At a time when the global youth population is the largest it has ever been in history, young people continue to be under-represented in the world’s legislatures. Today’s world is home to 1.8bn young people, a huge generation with an unprecedented ability to connect with one another despite the geographic constraints of yesteryear. The way in which these shifting demographics in the world are leveraged is critical for the progress of not only our societies but also for the health of our planet.
Friends of Europe (FoE) and the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation (ALF) will organise from 4th to 5th November in Brussels the 2019 edition of their EU-MENA Youth seminar.
This unique two-day EU-MENA seminar is run in association with the flagship regional programme “Young Mediterranean Voices” coordinated by the Anna Lindh Foundation and co-funded by the European Commission (DG Neigbhourhood and Enlargement Negotiations), launched by the EU High-Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
During this seminar, a group of Friends of Europe’s European and MENA Young Leaders will meet with a selection of the most active young leaders from the Mediterranean region working with the Anna Lindh Foundation, giving them the opportunity to learn, engage and get inspired.
It is an opportunity for young people from across the Euro-Mediterranean region to meet in Brussels to discuss their experiences with influential representatives (aged 40 or under) from civil society, public life and enterprise. Their discussions will allow them to voice issues that they view as critical to both their generation and their societies as a whole.
The 2019 seminar will tackle global issues focused on “bringing back the common ground” to counter deepening polarisation across the societies of the Europe and the Mediterranean, and “rebooting regional cooperation” to support young people as drivers of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. Other topics to be covered during the discussions include “rethinking the global food system” addressing how to ensure greater food security for the world’s hungry, and the “climate urgency”.
The EU-MENA Seminar has been timed to engage the new European Union leadership in working together with young leaders to define a next chapter of regional and international cooperation. The seminar brings together the far-reaching networks of the 40 years old or under “European Young Leaders” and “Young Mediterranean Voices” millennials.
A moment to welcome the EYL40 and YMV to their first joint seminar and an opportunity for them to meet with their peers.
Co-Founder and Secretary-General at Friends of Europe
Head of the Executive Office and Communication Manager at Anna Lindh Foundation
EYL40 and YMVs will reflect on the most pressing challenges that the world and its citizens currently face.
Libya Analyst, Award-Winning Journalist, 2013 European Young Leader
In an era in which we are facing global issues that demand quick and effective collective action, such as climate change, migration and growing inequalities, both politicians and citizens appear to be distracted and paralysed by polarisation. Trust in the rational and stable middle ground of deliberative party politics is disappearing, with people instead opting for strong emotions, populistic rhetoric and big personalities. Issues related to national identity, cultural values and ethnic origins have been prominent in the political debate worldwide, causing not only political division, but also cultural and social polarisation.
Many governments are unable to respond adequately to the growing social, ethnic and religious conflicts – or oftentimes even foment these tensions. Instead, antagonistic narratives seem to be the only way of conceiving the vote. Societal debate has been hijacked by the more extreme movements that instigate high-tension debates, in which more moderate voices and much needed debates about common concerns such as climate change are losing power and influence.
What is the glue binding us together for the future? What can be done to encourage moderate voices? How can we counter social and political polarisation?
Lecturer in Political Sociology at the American University in Cairo
Kris De Meyer
Research Fellow in Neuroscience at King's College London
Iranian-American Journalist, 2017 MENA Young Leader
Online activism or slacktivism
From the American youth-led gun-control movement after the Parkland shooting to the European school strikes urging politicians to stop climate change initiated by a 16-year old Swedish girl, social media has undeniably allowed young activists to instigate social change that resonates on a massive scale. Youth activism is distinguished by its online accessibility and potential to reach likeminded people from around the globe. Yet many critics claim these adolescents are only engaged in ‘Facebook activism’, undermining the traditional democratic structures in place. Furthermore, the companies that youth turn to for their political empowerment act simultaneously as their primary source of information.
Although the use of technology and social media can be a major force of change, it also runs the risk of being considered supporting a social cause in a rather shallow, non-factual manner that commands little to no effort. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as Slacktivism. How do we make sure that we unite youth’s social media opinions with political representation? Can we entrust social media companies and the business models behind them to play such a huge part in linking youth and politics?
