ACP YPN on Re-Inventing Europe & Digital Development at College of Europe

On 21st October 2017, Yentyl Williams, President and Founder of ACP YPN presented at the College of Europe’s annual Re-Inventing Europe conference on the panel, ‘European External Development – innovation and digital solutions for a more equal world?’ The co-panellists included Erik van der Marel, Director of European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE); Elizabeth Press, Director Planning and Programme Support, IRENA; Simone Sala, International Expert on Digital/Innovation for Development, currently with FAO, Data-Pop Alliance and Michèle Kiermeier, World Food Programme as moderator.

Yentyl asked three main questions in her presentation.  Firstly, Yentyl asked the audience ‘What do we mean by development? And by extension what do we mean by digital development?’ Then she highlighted the World Bank’s 9 digital development principles as guiding points for the debate. The principles are: 1) Design with the user; 2) Understanding the ecosystem in which technology is developed (local context e.g. different usage due to different genders);  3) Defining for scale – open source and scalability is huge potential; 4) Sustainability – buy in of stakeholders;  5) Be data driven – SDGs underline value of data – data is open and easy-to-use; 6) Open innovation methodology (community) – open standard ‘311’ for handling complaints; 7) Re-utilisation of existing work and systems – missing in development world; 8) Address privacy and security – there is no agreement on this; 9) Be collaborative – about design but also the sharing of it. The principles highlight that knowledge-sharing can mitigate silos and promote more common learning.

Secondly, Yentyl asked the question of ‘how do multinational companies using digital development?’ She explained the paradox of linking digital development and sustainable development without structural economic transformation, especially in the case of energy efficiency and the move to more electric cars in Europe, with minerals being sourced from conflict zones, child labour, and/or impoverished communities in so-called ‘developing’ countries. Thirdly, Yentyl asked ‘How do policy-makers make use of digital development?’ She evoked the fact that, in the policy world, there is a lot of room for innovation since the SDGs, for example, have no reference to digital, just one reference to data and several to Technology.

In conclusion, Yentyl emphasised the need to have strong reference points when talking about digital development and the digital development principles are a great starting point. Moreover, she highlighted the fact that big companies, such as Google, have already understood these principles and invest already through numerous activities such as ‘Pitch Drives’. Nevertheless, social and educational value of digital development is paramount, and this is evidenced in new innovative forums on digital development, such as “Dakar Digital Show” or Le Fagem (the Forum for digital innovation in the agro-industry sector in Togo). This is an issue Yentyl aims to work on more as raise as part of the forthcoming AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative.

Yentyl favourite 2017 ‘digital development’: Yentyl was asked to select her favourite and she singled out the great local initiative, Schools’ Internet of Things, by the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) of Dominica. This initiative aims to respond to the challenges of climate change and Caribbean countries’ exposure to natural disasters by building weather stations in local schools using climatic sensors and cameras to capture data on local weather, and building students knowledge on web server technology, Internet protocols and other related software.

What is Re-Inventing Europe?

After the initiation of the debate about Europe’s future at the Harvard University’s‘European Conference’ in March 2013, some former students of the College of Europe decided to drive forward these discussions by organizing an annually held ambitious high level conference. This project, initiated in 2013, builds on an impressive network of universities, think tanks, foundations, and sponsors.

Involving the Younger Generation – A debate on the future of the continent cannot be conducted fruitfully without the input of the young generation. Uniting the College of Europe’s history as lively and ambitious graduate institute nurturing Europe’s future, we call our project a ‘Youth Conference’ and invite the young generation to voice its visions about the future of Europe. Find out more here.

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On 24th October 2017, Yentyl Williams, President & Founder of ACP YPN presented on ‘Unlocking the potential of ACP women and youth skills for industrial jobs’ as part of the ACP-UNIDO day Symposium. The theme of the Symposium was “Boosting ACP Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization

through job creation, value chains and productive investments.” The ACP UNIDO day was also a unique moment to launch the ACP-UNIDO report on investing sustainable prosperity, available here.

