PRESS RELEASE | It’s past time for young voices to be heard in conflict prevention and resolution

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It’s past time for young voices to be heard in conflict prevention and resolution

Friends of Europe and the Anna Lindh Foundation bring together young activists and leaders from the Euro-Mediterranean region to discuss better cooperation

May 2018, Brussels – With more than two-fifths of the global population under the age of 25, young people have a key role to play to build and maintain peace, bringing innovative ideas to conflict prevention and resolution building, and shaping the world we live in. Anna Lindh Foundation and Friends of Europe recognize that young people’s voices need to be heard and respected as equal partners for dialogue and put together, for the first time ever, a high-level dialogue between the Young Mediterranean Voices and EYL40 Young Leaders, who last week, brought candid views and hope into the powerful discussions on how to improve cooperation across the Euro-Mediterranean region.

“Young people should be empowered as key actors for community dialogue and peace-building instead of excluded from the conversation by negative media and political discourse,” stated Geert Cami, Managing Director at Friends of Europe. “This dialogue provided the platform for them to be heard by key decision-makers.”

The adoption by the UN Security Council of the groundbreaking resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security highlighted and legitimized the critical and positive role that youth play in international peace and security. However, despite this acknowledgement, the voice of young people in Europe and the MENA region is often left unheard. The Progress Study on resolution 2250 presented to the Security Council last month confirms that there is a growing trust gap between young people and their governments, multilateral organisations, and international civil society organizations.

“Young people across the Mediterranean are not waiting; they are already working and leading exceptional dialogue initiatives on the ground”, underlined Paul Walton, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at the Anna Lindh Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue. “There is an opportunity for Member States to invest in the upstream and youth-led social innovation, and to open up spaces for young people to shape policy narratives to better reflect shared values across our region.”

Participants joined high-level speakers from civil society and European institutions, to discuss topics such as art’s vital role in promoting change, gender equality and empowerment through business, as well as the critical need for skills and education to succeed in the digital age. The highlight of the event however was the in-depth discussions on what youth from the region really want, how to put those ideas into action, and how Europe can play a more constructive role in its southern neighborhood.

Among many proposed, the Erasmus Plus virtual exchange emerged as a promising innovating tool and approach that aims at broadening the opportunities for young people and provides the space for exchange to young people who are engaged in intercultural dialogue for the first time. The role of cities as spaces of growing youth-led dialogue practice was highlighted, with a strong recommendation to invest in local partnerships to ensure enhanced visibility of existing youth agency.

The event also saw their Majesties the King and Queen of the Belgians host the delegates at a dinner at the Royal Palace. The Young Mediterranean Voices went on to meet with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, who launched last year with the Anna Lindh Foundation a new policy track for YMV aimed at transforming youth voice to leadership in shaping regional cooperation.


Note to the Editor: 

About Friends of Europe
Friends of Europe is a leading think tank that connects people, stimulates debate and triggers change to create a more inclusive, sustainable and forward-looking Europe. @FriendsofEurope

About the EYL40 Young Leaders programme
The European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme, led by Friends of Europe, is a unique, inventive and multi-stakeholder programme that connects established leaders across a range of fields to discuss and offer solutions to Europe’s most pressing challenges. In 2017, the programme was expanded to include leaders from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and North America. For a full list of the current and previous EYL40 classes, visit our website.  @EYL40

About the Anna Lindh Foundation
The Foundation is the central institution for intercultural dialogue in the Mediterranean, with a long-term strategy for investment in a generation. It builds connections among people, promotes shared values, and focuses on the root causes of cultural divide. @AnnaLindh

About the Young Mediterranean Voices programme
Young Mediterranean Voices (YMV) is the flagship debate programme connecting civil society, education and policy-makers across the Southern Mediterranean and Europe. The programme provides a pioneering platform to open doors for young influencers to shape policy and media narratives. #YoungMedVoices

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