Writer and LGTBQ activist, 2019 European Young Leader
Thomas Myrup Kristensen
Managing Director EU Affairs and Head of Brussels office at Facebook
Women’s Rights Activist and a member of the feminist collective Fight Like a Woman
An informal discussion between speakers from the cultural sector and the participants on the topic of art and its role in intercultural exchange will take place over dinner.
Director-General of the Africa Museum
Director of Fondation Boghossian
How to influence social change as a citizen beyond voting
Ever feel like you want to make a difference in your community but don’t know how? It’s not always easy to find your way in the maze of participation constructions.
This workshop will be given by Andrea Boccuni, Head of Partnership and Education at The Good Lobby, a start-up committed to fostering assertive citizenship so as to create more accountable, cohesive and happier societies. The workshop will provide you with a unique opportunity to learn how to lobby for good and discover the lobbying tools available to you to make meaningful changes in society.
Feeding the nine billion
The UN estimates the world population will increase by an additional 2bn people by the mid-21st-century. Assuming a nutritionally adequate diet, this will require an estimated 28% increase in our food supply. Scientists and farmers are eagerly looking for innovative solutions to boost food production to cater for the foreseen 9 billion mouths that we will need to feed.
The global food system of the future has been envisioned by some to one day rely on smart robots, blockchain and the internet of things to manufacture synthetic foods for personalised nutrition. Next–generation biotechnologies are already looking to re-engineer plants, animals and farming. In this sci-fi-esque future, will crops grown on the sides of skyscrapers be pollinated by flying robots? Or will we have to expand our diets to include insects, algae and gene-edited foods?
How can we ensure greater food security for the world’s hungry? Could new technologies help us grow food more effectively? How do we avoid a world in which only the rich can afford nutritious food?
Co-Founder and Managing Director of nextProtein
Tomáš Ignác Fénix
Farmer & Vice President of the European Council of Young Farmers, 2019 European Young Leader
Olivier De Schutter
Co-Chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food)
Addressing the climate emergency necessitates cooperation and innovation at local, regional and international level. As sister regions, the EU and MENA have an opportunity to invert longstanding misconceptions and unequal relations by adopting a shared sense of responsibility for tackling this global issue. Given the history and interconnectedness of the two regions, the climate emergency sets the scene and context to develop the required actions, technologies and behaviour changes. As climate change is without borders, exchanging knowhow, technologies and innovation can provide a pathway for both regions to connect and consolidate the right approach and reset the relationship between the regions. Younger generations will inherit the state of the planet, and they are making their voices heard. It is clear that the climate emergency connects these generations across regions, but developing these connections will be key.
How can innovation be better shared, learned from and scaled across the EU and MENA regions? What and where are the opportunities to develop and lever cross-regional sustainable finance? What role can cultural exchange play in terms of promoting behaviour change?
European Director at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Senior Associate at the European Climate Foundation (ECF)
Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment (UNEP)
Small group conversations will run in parallel to gain expertise in an informal setting, connecting participants to the global issues of the new EU agenda.
Integration and inclusion in the political sphere with Ozan Yanar, Member of the Helsinki City Council and EYL40
Transforming green energy with AI and robotics with Yostina Boules, Founder & Managing Director of Taqa Solutions and EYL40
Closing the gender gap with Hala Bugaighis, Co-Founder of Jusoor and MENA Young Leader
1. Integration and inclusion in the political sphere with
Member of the National Parliament of Finland, 2017 European Young Leader
2. Transforming green energy with AI and robotics with
Founder & Managing Director at Taqa Solutions, 2017 MENA Young Leader
3. Closing the gender gap with
Co-Founder of Jusoor, 2017 MENA Young Leader
Mainstreaming the Youth Perspective in Global Decision-making
Across the European and MENA regions, there is a growing trust gap between young people and institutions, including multilateral organisations, 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.
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, overconsumption 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 can young adults worldwide make better use of their connectivity to work on their shared concerns? What needs to be done to empower young people as agents of change in accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals? What are effective measures to build large-scale partnerships with youth agency at their heart, and counter the polarisation that currently prohibits global cooperation?