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The symposium began with an opening session with by P.I Gomes, ACP Secretariat Secretary General and Li Yong, UNIDO Director General, and Christophe Yvetot, UNIDO Representative to the EU and ACP Secretariat. The co-panellists included: Mr. Matteo Landi, Industrial Development Expert, Rural Entrepreneurship, Job Creation and Human Security Division, UNIDO;  Dr. Meryem Aziz Alaoui, Professor, Mundiapolis University of Casablanca; Ms. Meron Seid, Owner & designer, Exotic Leather, Ethiopia; Ms. Virpi Stucki, Learning Knowledge Development Facility; Ms. Dagmar Schumacher, Director, UN WOMEN Brussels Office and Mr. Viwanou Gnassounou, ACP Assistant Secretary General for Sustainable Economic Development and Trade as moderator.

Yentyl began by stating that a mix of policy + innovation is the key to unlock the potential of ACP women and youth skills for industrial jobs. Yentyl said that there are two main ways that innovation can be used to unlock the skills of women and youth. This includes: creation of spaces within existing institutions, based on ACP YPN’s formal inclusion at the EU-Cariforum Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) and where that is not possible, creating new structures/institutions to unlock this potential. This second example is based on Yentyl’s initiative to found the ACP-EU Joint parliamentary Assembly youth Forum.

Why? Yentyl underlined the importance of innovating beyond policy in light of the under-utilisation of Article 26 Cotonou Partnernship Agreement on youth cooperation, in order to realize the potential of youth so that they are better integrated into society to achieve their full potential. Indeed, up until the creation of ACP YPN it was mostly under-utilised; why because INNOVATION was needed! In the context of entrepreneurship and job creation it was especially under-utlised given the existence of Article 26.b, Cotonou, which sets out that the partnership should: promote the skills, energy, innovation and potential of youth in order to enhance their economic, social and cultural opportunities and enlarge their employment opportunities in the productive sector. Similarly, SDGs are not evidently linked to ‘youth’ since there is not one youth SDG and youth are just mentioned 3 times in the 169 targets.

In conclusion, Yentyl underlined that investing in young people is a productive investment –she called for boosting the value chain of young people’s knowledge, expertise and exchange and inclusive and sustainable industrialisation will follow.

What is UNIDO?

UNIDO is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. See more here.

Did you miss it? Watch the videos online:

Session 1 & 2  (FR)
Session 3 & 4 (FR)
See the ACP-UNIDO Symposium Concept Note & Programme here
Find out more via the ACP Secretariat

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ACP YPN in AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative #AUEUYPII

Yentyl Williams, President and Founder of ACP YPN has been selected to be part of the AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative. The #AUEUYPII is an unprecedented initiative by the African Union and the European Union to move beyond words to actions. Yentyl was selected as part of 36 strong youth delegation to work for the next five weeks between the respective Headquarters, in Addis Ababa and Brussels, to develop concrete proposals from the Abidjan Youth Declaration to ultimately present the action points to the Heads of State at the 5th AU-EU Summit.

The AUEUYPII is a unique opportunity for young people in Europe and Africa to be part of the decision-making processes of both continents, as well as a key vector of visibility for the institutions’ efforts to include young voices in sustainable development dialogues. The delegates will continue to work on the six thematic areas: (i) education & skills, (ii) peace & security, (iii) governance & inclusion, (iv) environment & climate, (v) business & job creation, and (vi) culture & arts.

You can actively take part in the journey by sharing your ideas via this form and by using the social media hashtag #aueuypii.

Find out more about AUEUYPII via the website here.

Check out the AUEUYPII Blog here.

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ACP YPN at the 4th Africa-Europe Youth Summit

On 9th-11th October, ACP YPN co-organised the 4th Africa-Europe Youth Summit, in collaboration with ADYNE,  ADYFE, the Network of International Youth Organisations in Africa, the Pan-African Youth Union, and the European Youth Forum, with input from the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. ACP YPN was represented by Yentyl Williams ACP YPN President and Founder; Celine Fabrequette ACP YPN Secretary General & SDGs #5 expert; Bora Kamwanya ACP YPN Parliamentary Relations Advisor and June Lacour, ACP YPN Programme Coordinator. The Summit brought together 120 youth from Africa and Europe, as well as the diaspora, to discuss and develop concrete solutions to issues affecting youth on both continents on the following six thematic areas: (i) education & skills, (ii) peace & security, (iii) governance & inclusion, (iv) environment & climate, (v) business & job creation, and (vi) culture & arts. During the summit, ACP YPN alongside ADYNE and ADYFE took the opportunity to exchange and explain the importance and “need to leverage the unique potential of the Diaspora Youth to inspire and channel positive change and effective cooperation between Africa and Europe”. The Summit concluded with the Abidjan Youth Declaration, which is available here.

