ACP-YPN at the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

“In this new era, the best investment is investment in youths” – Mrs. Rosemary Mbazizi, Minister of Youth of the Republic of Rwanda.

On November 3-6, 2018, Fon Brunstead – ACP YPN’s Policy Expert, attended the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh – Egypt, one of the world’s greatest youth events uniting 5000 young leaders across the world.

The World Youth Forum provided an opportunity to further the discourse on youth inclusiveness in contributing to world peace and prosperity; a subject matter which is pertinent to the objectives of the ACP-YPN. The underlying element of the event pertained to the idea that if inclusive policies are in place, the capacity of young people will be enhanced, leading to an acceleration in development. Panels and discussions were thus essentially centered on strategies for harnessing youth power in spurring economic development and fostering peaceful and tolerant societies.

On the peace agenda, the importance of a comprehensive and sectorial approach was recognized. While the comprehensive approach highlighted the need for a multiple stakeholders’ engagement (government, civil society and media), the sectorial approach sustains the idea that peace needs to be addressed with consideration to specific continental, regional, national and local dynamics. It was agreed that dialogue, participation and empathy remain very important variables in the fight against discrimination and violent extremism; however, they need to be deliberately formulated and integrated into policy frameworks. In this regard, national governments were encouraged to sustain peace building efforts through policies that enable political participation and promote parleys with reference to the Rwandan example of a successful post-genocide reconstruction. The role of women and youths was particularly considered; stressing the importance for them to feel a sense of belonging in peace processes and to participate in peace education and inclusive activities such as sports. In the words of Mrs. Rosemary Mbazizi, “there can be no peace in the world without the inclusive participation of the world”

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Inequality regarding gender and opportunities was considered as a major challenge in addressing the poverty conundrum. The need to narrow the gender gap in the labor market was raised. It was argued that entrepreneurship and technology offer a leeway for women’s empowerment because it enables them set their own pace and time. Notwithstanding, the main obstacle for women remains the lack of a financial ecosystem with a mechanism for monitoring micro-finance interventions and accompanying women in investments. A “woman to self” gender gap in technology was also identified. Evidence suggested that most women, especially in rural settings, think technology is difficult and considered it as a “boy toy” or a ‘thing’ for men, thus limiting the innovative and market capacities of their businesses. Recommendations addressed the need for women to tap into their inner abilities and bolster their self-esteem, while training programs should tally with women’s needs.

A particularly interesting session was titled: “Agenda 2063: the Africa we want”.  During this session, importance was placed on the role of youths and women in the accomplishment of Agenda 2063 – Africa’s strategic framework for socio-economic development. Volunteerism and networking among young people were highlighted as important channels for stimulating exchanges and building capacities, to emphasize on what was discussed during the AU – GIZ Consultative Youth Ideation Meeting held in Gaborone-Botswana in September 2018. In the domain of economic growth, evidence revealed that Africa lacked sufficient investment groups and platforms for crowdfunding.  Relevance was also attributed to migrant remittances going to Africa and to the need to create systemic mechanisms in managing and coordinating these revenues. It was assessed that significant successes had been recorded towards achieving African integration. Yet, prospects for an African free trade area remain challenged.

In summary, the World Youth Forum 18’ marks evidence to the fact that addressing the world’s urgent challenges is ultimately dependent on collective action. The forum revealed the power, potentials and responsibilities bestowed on young people to think, act, and lead. It falls in line with the role of the ACP YPN in stimulating discussions and exchanges among young professionals and in advocating for inclusive decision-making. Indeed, in this new era, the best investment is investment in youths.

By Fon Brunstead – Get in touch with Rhody-Ann via LinkedIn and YouTube

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ACP YPN expert, Rhody-Ann THORPE, presents her paper on “Educational Developments in the English-Speaking Caribbean in a post-colonial context” at the Université du Littoral Cote d’Opale

On 19th November 2018, ACP YPN expert Rhody-Ann THORPE presented her paper on “Educational Developments in the English-Speaking Caribbean in a post colonial context” at the Université du Littoral Cote d’Opale in France, during the university’s annual research conference. The conference was entitled “Education and learning in English-Speaking and French-Speaking Countries: heritage, context and representations and also welcomed scholars from France, the UK, French Guyana; Rhody-Ann was the only Caribbean representative on the panel.