This key session is directly connected to the preparation of the forthcoming Croatian Presidency of the European Council, which includes the European Young Leaders Seminars and the Landmark Anna Lindh Foundation’s Forum 2020 in the framework of the Presidency.
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
Amro is a Political Sociologist at the American University in Cairo, a member of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities, an associate of the Sydney Democracy Network, and a former fellow at the Berlin Social Science Centre. His research interests mainly engage with Egyptian and Arab civil society, Alexandria’s urban politics, Arab public spheres, social movements, Middle Eastern geopolitics, and political philosophy. Lately, he has been focused on how human condition has come under assault from the forces of global consumption and material culture, and the effects this has on identity, city meaning, modernity, and citizenship. Amro writes for Open Democracy, Mada Masr, TIME, the Guardian, Jadalliya, Atlantic Council, and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.
Luc Bas is the Director of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) European Regional Office in Brussels, serving as its representative in EU institutions and providing leadership and guidance for all activities undertaken by the IUCN, government and NGO members within the European context. This includes informing decision-making through the IUCN’s knowledge on topics such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Red Lists, Protected Area management, Natural Capital and promoting the use of nature-based solutions across different sectors. Prior to this role, Luc was European Director of The Climate Group in Brussels as well as an advisor on international sustainable development policies for both the Belgian Federal and Flemish governments.
Andrea Boccuni is Head of Partnership and Education at The Good Lobby, a start-up committed to mobilising and empowering European citizens. Their aim is to foster assertive citizenship so as to create more accountable, cohesive and happier societies. At The Good Lobby, Andrea develops and implements strategic partnership strategies together with the Funders and Secretariat. He engages with companies, foundations, NGOs, professionals and institutions to deepen the outreach of The Good Lobby. Prior to joining The Good Lobby, Andrea worked as a Parliamentary Assistant at the European Parliament and as an external consultant for the European Commission in the Food Frauds Unit.
Yostina Boules, dubbed “the magic machine” by farm owners, is Founder and Managing Director of Taqa Solutions, an Egyptian based organisation aiming to provide a clean and independent energy source to farmers by producing energy from poultry waste. By doing this, the Taqa solutions simultaneously addresses the problem of waste management from one of Egypt’s main agricultural industries, while maximising clean energy production. Yostina was selected as a Pioneer of Egypt after becoming a finalist on El Mashrou3, an entrepreneurship reality television competition.
Hala Bugaighis is a lawyer and co-founder of Jusoor, a non-governmental organisation committed to independent policy research and human development projects for women with focus on the economic and social empowerment. As a lawyer with 15 years of experience, Hala focuses on commercial, banking, civil and investment laws, and has a sound understanding of law practice in an international context. Through her private companies, Hala has worked as a consultant to many international companies as well as Libyan private and public entities, focusing on development and capacity building. In 2015, Hala was nominated a UN Women Champion for Women Economic Empowerment – an initiative that aims to improve women’s economic standing and potential around the world.
Geert Cami co-founded Friends of Europe in 1999 and now mainly deals with the strategic development (from concepts to fundraising and implementation) of our think-tank and its flagship projects. He also focuses on the expansion and the activation of our vast network of senior political, corporate, media and societal contacts throughout the world, and coordinates the work of the Boards involved in the governance of the organisation. Since its launch in February 2019, Geert also runs TownHall Europe, the Davignon Centre for New Leadership, next to the European Parliament in Brussels.
In the nineties, Geert worked for a few years in ECHO at the European Commission, where he helped create and develop the then newly set-up Information and Communications Unit. His focus was mainly on raising the profile of the EU’s humanitarian efforts throughout the world, managing the Information Budget and dealing with outreach through publications and media initiatives such as exhibitions, television debates or Humanitarian Days in Member States.
Geert also headed the European conference organising, press relations and publishing company Forum Europe for more than ten years. At the outset of his career, Geert worked for 2 music programmes at Belgian public Radio 1, and very briefly as a teacher and TV journalist.
