ACP YPN leads 3rd ACP-EU JPA Youth Forum

Panel

On the 18th of June, Bora KAMWANYA, ACP YPN Parliamentary Relations Experts, co-chaired the 3rd ACP YPN Youth Conference with Mrs ARENA and Mr GOUMANEH in collaboration with the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) Secretariat in St. Julian, Malta.

The St. Julian Youth Conference was a result of the work of the ACP YPN Steering Committee composed of 14 Youths from 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. In fact, the themes chosen for the Youth Conference in Malta were the one affecting the Youth both in ACP and EU countries. Firstly, following up on the Youth Conference in Nairobi, Education has emerged as the theme that combines both the concerns of European and ACP youth. In view of the food shortages, global warming and the need for young people to exchange and communicate, we linked our sub-themes under the hat of education and thus addressed agriculture, climate 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 the Youth address and propose solution to problems they are facing or they will face. He followed up by stating that the problems, which need to be addressed today, are the issue of ACP Agriculture and Trade deficit, Climate Change and the preparation of youths to this issues, and the lack of ACP-EU education cooperation.

From the Youth Conference, two main ideas came out. One, very pragmatic on “How to better involve the young generation in the ACP-EU relations. The other one, more prospective on the themes we deemed deserve a particular attention.

For the first, the Youth stressed the call for increased mobility of young people between EU and ACP Member States. During the Youth Conference, it was proposed, for example, that MEPs should be able to welcome 3 young people from the ACP each year into their political teams. If we consider 700 deputies (Democrats) this would represent no less than 2100 young people trained per year, and therefore more than 10,000 on a mandate. It was also proposed to involve young people from ACP countries in the European Forum of Young Parliamentarians. Even more, to include young refugees in Erasmus exchange programs, which would have the double advantage of positive thinking for young refugees but also for those who welcome them.

All the recommendations were put together in the St. Julian Action plan and thanks to the support of many Parliamentarians, a youth, Bora, was able for the first time to present the conclusion of a conference to the JPA. These actions have been submitted to MEPs and the Steering Committee will assess its implementation in December 2017 and then the second and final assessment will be in June 2018; date at which the actions should be implemented. These dates match the meetings of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

Bora concluded by stressing the importance of the inclusion of young people in ACP-EU relations, reminding the Joint Parliamentary Assembly that the presence of the youth shows their commitment to democratic values.

By Bora Kamwanya

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