Rhody-Ann’s paper looked at how the Caribbean region constitutes a multidimensional space which is characterized by cultural, political and socio-economical diversity; as well as a shared colonial heritage. In particular, it expounded on how policy in the domain of Education was first pursued during the colonial era and the impact that it had on access, curriculum and teacher training. It also examined how these countries, which are mainly classed as developing countries, have adapted to the post colonial context which is also characterised by regionalism and how this has in turn impacted on education systems on all levels.

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This paper comes at a crucial time when discourses related to reparations by foreign universities are multiplying; including the University of Glasgow which has started investigations with regards to its potential role in slavery. Furthermore, the colonial heritage in the Caribbean space is still quite topical as several days prior to the presentation, the countries of Antigua&Barbuda and Grenada organised a referendum to replace the British judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice. As Education occupies a preponderant place in public and budget policies led by Caribbean states, looking at educational developments with a post colonial lens is therefore quite relevant. In fact, the focus of Rhody-Ann’s PhD study is on the British influence on higher education policy in the English-Speaking Caribbean and in Ireland.

By Rhody-Ann THORPE – Get in touch with Rhody-Ann THORPE via Linkedin

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ACP YPN Experts, Adélaïde Hirwe and Kelly-Ann Fonderson at S&D Africa Week 2018

On 5-9 November 2018, ACP YPN Experts Adélaïde  Hirwe and Kelly-Ann Fonderson attended S&D 3rd annual Africa Week at the European Parliament in Brussels to represent the African youth diaspora. They and 20 other youth representatives from Africa and Europe published a Youth Declaration which has now been submitted to leaders in the European Union and African Union.

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Kelly-Ann Fonderson presenting on strong institutions
A Hirwe presenting on young contributions in their communities and SDG
Adélaïde Hirwe presenting on youth contribution to their communities

Kelly-Ann Fonderson facilitated the third session on strong institutions for reducing inequality, promoting decent and sustainable growth for a lasting peace and security. She argued that the inclusion of youth is quintessential to promoting sustainable growth and lasting peace especially in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa where youth represent the largest proportion of the population. She raised the need for youth forums where young people can influence policy and develop leadership skills. She emphasized the need for transparency in institutions to foster greater accountability to the people they are intended to serve. Finally, Kelly-Ann Fonderson called for a revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement ending in 2020 with regards to the economic pillar. She highlighted the need to enhance effective participation from relevant non-state actors especially at the regional level.

Adélaïde  Hirwe facilitated the fourth session on the first day of Africa week. She introduced the debate on the role of young people in their community for economic and social development leading to a sustainable future. She argued with reference to some examples that youth already contribute to the economic and social development in their communities. She highlighted the role digitalisation plays in enabling youth to better contribute to SDGs however acknowledged access to digital tools as a challenge many still face. Adélaïde Hirwe emphasized the need for policies to be tailored to local realities, in particular those aimed at young entrepreneurs who so often contribute to their communities through informal businesses.  She noted that ACP YPN encourages institutions to have further cooperation with youth organisations and multistakeholder synergy.

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On the second day of Africa week, Adélaïde  and Kelly Ann joined the youth leaders to draw the message of the youth. Kelly-Ann worked with a subgroup on strong institutions, sustainable growth and good governance. Adélaïde worked on education, skills development, digitalisation and entrepreneurship. The recommendations were focused on the need to adapt the economic, financial and educational systems to the needs of young local entrepreneurs who are often from the informal sector and emphasised the importance of giving young people access to new technology with appropriate solutions to the energy problem.

Some of the recommendations they helped draw were:

  • School programs need to be reformed to fit the realities and demands of the country as well as national and international contexts.
  • A financing system adapted to the realities of the field is required so that young people can build their business.