Syrine Chaalala is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of nextProtein. She co-founded nextProtein in 2015 after working as an Emergency Operations Officer and Coordinator for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for a decade and seeing the devastating results of climate change first-hand. nextProtein produces insect-based protein for animal feedstocks in a quest to accelerate sustainable agriculture and tackle resource scarcity. The start-up is able to match the nutritional value of traditionally-produced protein at reduced cost and with significantly less resources. Through this pioneering and innovative process, nextProtein is able to provide a concrete solution to major societal problems: a growing population, food waste and the negative environmental impact of the agroindustries.
Kris De Meyer is a Research Fellow in Neuroscience at the Department of Neuroimaging and a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Geography. He specialises in how people become entrenched in their beliefs, how this leads to polarisation in society, and how to overcome this. Kris works with environmental scientists, policymakers and conservation NGOs to support them in communicating more constructively about controversial environmental topics, such as climate change. He is a core member of the Challenging Radical Uncertainty in Science, Society and the Environment network and of the UCL Policy Commission on Communicating Climate Science. He is also the producer of the award-winning documentary, Right Between Your Ears, which explores the neuroscience and psychology of entrenched views, co-creator of children’s radio series Climate Explorers, and the participatory theatre piece, The Justice Syndicate.
Mary is a journalist and analyst specialising in the Euro-Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya. She has worked on Libya since 2011 and lived there throughout 2014. Her work has appeared in publications including the Economist, Foreign Policy, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Financial Times and the Guardian. She has conducted research on Libya for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMED) among others. She is a contributing author to an edited volume on the Libyan revolution published by Oxford University Press. In her previous role as Irish Times foreign affairs correspondent, she reported from 40 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. She is a member of the Global Women’s Forum ‘Rising Talents’ network.
Olivier is Co-Chair of IPES-Food. He served as UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and was elected to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2014. Olivier is also a Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain and at Sciences Po Paris. He has taught at the College of Europe (Natolin), as a Member of the Global Law School Faculty at New York University and as Visiting Professor at Columbia University. In 2013, he was awarded Belgium’s top scientific award, the Prix Francqui, for his contribution to the advancement of EU law, the theory of governance, and human rights law.
Tomáš Ignác is the Vice President of the European Council of Young Farmers – the voice of Europe’s next generation of farmers towards the European institutions. He also runs a 50-ha organic fruit and wine family farm in southern Moravia and cooperates with agricultural and environmental institutions as part of his farm business. The motivation to farm in this less favoured region is a holistic approach to (re-)build the countryside. Previously, Tomáš actively engaged in the NGO Antikomplex, working on the German Czech reconciliation. In addition, he led the LGBT Christian community called Logos for four years. His ambition is to advocate for a sustainable agricultural policy and a strong bond of the European nations and between rural areas and cities.
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.
Guido is a Belgian academic and agricultural economist who has been Director-General of the Royal Museum for Central Africa since 2001. As Director-General, he initiated a reorganisation and renovation of the museum, focusing on updating the museum’s portrayal of Belgium’s colonial era. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office and of the Fund for Scientific Research, as well as the Chair of the Jury that annually awards the Development Cooperation Prize. Guido has also been the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, based in Aleppo, Syria.
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.
Erica Hope is a Senior Associate at the European Climate Foundation, where she leads the cross-sectoral ‘2050 Task Force’ and governance programme seeking to build knowledge, political strategies and coalitions to drive the transition to a net zero emissions society by mid-century. Erica has previously worked for the energy efficiency and UK programmes of the ECF, and before that led the policy and advocacy activities of NGO network Climate Action Network Europe on energy efficiency. She was also a researcher to Green MEP Caroline Lucas, and has worked at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London.
Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Dharmendra Kanani was director of policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). He was the England director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. Dharmendra has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sector and advisor to numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.
