ACP YPN Lessons on Employability – University of Bristol

On 8th November, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Director & Founder, presented her insights based on her experience working inside and outside the EU institutions, and on setting up ACP YPN, as part of the University of Bristol Employability week. Yentyl presented 9 key insights based around her motto: “Build your expertise, pursue your passions and never give up on your dreams!”

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Yentyl’s 9 principles were explained with reference to her 5year career working on trade policy in Brussels, and on her experience setting-up the international, award-winning NGO, ACP YPN:

Build your expertise
1) Define your interest and pursue it;
2) Spend time;
3) Develop patience.
Pursue your passions
4) Be solution-oriented;
5) Take risks;
6) Believe in your passions.
Never give up on your dreams
7) No door is closed;
8) Invest in yourself;
9) Use social media strategically (LinkedIn & Twitter).

Background infoYentyl Williams, a dual national of the UK and Trinidad and Tobago, is Director of the ACP Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN) and PhD Candidate at the Law department of the University of Bristol on The EU and Innovation in International Trade – A case study of the Intellectual Property (IP) provisions on Geographical Indications (GI) in the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)‘.

Yentyl has several years of work experience on EU relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states, in the public (European Commission, CTA, European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)) and private sector (consulting), as well as in academia (Ghent University; PhD at Bristol University). In 2015, Yentyl was appointed as the youngest Expert to the EESC for the Green Paper on ‘The Future of the EU’s relations with the ACP group and the successor to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement’. She has been researching the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements since 2011 and has numerous publications on the topic.

In December 2014, Yentyl founded ACP YPN to advocate that the EU and ACP countries utilise Article 26 of the legally binding Cotonou Partnership Agreement on ‘youth issues’. She has pioneered the inclusion of ACP youth in several dialogues, notably with the African Union, the Commonwealth, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Youth Forum and several UN agencies. She pioneered the establishment of the Youth Forum of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly; attained a position as member for the ACP YPN as the only young professionals network on the EU-Cariforum Consultative Committee (at the EESC) and secured ACP YPN’s place as member of the UN Major Group on Children and Youth.

Yentyl has been awarded a Commonwealth Champion for advancing the values of inclusion; recognised as an Ambassador for Diversity by the European Parliament and featured by the European Commission as one of three youth driving change for more inclusive societies for International Youth Day 2016. Yentyl is a graduate of King’s College London, Sciences Po Paris and post-graduate of the College of Europe, Bruges. She has researched, published and travelled widely in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, and also in Asia and South America.

Get in touch with Yentyl via LinkedIn  & see tweets here

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ACP-YPN at the World Youth Forum, 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 via LinkedIn and YouTube

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ACP YPN at ACP Private sector consultation, Barbados

On 1-2 November 2018, Yentyl Williams, Founder & Director of ACP YN represented the network at the ACP Secretariat and Business ACP’s private sector consultations on the Post Cotonou Negotiations in Bridgetown, Barbados. The consultations were formally opened by Viwanou Gnassounou, Assistant-SG of the ACP Secretariat (see video intervention here), Hon. Sandra Husbands, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados (see video intervention here), and H.E Daniela Tramacere, Ambassador of the EU to Barbados (see video intervention here). The consultations brought together 80 key stakeholders to with 4 specific objectives:

  1. To inform the ACP Private Sector on Post-Cotonou Negotiation process and issues;
  2. To develop a private sector position on the future relationship among the ACP states;
  3. To input and issue an ACP private sector position on Post-Cotonou negotiations;
  4. To officially launch the “ACP Business Forum”.

The plenary session that preceded the consultations included presentations on the following three pillars:

  1. Trade in goods and Services, by H.E Colin Connelly, Ambassador of Trinidad & Tobago to the EU, Chair of the Technical Negotiating team on this issue (see video intervention here).
  2. Investment and Finance, by H.E Haymandoyal Dillum, Ambassador of Mauritius to the EU, Chair of the ACP Sub-Committee on Investment and private sector (see video intervention here).
  3. Industrialisation, by Yvonne Chilese, Private Sector Expert, ACP Secretariat (see video intervention here and here).