In conclusion, the youth believe that the future relationship between Africa and the EU should be one based on partnership and collaboration.

 

By Adélaïde Hirwe and Kelly-Ann Fonderson – Get in touch with Adélaïde via Linkedin  and Kelly-Ann via Linkedin

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ACP YPN AT AFRICITIES 2018

From November 21 to November 24, 2018, Aïssatou Touré ACP YPN Public Policy Officer was invited in Marrakesh to Africities 8th edition, the biggest democratic gathering in Africa, organized by Unites Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA). During 4 days, this major event occurring every three years gathered more than 7000 participants including local and regional authorities, governments, civil society organizations, financial institutions and private sector.

Cités Unies France and Platforma co-organized the session “Decentralized cooperation, an effective tool for youth empowerment ” in which Aïssatou intervened as a speaker alongside Frédéric Vallier, General Secretary of Platforma ; Jean-Marie Tétart, Mayor of Houdan (France), president of Yvelines International Cooperation and Development; Patrice Ayivi, Mayor of Aného (Togo) ; Zakia Mrini, President of the Moroccan Institute of Local Development; and Roger Mahazoasy, Director of the Decentralized Cooperation of the MID (Madagascar).

With a population of over 200 million young people between the age of 15-26 years old in Africa, there is an urgent need to implement policies focusing on young people in order to benefit from the demographic dividend of this young population. In this context, three points were developed by Aïssatou on ways local authorities can improve employment and employability for young people: (1) Identify the needs of young people and adopt policies in line with those needs; (2) Partnering with different stakeholders ; and (3) Support young people’s entrepreneurship initiatives.

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First,  decentralized cooperation is essential in allowing local authorities to adopt consistent policies in line with the needs of the beneficiaries of their policies, in this case young people. Identifying the needs of young people is indeed the first step before adopting any policies targeting them and this can be done by creating permanent structures for young people to express themselves and help the local authorities prioritize the areas of cooperation. As an example Madagascar founded a local youth council to allow the youths to enter in dialogue with policy-makers and orientate policies. Another example is the municipality of Aného (Togo) who carried out a survey among the young people to determine the field of study that interested them if a technical school were to be created. The creation of the school was a success as it was in line with the needs of the youth.

Second, local authorities can partner and support Civil Society Organizations, private sector and develop through city-to-city cooperation programs contributing in Youth Development and Youth Leadership. This will allow young people to gain skills outside the classic school curricula and help them attain their full potential. The gained social, ethical, physical, cognitive skills can support them to define their personal and professional goals, widen their horizon but also gain self-esteem, empower themselves and others. Concretely this can be done through the development of volunteering programs, through city-to-city cooperation, but also inside the municipality to allow young people to get to know more about the work their municipality is doing and gain skills as well as experience.

Third, support youth entrepreneurship initiatives is a key step to enhance youth empowerment as it will allow them to test local innovative solutions, create jobs for themselves and others but also help them develop socially and economically their community. As an example, Les Déterminés is a youth-led company providing training and coaching for young entrepreneurs including those coming from rural and poor areas of the Paris region. The trained young entrepreneurs go back in their own communities to create jobs and improve the living conditions of the local population.

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In conclusion, efficient, sustainable employment policies for young people can only be implemented if:

  1. Inclusive public policies identifying the needs of the beneficiaries of those policies and including the youth in this process are put in place;
  2. Partnerships with relevant stakeholders supporting and implementing youth development initiatives are created;
  3. Ownership and support is given to youth initiatives.

 

By ACP YPN

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Check out Platforma’s article on the session : Africitiés 2018, city-to-city cooperation to empower young people.

