Founder and Director of ACP YPN
  2. Aïssatou Touré, ACP YPN Public Policy Advisor
  3. Adelaide Hirwe, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  4. Kelly- Ann Fonderson, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  5. Akosua Osei-Loué (HRH), ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  6. André Gbedan, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  7. Ariane Takyi, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  8. Cwanche Bleneau Cedric Bieleu, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  9. Fatiau Teikausi, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  10. Gilberto Morishaw  , ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  11. Marianne Nguenna, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  12. Pearce Robinson, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  13. Sarah Gane, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador
  14. Stefan Haenen, ACP YPN Youth Ambassador

 

By Aïssatou Touré – Get in touch with Aïssatou on LinkedIn Twitter.

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ACP YPN & Cooperatives Europe on Trade & Youth at EDD2018

On 6th June, the second day of the European Development Days 2018 (#EDD2018), ACP YPN partnered with Cooperatives Europe for their Brainstorming session on ‘Youth as key actors of change.’ The Session convened to discuss (1) Why youth matter & why to engage them in social and political decision making? and (2) The role of Youth and Trade. Yentyl Williams, Director, ACP YPN led the Roundtable and assistance was given by Kelly-Ann Fonderson, Expert, ACP YPN.

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The first ten minutes were dedicated to discussing the challenges, opportunities and actions to take on the first issue – (1) engaging youth in social and political decision-making. While numerous challenges were outlined, the two key opportunities that were highlighted: (i) The opportunity to create spaces e.g. trainings and (ii) the opportunity to foster structural transformation with youth playing a key role.

The second part of the discussion focused on (2) the role of youth and trade and the team discussed the issue over half an hour by focusing on 5 key points from which 5 main take-away points were drawn:

 (i) Various indicators of societal well-being should be used in a complimentary way to have a holistic overview of society.

For example, combining GDP with Taiwan’s definition of GNP as Green, Nature and People, as well as Bhutan’s Happiness Index.

(ii) Creating new inclusive spaces for young people to play an active role in decision-making is more relevant than creating new spaces.

For example, the emphasis should be places on inter-generational dialogue and this would avoid operating in silos – which is an inherent risk when new institutions are created, as opposed to new spaces in existing institutions – and foster more synergies in the process of youth mainstreaming.

(iii) No consensus was reached on Youth-friendly laws in our group.

There was justified concern that youth-friendly laws in relation to trade could merely replicate structural imbalances with youth who have the most economic power benefiting from such laws.

(iv) Knowledge exchange should be prioritised over knowledge transfer to foster inclusive and holistic policy and decision making on the premise that ‘shared knowledge is shared powered’, in line with SDG16.7 on fostering inclusive and responsive decision-making.

(v) Development aid should end and we should work on phasing it out and moving towards new inclusive models of exchange.

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The results of all four tables – facilitated by Sergi Corbalan, Fairtrade Advocacy Europe, Anis Saada, Indonesian Youth Cooperatives, Khouloud Mannai,  Trade Union Tunisia – shall be compiled in a forthcoming report. You can have a look at all the photos of the Brainstorming session here. #EDD2018 #SheEDDs #SheisWe #ACPYouthTalk

Do you have questions? Contact Yentyl Williams & Kelly-Ann Fonderson.

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ACP YPN lead on Trade at EYE2018, European Parliament

On the 2nd of June, the second day of the European Youth Event (EYE), ACP YPN lead its workshop on “Trade Agreements: Is your Deal my Deal?” at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The objective of ACP YPN was to strengthen the capacity of EU and ACP youth to contribute to the ACP-EU partnership. In particular, the ACP YPN Delegation to EYE2018 had two specific aims: to (i) engage with EU and ACP youth on the topic of trade and post-Cotonou relations; and to (ii) share opportunities for youth to boost their skills and ability to contribute to policy-making, while strengthening ACP YPN’s international database of youth experts. See the background note here.

The format of the workshop was the world cafe model, whereby participants discussed the thematic issues in 6 groups of 5 people facilitated by Experts in the ACP YPN team. Participants had an hour and a half to draw up 3 recommendations on 6 themes based on the thematic areas of European Commission’s recommendation to the Council on ACP-EU trade and  Post Cotonou relations:

  • Title I: Human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy , rule of law and good governance
  • Title II: Inclusive sustainable economic development
  • Title III: Environment and climate change
  • Title IV: Peace, security and justice
  • Title V: Migration and mobility
  • Title VI: Human development and dignity

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Finally, this Document of Recommendations outlines the main points discussed by the youth participants during the workshop. #EYE2018 #ACPYouthTalk

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ACP YPN at European Youth Forum COMEM

On 27-28 April, ACP YPN was invited as a guest organisation to attend the European Youth Forum’s Council of Members (COMEM) in Brussels. Arnaud Szanto, ACP YPN Expert represented the Network to more than 100 youth organisations (National Youth Councils and International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations) and engaged with them on the following topics: future of youth rights, social and economic inclusion, democratic participation and sustainable development in the European Union.