During the plenary, Yentyl raised three issues:

  • ACP YPN has worked effectively with the institutions to establish the Youth Forums of the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and moreover, has been involved in other consultations processes such as the ACP Non-State Actors consultations (Nov. 2017). To what extent can we be assured that these advances in terms of youth participation and representation would be guaranteed in the post-Cotonou setting?
  • How will ACP Youth Entrepreneurship programmes be integrated within the post-Cotonou framework both at the the joint EU-ACP level and at the level of the ACP Secretariat and member states? ACP Youth have continually called for youth entrepreneurship programmes, including intra-ACP exchanges (see previous declarations).
  • How will private sector be harnessed to boost the participation and representation of ACP youth with regards to (i)  scholarships to pursue advanced masters at the College of Europe, to overcome the ACP exceptionalism that currently exists in EU external relations; (ii) internship opportunities, including at the ACP Secretariat, and (iii) advocacy at key events such as the annual European Development Days (where ACP YPN annually takes delegations of ACP Youth – see here).

The sessions were divided into the three aforementioned pillar areas and Yentyl was appointed rapporteur on pillar 3 – Industrialisation. For further information from the ACP Secretariat on the consultation see here (EN) and here (FR).

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Aminetou Bilal at the Youth Connekt Africa 2018

On 8 October 2018, Aminetou Bilal; President of Selfie Mbalite NGO, environmental and climate advocate from Mauritania, and member of the African Union Youth Advisory Council, attended the Youth Connekt Africa in Kigali, Rwanda with more than 1500 delegates from the continent.

The opening ceremony was marked by a musical performance of young artists, accompanied by 90 young people from the 9th cohort of the Volunteer Corps of the African Union, raising their flags. Aminetou is also among the AU volunteers.

Aminatou Bilal

The summit is marked by the hashtag #Africastartswithme which says a lot about the importance of empowering young people.

Inspiring keynotes by stakeholders at the summit on irregular migration, Sexual Reproductive Health, SDG’s, entrepreneurship, gender, challenges and opportunities for girls pursuing STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), AFCFTA; how it can generate growth and create multiple business opportunities for youth.

 Some of the main keynotes include:

  1. The UNDP Africa Regional Director Ms. Ahuna Eziakonwa: “Our African deserves the right to live their dreams in Africa instead of dying in the desert or the ocean”
  2. Transforming Africa through the prevention of teen pregnancy by UNFPA Rwanda
  3. Kill the inner voice and mindsets, leverage, adopt the gig economy, give males a seat in gender discussions, avoid confrontational speeches that we use towards different genders,
  4. “be Bold, aspire to be the number one, go and get it” by Ms. Diane Ofwona, the regional Director, UN Women office for West and Central Africa.

I call on all young Africans to participate in future editions of Youth Connekt Africa to build their capacity, inspire others, and return home even more motivated to have the Africa we want.

By Aminetou Bilal- Get in touch via LinkedIn

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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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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


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.


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 no. 10 with UK PM May for Black History Month, UK

On 15th October, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Director & Founder was invited to celebrate  Black History Month at a reception marking the UN Decade of People of African Descent at no.10 Downing Street with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.  PM Theresa May said, “Black History Month serves as an important reminder to us of the immense contribution that African and Caribbean communities have made in British life for centuries.” Yentyl was recognised for her immense contributions and as an exemplary Young People’s Ambassador to the EU of African-Caribbean descent, including the launch of Black History Month EU #BHMEU.  See the video below which includes insights from the event featuring Yentyl.

Yentyl discussed the strides the ACP YPN has made for youth at the EU level; the strength of partnership between the Commonwealth & ACP YPN; and the key role ACP YPN plays on trade at the EU-Cariforum Consultative Committee. Moreover, Yentyl emphasised that the efforts made by the UK to recognise ‘Black History’ must be emulated and celebrated at the EU-level, hence why ACP YPN launched Black History Month EU #BHMEU. See her video on the launch here.

Get in touch with Yentyl via LinkedIn  & see tweets here

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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.


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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