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ACP YPN & ADYFE join forces at EU consultation on 2nd Joint Valletta Action Plan

On 25 October 2018, Aliyyah Ahad, ACP YPN Migration Expert together with Celine Fabrequette, African Youth Forum in Europe (ADYFE) Head Project Manager, participated in a civil society organisation, youth and diaspora consultation on the 2nd Joint Valletta Action Plan, ahead of the next Senior Officials Meeting  in Addis Ababa. The European External Action Service (EEAS) hosted the event, with representatives from the African Union (AU), including representatives from the Khartoum Process, and Embassy of Ethiopia, among others.

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ACP YPN and ADYFE presented joint recommendations for consideration, including:

  1. Continue to develop better qualifications recognition for third country nationals in the EU, including assessments of credentials and skills
  2. Develop more legal channels of migration, particularly for students, entrepreneurs and young workers through the Erasmus+
  3. Mainstream diaspora youth-led organisations into decision making
  4. Support inter-regional migration schemes within Africa, including the African Union’s Agenda 2063
  5. Ensure that EU funding is used ethically and that criteria for the awarding of contracts includes hiring local workers at all levels—this would highlight expertise and added value already within Africa.
  6. Create strategic communications campaigns that can shift the dialogue on migration away from a binary view of good or bad.
  7. Address non-economic root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement by supporting peacekeeping, and tackling the sale of illegal armaments.
  8. While working towards the reduction of remittance costs, develop a secure system where diaspora can directly inject funds into development projects, such as diaspora bonds.

ACP YPN and ADYFE applaud the EEAS for acknowledging the important role that diaspora youth should play in the 2nd Joint Valletta Action Plan, and endeavour to continue to contribute further to the successful completion of this process.

By Aliyyah Ahad – Get in touch via Linkedin

& Celine Fabrequette – Get in touch via Linkedin

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ACP YPN Migration Expert at the European Parliament, Brussels

On 18 October 2018, Aliyyah Ahad, ACP YPN migration expert, was part of a panel organised by Housing Europe on ‘Successful Inclusion of migrants and refugees in European Cities: How local players are making it happen and what support is needed from EU level’ at the European Parliament, Brussels. The host of the event was MEP Brando Benifei, rapporteur of the EP report, Refugees: social inclusion and integration into the labour market. Access the link to the event here.

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Some of the main ideas Aliyyah presented include:

  1. There is a need to think differently about migrant integration. It is not a simple two-way process but rather a dynamic whole-of-society change in which everyone must grow. Including community members in the decisions that will affect them, and giving migrants and refugees the agency to contribute towards and shape their new communities is essential.
  2. The challenges posed by the shortage of affordable housing are not new, but they were exacerbated by the migration crisis. With this additional pressure also came new energy and platforms for promising social innovations. More work is needed to distill the essential ingredients for success so that these best practices can be replicated and scaled elsewhere.
  3. More than ever, citizens are carefully scrutinising the economic and social outcomes of newcomers. As more funding under the EU’s proposed Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) is dedicated towards local actors and social cohesion, it is crucial to establish clear and measurable benchmarks of success to justify the increased spending and to communicate more effectively with the public.  

In conclusion, migration has put a new spin on longstanding societal challenges in Europe, such as shortages of affordable and desirable housing and feelings of social isolation and loneliness. But the added pressure and attention is also shining a light on promising practices and energising communities to tackle these issues in a way that benefits everyone.

By Aliyyah Ahad – Get in touch via Linkedin

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ACP YPN on ‘Youth in Institutions’ for Black History Month EU

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On 16th October, in celebration of Black History Month EU, ACP Young Professionals held their second event of the month at IHE Brussels on ‘Youth In Institutions’. The event featured a 4-person panel and discussion on the current state of ACP youth in European institutions, how these young professionals found their way into their institutions, and how to improve the conditions. The panel featured, Nicole Kalitsi, an university student from the U.S. who is currently interning at the European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC). Nicole has previously interned with other Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA) and with an U.S. Congressman. Nicole’s long term goal is to work for the US State Department. The second panelist, Sarah Gane, is a recent college graduate who now is President of Quartiers du Monde after previously interning with ENAR. Celine Fabrequette from ADYFE was the next panelist, she has a wealth of experience, including working as ACP Young Professionals’ Secretary General! Our final panelist, Diana Cocoru has been a consultant for multiple European Institutions and has numerous degrees specializing in everything from business to diplomacy!