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Photo: Arnaud Szanto (ACP YPN), Luis Alvarado Martinez (EYF) and Christopher Fürst (JCI)

Luis Alvarado Martinez (President, EYF) delivered a speech on the “State of Youth in Europe” in which he presented the progress made in the struggle for social justice through the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR). He also discussed populism as a threat to the next EU election, youth unemployment and migration among other pressing issues. He emphasized the prominence for youth organisations to support the “Erasmus+ x10” campaign which advocates for an increase of the programme’s budget by 10 for the new multiannual financial framework (MFF) post-2020. ACP YPN is fully supporting this “Erasmus+ x10” campaign as we believe having an ambitious Erasmus + programme goes hand in hand with bringing together youth groups coming from various backgrounds. In this way, we reaffirm our commitment to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all as part of the Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Arnaud participated in a workshop organised by ATD Fourth World Movement“Do you want to know about stories of change?” and raised 5 key recommendations on the subject of inequalities in accessing quality education:

1. Promote a holistic approach to address systemic issues that marginalised groups are facing in getting access to quality education.
2. Enhance non-educational programs aiming at empowering young people to help them create new narratives that go beyond the structural problems they are facing.
3. Strengthen ongoing advocacy efforts for more inclusive and comprehensive education policies at the national and international level
4. Support education systems and curricula to foster self-awareness and tolerance while promoting equality of opportunities, which values diversity (ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and religious) and cultural heritages in order to combat social ostracisation.
5. Bridge communication gaps between groups to prevent marginalized youth – especially those in a situation of ‘learned helplessness’ – from not having access to quality education in order to unlock young people’s future opportunities.

Arnaud has also met with Anna Widegren (Secretary General, EYF) to talk about the challenges facing small organisations such as access to funding and the underrepresentation of youth coming from the diaspora in relevant debate at the EU level. He expressed that he was truly inspired by the stories of young leaders advocating for policy change and stated :

“I am feeling optimistic about the future of our Youth. I’ve had the chance to talk with leaders that are fighting ruthlessly to make sure no one is left behind. As long as we keep working together, I have not an ounce of doubt in my mind, that we can make Europe’s future, brighter for young people regardless of their race, age, sexual orientation, religion or disability.”

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Photo: COMEM group picture for Erasmus+ x10 Campaign, 2018

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ACP YPN at YABS Network Conference 2018

On 21 April, Aïssatou Touré, ACP YPN Public Policy Advisor took part as a keynote speaker in “Hunger for Success Conference 2018” organised by the YABS Network as its 3rd Annual Conference.

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It is under this year’s theme “Challenging the notion of Success in the African Community- What is Success? What is Failure?” that the YABS Network reunited several speakers including H.E. Mrs. Novisi Abaidoo, Ambassador of Ghana in Belgium; Annelies Decat from Unia; Krystel Sil Sikana, founder & CEO of HiSHi;  Cynthia Mukendy, social entrepreneur; Nadia Aime, Digital Mompreneur.

Aïssatou began by welcoming the initiative of such event aiming at connecting and empowering the African Diaspora Youth and congratulated the previous speakers for encouraging the audience to act for what they believe in despite all the obstacles.

She explained how a youth-led platform such as ACP YPN –  aiming at playing an active role in policy-making processes and ensuring that all young professionals can become active and capable world-changing citizens – helped her become more successful in achieving her professional and personal projects. Indeed, she exemplified how ACP YPN trusted her expertise and gave her two great opportunities :

  1. She was involved in high – level political dialogue including the Africa – EU Civil Society Forum that took place in July 2017 in Tunis. She noted that youth organisations were under-represented – only 5 out of 80 civil society representatives were youth delegates – although the main theme of the Forum was on ‘youth’ . For Aïssatou, this experience emphasized the great need to include youth perspectives in policy dialogue.
  2. In October 2017, she was one of 36 youth chosen across the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) to represent youth in the first ever AU-EU Youth PlugIn Initiave.  Over 5 weeks, they were tasked with developing a framework for youth policy on 6 different topics, which led to the publication of the Youth Agenda that was delivered to the Heads of States at the 5th African Union- European Union Summit.

These wonderful experiences allowed her to develop new skills such as policy writing, public speaking while confronting her to development cooperation’s main challenges. Most of all, such opportunities help create spaces for new ideas and projects which are essential to integrate African youth perspectives into the future development endeavours on the African continent.

Aïssatou concluded her speech with these words:

“Young people have so much potential, especially those from Africa and the diaspora. If opportunities are not there, let’s create our own and make our voices heard”.

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By Aïssatou Touré – Get in touch with Aïssatou on LinkedIn Twitter.

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