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The 4th Africa-Europe Youth Summit aimed to strengthen the role of young people in the political process preparing the 5th AU-EU Summit, 29-30 November in Abidjan, for which the theme is ‘Investing in Youth’. Recognising the importance of this upcoming Summit, as well as the upcoming ACP-EU post-Cotonou negotiations, the Abidjan Youth Declaration is a balanced and cross-sectoral declaration which builds on previous recommendations made by ACP YPN, such as the ACP YPN St Julian Action plan, the ACP YPN Nairobi Declaration, the ACP YPN response to the EU consultation on future EU-ACP relations, and other advocacy work. The Abidjan Youth Declaration reaffirms the fact that Youth in Africa, Europe, Caribbean and Pacific, including the diaspora, face similar struggles and have identified similar solutions to solve it. It also reaffirms and directly spells out the importance of formal including Youth organisations in institutional cooperation, specifically in the development and implementation of new and innovative strategies and initiatives. In order to achieve this, the Abidjan Youth Declaration calls upon the Head of States and institutions to integrate the provision of financial support for effective youth cooperation in their agreement.

Following on from the Summit, over the next five weeks running up to the AU-EU Heads of State Summit, Yentyl Williams, President and Founder of ACP YPN has been selected to be part of the AU-EU Youth Plug-In initiative. For the first time, 36 youth delegates are involved in this unprecedented initiative to move beyond words to actions by developing concrete proposals from the Abidjan Youth Declaration, working between Addis Ababa and Brussels, to ultimately present the action points to the Heads of State at the 5th AU-EU Summit.

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ACP YPN at the Foundation for European Progressive Studies

From September 25th to September 29th . during the Social and Democrats (S&D) Africa Week; the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) had a panel discussion in which Bora Kamwanya ACP YPN Parliamentary Relations Officer together with Kiza and Alphonse from Netherland discussed Youth Political Mobilisation, Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly in Africa. The panellists attempted to answer the questions: What challenges and what opportunities does the contemporary engagement of Millennials entail for Africa’s democracy and institutions?” And “What are the ways we can promote African youth political mobilisation, freedom of association and peaceful assembly?” The discussion was introduced by Vassilis Ntousas, FEPS International Relations Policy Advisor and moderated by Maria Freitas, FEPS Policy Advisor. Bora started by saying that that young people are interested in politics, they know how damaging the actual political status quo is to them and above all, they know that the solution resides in their knowledge.

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He then outlined 3 challenges he believes prevent youth from access to full political participation. The first one is Mutual Trust between young and old generations – Bora defined that what the young generation wants is what Daenerys Targaryen would call “to break the wheel”, while the older generation wants to hold on to it not matter what – In his analogy, Bora describes the younger generation as the Mother of Dragon and the older generation as Cersei Lannister. The second challenge is finding Tools to constructively criticise without fear of repression or pressure from the community. Bora stated that in Africa we are educated to respect our elders to a level that is almost holy. In fact, it’s not allowed to correct your elder. Last but not least, he outlined the challenge of Access to the tools for emancipation. Bora said that youth need more platforms where they can express themselves freely in front of their representatives. Moreover, they should be able to submit recommendations to them. e.g. as it is done through the ACP-EU JPA Youth Forum.

On the bright side, he said, there are opportunities to seize from our challenges. The first one is that we can engage in more inter-generational exchange to promote holistic policy and decision-making. And then, we have the possibility of making the first step and Connect MPs and young people; something that the St. Julian’s plan does, by going further than just a declaration and breaks with NATO culture (no Action Talk Only).

TO answer the question How do we promote youth political mobilization, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, Bora suggested three options.

  • Youth mainstreaming – recognize youth as an interest group e.g. in the constitution of Kenya, article 97, there is a legal obligation for political parties to nominate a proportion of their members to represent special interest, such as youth.
  • Inter-generational exchanges.
  • Opportunities for young people to be integrated in different societal structures e.g. Internships for inter-generational exchange with MPs, which also promotes awareness raising for youth on political processes, and that is what we recommend in St. Julian’s

By Bora Kamwanya

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