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After their introductions, moderator and intern for ACP YPN, Tais Idi-Infante asked the panel three thought-provoking questions that began a great debate and also involved the engaged audience. The three questions were:

  1. What challenges do you think ACP youth face at your job? Have you faced any of these challenges? How have you worked to overcome them? Do any persist?;
  2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years and how will your current employment at an institution help you get there?;
  3. What opportunities have you been privy to because of your position at an institution? Do you see any opportunities for other ACP youth? If not, how do you believe your institution could create these opportunities?

The debate that developed from these questions highlighted how education can have an impact on the future job opportunities for youth. This point raised a counter-debate on how education differs in the United States from Europe. One of the agreed upon points from our panelists is that when an opportunity is not there for ACP Youth, it’s important to make one. Often as youth and people of color, our voices are silenced and our opinions devalued so it’s important to find or create, and then maintain a space that you will be heard and respected. Celine spoke of this the most and how she worked on this issue with ACP YPN. Nicole spoke on her previous internship where she formed a new position that centered on diversity and inclusion; and Diana and Sarah spoke on how they began their own NGO’s to create a platform for their voices.

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In conclusion, the event was not one to miss! Discussions like this expand not only the minds of the audience but also of our panelists whom continue learning and growing. The event affirmed the goals of ACP Young Professionals Network and of Black History Month EU! As youth and as people of color we deserve to have our voices heard, respected and celebrated!

Black History Month EU continues this weekend with an Afro-beat class at Fred Academy! Also check out our next event on Digital Inclusion and Entrepreneurship next Thursday at IHE Brussels. See the rest of the month’s events on the calendar below!

BHMEU schedule

By Tais Idi-Infante – Get in touch via Linkedin
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ACP YPN Expert at Royal Commonwealth Society International Meeting

On the 16th October 2018, Asia La Chapelle Williams (SDG 11&13 Expert) presented the work of the Sustainability Campaign to date as part of a partnership project with the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN). The participants of the event included members from the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, and the Blue Charter Initiative. See the attached agenda here: 2018 International Meeting Programme – Day 2

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Some of the main recommendations include:

1. Reduction of plastic consumption and improved waste management across the Commonwealth;
2. Measuring and taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint through tools and lifestyle choices – 2.2 billion people across the Commonwealth, 60% of whom are youth have a significant impact in addressing the climate change challenge;
3. Required support for future sustainability campaigns that take into account individual actions as well as the influence and inclusion of youth in policy making at a local, national, regional and international level.

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In conclusion, the UN IPCC report launched in early October 2018, provided us with some stark choices to meet the 1.5 degree celsius threshold and in order to meet these challenges and tackle climate change, radical action is required at an individual and global level to meet these targets. 2030 provides us with a small window of opportunity to create a better world, a protected environment and a more stable climate.

By Asia Williams – Get in touch via Linkedin:

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ACP YPN AT PLATFORMA 10 YEARS ANNIVERSARY

ACP YPN  on decentralized cooperation at Platforma 10 years anniversary. On 10 October 2018, Aïssatou Touré , ACP YPN Public Policy Officer spoke during the opening ceremony of  Platforma 10 years anniversary on decentralized cooperation alongside: Rob Metz, Soest Mayor (the Netherlands ) , Chairman of the International delegation of VNG; Linda McAvan, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Development Committee;  Vincent Codjo Acakpo, Mayor of Dogbe (Benin), co-laureate of the 2018 Platforma Awards on decentralized cooperation.

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Aïssatou discussed within the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) – European Union (EU) partnership the role of (1) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including youth organizations in decentralized cooperation, (2) the role of young people in supporting the implementation of SDGs  at the local level and (3) the engagement of local governments to mobilize the potential of youth.

