Youth around the world are demanding change. From the streets of Beirut, Santiago and Hong Kong, to the global frontlines of the battle against climate change and the swelling ranks of millennial politicians with a foothold in government, the generation of the future is impatient for a slice of power right now.
Against that backdrop, Friends of Europe (FoE) and the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation (ALF) drew young leaders from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for a unique two day seminar to share experiences, debate pressing issues, and exchange ideas with influential figures from government, business, civil society and the arts.
The seminar sent a positive message on the strength of people power led by youngsters who, despite being under-represented at the political level, can still be a driving force for change and innovation. Participants from north and south of the Mediterranean underscored the importance of partnering to confront issues that cut across borders: inequality, gender rights, migration and inclusion, sustainable agriculture and the climate crisis.
There were warnings about the risks of “slacktivism” and the dangers of all-powerful social media platforms, fake news and cyber-repression. However, with the world’s 1.8bn young people forming history’s most-interconnected generation, mainstreaming youth participation in global decision-making was highlighted as a key tool for rebooting regional cooperation and countering the polarisation that increasingly blights political discourse in regions around the world.
Key objectives involved breaking down silo-based thinking by bringing together participants from different backgrounds, views and expertise; forging new networks and, most importantly, translating these discussions into collaborative action that can make a real difference.
Join Friends of Europe, together with the Anna Lindh Mediterranean Foundation, for the upcoming Policy Insight “Rebooting Regional Cooperation – Mainstreaming the Youth Perspective in Global Decision-Making” that will take place on Tuesday 5 November from 16:45 to 18:00 in Brussels.
Across the European and MENA regions, there is a growing trust gap between young people and institutions including multilateral organizations, national authorities and even international civil society. At the same time, young people across the two shores of the Mediterranean are leading innovative solutions on the ground, tackling issues from climate change and peace-building to historic polarisation across societies of the region. While young people drive change, they are not in the driver’s seat, and it is time to call for “license” to transform youth voice to youth agency in steering our common future.
Across the European and MENA regions, there is a growing trust gap between young people and their governments, multilateral organisations and even international civil society. Reactionary political and media discourse has led to the alienation of youth from multilateral discussions rather than empowering them as essential partners for international dialogue and development.
Meanwhile, governments across the world have agreed on the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that calls for a bold transformation in policy and practice. Its 17 SDGs are based on the understanding that the challenges we face, such as poverty, environmental destruction, inequality, over-consumption and conflict, are all interconnected and cannot be tackled by individuals or separate countries. It’s time to acknowledge the importance of the contributions made by young people to build and maintain peace, bringing innovative ideas to conflict prevention and resolution, and to recognise that young people’s voices need to be heard and respected as equal partners for dialogue.
How do we counter the political indecisiveness that currently prohibits global cooperation? How do we enable young adults to make better use of their connectivity and join hands in their needs and concerns? How do we empower young people as agents of change and key actors in the implementation of the SDGs and sustainable development strategies?
European Commissioner-designate for Innovation and Youth, and European Young Leader
“Young Mediterranean Voices” delegate, Egypt
European Commission Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations
President of the Anna Lindh Foundation and former French minister
Mariya is a Bulgarian politician currently serving as the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. Previously, Mariya was also a Member of the European Parliament, active as both the Head of the Bulgarian European People’s Party (EPP) delegation and Vice-President of the EPP party, and involved in a wide range of parliamentary committees, including acting as EPP Group coordinator for the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality( FEMM), and as a Member of the Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI); Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE); Petitions (PETI); and the special committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering (CRIM). Recipient of several international awards, she is passionate about initiatives related to young people, and has established six European information centres in Bulgaria.
Merna is a Legal Researcher focusing on terrorism and migration. She has an LLM in International Human Rights Law from Queen Mary University of London. Merna is a former Legal Intern at Redress, a human rights organisation seeking justice and reparation for torture victims. She has been active with Young Arab Voices and YMV as a debater and trainer since 2016, representing Egypt in summits in London and Malta. Merna is also an alumna of the Middle East Partnership Initiative programme (MEPI) at the University of Delaware and a former Congressional Intern at Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s office in Washington DC.
In his current role, Maciej Popowski is in charge of relations with Europe’s Southern Neighbourhood, Turkey, as well as migration, refugees and security issues. A Polish diplomat with more than 20 years of experience, he previously served as Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Director for EU Affairs at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time of Poland’s accession negotiations, and Poland’s first Permanent Representative in the EU’s Political and Security Committee. He was awarded the Polish Officer’s Cross for achievements in diplomacy and international cooperation in the EU.
Elisabeth Guigou is president of the Anna Lindh Foundation, a network of civil society organisations dedicated to promoting intercultural dialogue in the Mediterranean region. Before this appointment, Guigou served as French Minister of European Affairs, member of the European Parliament, and member of the French National Assembly, among numerous other posts. In addition to this, Guigou was the first female to be appointed Minister of Justice in France, where she distinguished herself for her fight for a more independent justice system.
With the support of
- Europe's World
- By Susumu Yuzurio
- Area of Expertise
- Citizens' Europe
- Europe's World
- By Hiroyuki Hino & Kalkidan Lakew Yihun
- Area of Expertise
- Citizens' Europe
- Area of Expertise
- Peace, Security & Defence