On the 18th of June, Bora KAMWANYA, ACP YPN Parliamentary Relations Expert, co-chaired the 3rd ACP YPN Youth Conference with MEP Maria ARENA (EU) and MP Mohamed GOUMANEH (ACP), in collaboration with the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) Secretariat in St. Julian, Malta. Following the Forum, ACP YPN published the St. Julian’s Youth Forum_Declaration & Action Plan.
The 3rd ACP-EU JPA Youth Forum was a result of the work of the ACP YPN Steering Committee composed of 14 Youths from EU and ACP countries, meeting virtually every Wednesday for 7 weeks. The steering Committee chose the topics of the St. Julian Youth Conference following the recommendations of the Nairobi Declaration_from the 2nd ACP-EU JPA Youth Forum held in Nairobi, December 2016. Already at the 2nd ACP-EU JPA Youth Forum, education emerged as a key theme concerning both European and ACP youth. During the online steering committee, other key themes that were raised included agriculture, climate change and exchange programs.
Youth between the age of 17 and 35 years old from Malta joined the Conference and benefitted from this unique opportunity to exchange with ACP and EU parliamentarians and officials. The two co-chairs, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Marie ARENA for the European Parliament and Mr. Mohamed GOUMANEH (Djibouti) for the ACP opened the Youth Conference. This was followed by a speech by Bora, who in his introduction told the Members of the European Parliaments and the Members of ACP national Parliaments that it was time that Youth address and propose solution to problems they are facing or they will face. He added that there are urgent problems, which need to be addressed today: the issue of ACP Agriculture and Trade deficit; Climate Change and preparing young people to be engaged on these issues; and the lack of ACP-EU education cooperation.
During the Youth Forum, two main ideas came out. One, very pragmatic, on “How to better involve youth in the ACP-EU relations” and the other, more prospective, on youth engagement on the aforementioned themes. For the first, the Youth stressed the urgency of increased mobility of young people between EU and ACP Member States. During the Youth Conference, it was proposed, for example, that MEPs should offer 3 traineeships to young people from the ACP regions per year. If we consider 700 deputies in the EU parliament alone, this would represent no less than 2100 young people trained per year, and almost 10,000 in a single mandate of an MEP in particular. If this was extended to ACP MPs, the impact could be far-reaching. It was also proposed to involve young people from ACP countries in the European Forum of Young Parliamentarians. Another proposal included the inclusion of young refugees in Erasmus exchange programs.
All the recommendations were put together in the 3rd ACP-EU JPA Youth Forum_Declaration & Action Plan, also known as the St. Julian’s Declaration and Action Plan. Additionally, Bora made history in the ACP-EU JPA plenary session – through the support of many Parliamentarians – by being the first youth representative to ever take the floor during a plenary session to present the conclusion of the Youth Forum. Bora concluded by stressing the importance of the inclusion of young people in ACP-EU relations, reminding the JPA that the presence of the youth shows their commitment to democratic values, in line with Article 26 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement on ‘youth issues’ and SDG 16.7 on ensuring ‘responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels’.
By Bora Kamwanya
See the original invitation here.