9.3 Exchanges between young people and policy-makers on global issues
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The Public Council on Youth Issues is a consultative unit at the Minister of Youth and Sports for the establishment of positions, opinions and initiatives for solving problems within their jurisdiction. The Public Council discusses and makes proposals for draft legal regulations and strategic documents and proposes specific initiatives in the field of young people in the country, gives recommendations to the Minister of Youth and Sports for solving issues within the youth sector, coordinates the interaction between the Ministry of Youth and Sports and nongovernmental sector representatives when developing and implementing the youth policies. The members of the Council are representatives of organisations registered under the Non-Profit Legal Entities Act (Закона за юридическите лица с нестопанска цел) for pursuing activities in public benefit and for implementation of youth activities.
The National Consultative Youth Council is a consultative body supporting the Minister of Youth and Sports in the implementation of the national youth policy. The National Consultative Council on Youth comprises the following members:
- deputy minister of youth and sports, deputy minister of economy, deputy minister of tourism, deputy minister of labour and social policy, deputy minister of healthcare, deputy minister of culture, deputy minister of interior, deputy minister of justice, deputy minister of regional development and public works, deputy minister of finance, deputy minister of education and science, deputy chairperson of the Child Protection State Agency (Държавна агенция за закрила на детето);
- representative of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria;
- representative of the National Representation of Student Councils (Национално представителство на студентските съвети в Република България);
- one representative of each nationally represented youth organisation.
In Bulgaria a National Working Group for implementation of the EU Youth Dialogue is currently in process of establishment. (See subsection 9.7.)
As part of the administration of the Erasmus+ program, in 2018 HRDC has funded projects for structured dialogue between young people and youth policy-makers at local level. 1 956 young people have taken direct participation in these projects (more than 40% increase in comparison to 2017), which shows strong interest on the youth policy topics and active involvement in the civic society.
Furthermore, in 2018 two meetings of the national children’s consultative body – the Council of Children, were held in the city of Haskovo and the city of Plovdiv. The procedure for selection of children – members of the Council, with the cooperation of the municipal authorities and district administrations, was carried out in 15 districts and 28 members were selected (main and substitute members). During their meetings, young people discuss topics related to the closing of penitentiaries, child’s metal health, the national child helpline 116 111, amendments in the Council’s By-Laws for inclusion of children looking for and receiving international protection, thematic fields in the new Child National Strategy, planning of campaigns and discussion for establishment of awards for media engaged with the child care quality.
Twice a year young people from Bulgaria participate in the political debates of the youth ministers within the frames of informal lunches or breakfasts organised during the regular sessions of the EU Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council. They have the opportunity to discuss with policy-makers various themes on important issues set out by the Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The EU Youth Conferences organised twice a year are another mechanism for exchange of views with politicians. The official Bulgarian delegates who participate in these conferences are selected by means of contest organised by the NYF and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Candidates need to be young people or representatives of youth organisations experienced in the field at the age of 15 to 29 years, or youth workers (without age limits).
Numerous activities were implemented in 2018 with regard to the increase of young people’s civil activity. This year was rich of youth participation in the youth policy development and implementation processes in Bulgaria, having in mind that our country was charged with the Presidency of the Council of the EU. Meetings of the Public Council on Youth Issues at the Minister of Youth and Sports were held to discuss the calendar of Presidency events. The key event was the EU Youth Conference held in Sofia, which was attended by more than 200 participants from Europe, the Western Balkans and the East Partnership. The main purpose of the conference was to give opportunity for direct participation of young people in the development of the new European Union Youth Strategy. The major deliverable of this conference is the establishment of the first youth goals, which are currently part of the new European Union Youth Strategy.
In 2019, the Bulgarian UN youth delegate took part in the Climate Summit in September in New York. The National Program Bulgarian UN Youth Delegates (Национална програма „Български младежки делегати към ООН“) starts in 2006 and is implemented by the United Nations Association of Bulgaria. The National Youth Forum (NYF) (Национален младежки форум (НМФ)) and ISIC Bulgaria are partners of the program. For a thirteen year in a row, two young persons are official delegates of our country in the UN. The main vision of youth delegates is to be a bridge between young people in Bulgaria and the institutions – both at national and at international level. This is ensured through regular meetings with young people countrywide and enquiries among them for the purposes of identifying their key issues and needs. These data are summarised and analysed and are then used to prepare the speech of the youth delegates to the UN General Assembly and the ECOSOC Commission for Social Development. The Bulgarian government, represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Bulgaria to the UN recognise the Program Bulgarian UN Youth Delegates (Програма „Български младежки делегати) as the legitimate voice of the young people in Bulgaria. Thus, every year two young people take part in the decision-making process at the highest international level and practically ensure the youth participation in the development of young people-related policies and strategies.
Structured dialogue is a tool that ensures that young people’s opinion has been taken into account for the formation of youth-related policies within the European Union. In order to achieve this, structured dialogue unites young people, youth organisations, representatives of youth organisations and policy-makers across the EU to jointly discuss issues relevant to young people and to get involved in the youth policy at national and European level.
In 2019 the Ministry of Youth and Sports funded the participation of a Bulgarian youth leader in the Youth Model ICPD International Conference organised on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Nairobi Summit on Population and Development and held in Cairo, Egypt. The Cairo Conference was dedicated to the population and development issues, and in particular to extremely important topics such as sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people, gender equality and gender-based, the harmful practices in sexual and reproductive health, and to the global demographic situation.