Young Superheroes Build the Future of the Mediterranean
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning in Brussels. The sun was casting its first rays on the Art Nouveau curves and glass details of building facades. If you stood by the 1958 Whirling Ear statue at Mont des Arts to admire the beautiful city below, you could see a busy group of people pulling chests and carts into one of the many entrances of the Square Meeting Center. The NET-MED Youth team was there, setting up the Center’s Panoramic Hall for its big advocacy event in the afternoon, Creating the Future of the Mediterranean.
Around 100 people gathered in Brussels on September 19, 2017 to network and discuss on possible paths they could follow to shape the future of the Mediterranean region. They all came from different countries around the Mediterranean basin. they were young beneficiaries of NET-MED Youth from Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia; members of youth organizations from Europe and high-level officials from the European Commission and UNESCO.
The young participants shared their stories and ideas with officials from UNESCO, the European institutions and public institutions around the Mediterranean. This was a community of committed, modern young people representing all young “heroes” in the region that are ready to build a better tomorrow.
"We are here today because we have an opportunity to give other youth an opportunity," said Khadija Ali, NET-MED Youth coordinator in Libya.
The event was an occasion to highlight the stories of young people from NET-MED Youth and European youth organizations, and to show the tremendous efforts and impact they are making on the ground. Needless to say, this was also a great opportunity for the youth to interact with decision-makers - a first and unique experience where project beneficiaries and donors engage in conversations about how they could, together, continue shaping the lives of the millions of youth in the region.
"Youth need to push their own agendas, not us politicians,” said Jens Nymand-Christensen, Deputy Director-General, Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) at the European Commission. “We have to provide them with a space where their thoughts and concerns can be listened to. Youth participation is democracy.”
The conversations were rich. They revolved around democratic governance, conflict, unemployment violent extremism and the key challenges that youth face every day in the region. The young participants along with high-level European Commission officials, elaborated on the national and regional approaches to change, and called on everyone to join hands and implement sustainable solutions to the challenges at hand.
"The sense of belonging, integration and inclusion that youth organizations, and networks like NET-MED Youth and beyond, can provide is crucial," said Maryam Inayat, young Trustee at the British Youth Council.
Over the past three years, the NET-MED Youth project has enabled youth across the region to create national youth coalitions and revise public policies, lead outreach campaigns targeting over 100 national media outlets, and contribute to the first-ever sets of projections on skills needed for the job market.
"The event helped us all see clearly what NET-MED Youth members have achieved in different countries across the Mediterranean region, despite the obstacles they encounter every day, such as in Libya and in Palestine," said Adel Bourgazene, NET-MED Youth member from Algeria. "I was able to project our ideas and results into the future. We could see how the NET-MED Youth project would adapt its activities and actions to the new challenges. I am convinced that the future will be better and that our impact will be even bigger."
“Supporting youth in the Southern Mediterranean region is key to ensure the stability of their countries and that of Europe,” said Nada Al-Nashif, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO. “It is vital that we continue to build on the positive impact of the EU-funded NET-MED Youth project and on the commitment of its young members and partners to act on strategic areas for a better future.”
Scroll down to the Gallery to view the video and photos of the event.
You can find all the photos here.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.