Joyce is the Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment. With more than 20 years’ experience in international development strategy and operations, Joyce has held leading positions across Africa, Asia and Latin America. She recently served as Acting Executive Director, overseeing UN Environment’s portfolio in 33 countries and administering nine Multilateral Environmental Agreements on critical environment issues. Other notable positions include that of Adviser to the World Bank’s Vice-President, East Asia and Pacific Region in Washington, D.C., World Bank Institute’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Coordinator in China, Principal Strategy Officer at the International Finance Corporation and Special Adviser to Lord Nicholas Stern, World Bank Senior Vice President and Chief Economist.
Thomas is the Managing Director for EU Affairs and Head of Facebook’s Brussels office, where he is responsible for Facebook’s representation towards the European Institutions. Prior to returning to Brussels, Thomas spent the last few years representing Facebook in a number of member states as well as countries outside the EU as Director for Public Policy, Nordics, Central & Eastern Europe and Russia. He has also held previous positions at Microsoft and the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. Thomas’ career in tech stems from a life-long passion for how tech can both improve human interactions and shape society.
Negar is an Iranian-American journalist covering Iran in English and Persian. She writes, reports and tweets on Iran extensively and is a frequent commentator on Iran at MSNBC, BBC, PRI, New York Times, Aljazeera, Huffington Post, and international outlets across the world in Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Switzerland, and Japan. She worked as a TV presenter at Voice of America Persian where she hosted a daily hour-long interactive show that discussed current affairs with Iranians across the world.
A leading voice on LGBTQ rights and politics, Una is one of Ireland’s most reputable young activists. As a journalist, broadcaster and author, she has written for prominent news outlets such as The Guardian and the Sunday Tribune, in addition to contributing a weekly column to the Irish Times. Her two books, In The Name Of Love, and her anthropology, Repeal the 8th, trace the historical developments which culminated in the two separate referenda on marriage equality and reproductive rights in Ireland. She was the Independent Chair of Ireland’s National 2018 LGBTI+ Youth Strategy, which is the first of its kind. A poet and screenwriter, she has authored the documentary, I Am Irish, co-founded a music documentary film festival, co-created the pro-choice podcast, Don’t Stop Repealin’, and co-founded the Irish Times Women’s Podcast.
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.
Louma is the Director-General of the Boghossian Foundation. Based at the Villa Empain in Brussels, the Foundation holds a focus on the dialog between the Oriental and Western culture. As head of the Foundation, Louma has conceived several exhibitions including Frontières Imaginaires (2017), Melancholia (2018), and Flamboyant (2019). Prior to join the Foundation, Louma worked on several exhibitions and projects around the world, most notably Chemins de Traverses in 2015 and Mental Map in 2012. As well as working at Paris’ Institut du monde arabe and the Mathaf in Doha, Louma’s experience extends to Abu Dhabi’s Louvre Museum, as well as New York Guggenheim museum and Luxembourg’s Mudam.
Ana is a Women’s Rights Activist and a member of the feminist collective Fight Like a Woman, living and working in Skopje. She has also contributed to the UN Women’s ‘Not only on March 8th’ initiative, which makes the point that gender equality issues should not be in the limelight only once a year, on International Women’s Day, but should be publicly debated consistently. Together with other feminist activists, Vasileva recently kicked off a new online social movement against sexual harassment, under the hashtag #ISpeakUpNow, inspired by the global #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.
Paul Walton is Head of Institutional Affairs and Communications at the Anna Lindh Foundation and Chair of the Board of Governors of the British School in Alexandria. Paul began his international career as Founding Director of the Millennium Project Youth 2000 that was commended by the British Prime Minister for its impact on global citizenship learning. He went on to become Executive Director of Global Voice, an international NGO working in the field of education. Paul also lectures on international affairs at the University of Malta’s Mediterranean Academy of Diplomacy (MEDAC), and has been interviewed by the BBC, Al-Arabiya, Al Ahram and the New York Times.
Ozan is a Finnish economist and politician. He has researched issues relating to unemployment and wage differences. He has worked at the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions and in the Labour Institute for Economic Research and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. He was the Co-Chair of the Federation of Green Youth in 2015. At the age of 27, he was elected as a Green League Member of the Finnish Parliament. As an MP, he campaigns for social equality and spearheads the fight against discrimination. In 2017, he was in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list.
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