First, Aïssatou gave her definition of decentralized cooperation that should:

  1.  allow local authorities to exercise their autonomy and discretion depending on the needs of their local population by engaging with different stakeholders on a local level in particular with CSOs;
  2. allow decentralized participatory democracy and governance including transparency and accountability mechanisms;
  3.  through city-to-city cooperation promote exchange of technical and financial know-how.

One key component of decentralized cooperation is the involvement of CSOs to identify that the areas of cooperation are consistent and in line with community needs and priorities. This implies that participatory approaches must be integrated by authorities as outlined in article 2 of the ACP – EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) who defines participation as a fundamental principle of the cooperation between ACP countries and the EU.

Second, despite the fact that there is no “youth” Sustainable Development Goal  (Youth is referred in 5 of the 169 targets), Aïssatou highlighted the importance of the role of the youth in supporting the implementation of SDGs in aligning them with regional and local agendas and by creating enabling environment for youth and youth organizations. As such, Aïssatou used the example of ACP YPN providing a platform for young people to play an active role in policy-making processes at the local, regional, national and international level, assuring equality of opportunity in line with article 26 of the CPA and aiming to ensure inclusive, responsive decision-making at all levels as defined in SDG 16,7.

Third, decentralization can only strengthen local governments making them autonomous, accountable and enhance their services delivery if young people – who are the main beneficiaries  of their policies- are involved. Indeed, permanent spaces must be put in place by local authorities to use the potential of youth in defining solutions. As an example, ACP YPN created a Youth Forum at the ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly giving the opportunity for young people to engage dialogue with more than 100 representatives from the ACP countries and the EU.

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In conclusion, Aïssatou recognizes the necessity of transferring governance to local authorities and the importance to create permanent mechanisms to ensure sustainable participation in particular of CSOs and  youth organizations. This will allow an increased participation of local population and enhance ownership of development strategies by the direct beneficiaries.

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By ACP YPN

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ACP YPN Recommendations on the new EU Youth Strategy

On 1st October, ACP YPN launched their ACP YPN Communication on The New EU Youth Strategy: 9 Recommendations for an Inclusive Youth Strategy”. This paper builds on several years of advocacy on EU-ACP youth affairs, ACP YPN’s participation in the EU conference on the Future of the EU Youth Strategy (May 2017); the ACP YPN response to the EU’s consultation on the new Youth Policy (September 2017); the ACP YPN participation in the European Economic & Social Committee’s (EESC) hearing on the new EU Youth Strategy . The Communication is also symbolically launched on the 1st October, the first day of the launch of Black History Month EU – bringing a month on black history awareness to the EU. Access the 4-page communication here.

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The Communications explains that, “Investing in ACP Youth & youth of ACP heritage in the EU’s new Youth Strategy is crucial to build a sustainable future. ACP YPN fully supports the commitments outlined in the new EU Youth Strategy to empower all young people, including youth of ACP heritage living in the EU. Based on our extensive experience providing a platform for young people to play an active role in policy-making – in line with Article 26 of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement – we have drawn up this Communication to present 9 key recommendations to EU-ACP policy-makers under the three main headings of the new EU Youth Strategy: Engage, Connect, Empower.”

Some of the recommendations include:

  1. Further investment in and cooperate with organisations directly involved with youth of ACP heritage [Engage];
  2. Promote programmes for circular migration, youth mobility programmes between the EU and ACP countries by enhancing partnerships between academic institutions. [Connect];
  3. Provide and broaden alternatives to traditional education for accessing the labour market and job creation, through traineeships, apprenticeship, vocational training and incentives for youth-led start-ups and entrepreneurs. [Empower]

Read our full list of recommendations in the four page report. The contents of the documents include 9 recommendations in total that have been advocated for and worked on at key fora – including the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Youth Forums & Committee meetings; the EU-Cariforum Consultative Commitee; the 4th EU-Africa Youth Summit, amongst others.

By Adélaïde Hirwe and Kelly-Ann Fonderson – Get in touch with Adélaïde via Linkedin  and Kelly- Ann via Linkedin

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