9.3 Exchanges between young people and policy-makers on global issues
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The Youth Board of Cyprus Law includes legal provisions and guidelines on youth consultation. In particular, the law contains the establishment of Advisory Bodies and clearly says that the Council should seek and take seriously into consideration the recommendations made by the Advisory Bodies on matters that it examines and fall under its jurisdiction. The Advisory Body is there to express views and submit suggestions regarding general principles of youth policy. Taking into consideration that the Youth Board of Cyprus (YBC) shall advise, through the Minister of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth the Council of Ministers about the configuration of a comprehensive and specialized policy on youth matters”, this consultation mechanism is across all policy areas directly influencing the situation of young people. For more info, please read the section 5.4 “Young people's participation in policy-making”.
Regarding the exchanges on global issues between young people and policy-makers at domestic level, youth consultations were held on a regular basis towards the end of 2018 for monitoring the National Youth Strategy 2017-2022 which dedicates a field of action on Youth and the World. Based on the YBC’s 2019 Annual Report, the outcomes were compiled in a Conclusions Report which presents 64 proposals by young people on new measures and 35 suggestions for improving current measures. The Report was the outcome of structured dialogue procedures, which were attended by 150 young people and representatives of Youth Clubs, Municipal and Community Youth Councils, the Cyprus Youth Council and the Cyprus Children’s Parliament. The consultations took place all over Cyprus.
In addition, according to the YBC’s 2020 Annual Report, following the adoption of the “Next Generation EU” Recovery Fund by the EU member state leaders on 21 July 2020, the YBC organised an online consultation with young people on 18 September 2020 in order to collect suggestions on reforms and actions that need to be taken, which the YBC will submit to decision-making bodies. The online consultation was attended by 30 young people from across Cyprus, who had the opportunity to discuss and submit their proposals and suggestions for the creation of a national plan on the following four topic areas:
1. Job market, social policy, education and human capital
2. A digital era of efficiency and productivity
3. Acceleration in forming a green economy
4. New development model and economic diversification.
The outcomes of the above consultations are available on the Policy Department website (Απορρέοντα ηλεκτρονικής διαβούλευσης του ΟΝΕΚ με τη νεολαία για το εθνικό πλάνο ανάκαμψης στο πλαίσιο του “Next Generation EU”).
However, among the society of active citizens, there are various exchanges of youth workers, young people and policymakers under the Erasmus+ Programme (e.g. through the method of structured dialogue/EU Youth Dialogue) for exchanging views and recommendations on key topics that concern young people on global level.
More specifically, the YBC’s 2020 Annual Report mentions that in 2020, the thematic priority of the EU Youth Dialogue was decided by the Trio Presidency Romania-Finland-Croatia. All EU member states which have a National Working Group for EU Youth Dialogue are involved in this process. In Cyprus, the National Working Group consists of representatives of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, the Youth Board of Cyprus and the Cyprus Youth Council, which holds the coordinating role. . In the context of this process, ten consultation meetings took place in 2020 (one with physical presence and nine online), attended by 130 people in total. In addition, various events were organised, aiming to promote Dialogue, as well as meetings among the National Working Group members to plan actions and analyse the consultations’ outcomes.
The Youth Board of Cyprus is run by a seven-member Administrative Board which consists of youth representatives. As the competent national authority on youth issues (a) it participates in international youth organizations’ meetings and develops bilateral contacts with respective youth bodies of other countries in order to be informed regarding the international development youth matters; (b) It stipulates protocols/programmes of cooperation with corresponding youth bodies of other countries for the achievement of the Board’s aims and (c) it funds the participation of young people and youth representatives such as members of the National Youth Council for their participation in international forums through the ‘’Youth Initiatives Project’’.
Moreover, the National Youth Strategy, under the priority “International cooperation in the field of youth”, sets the following objectives: (a) Active involvement in shaping advances and processes which take place at international youth policy-making centres; (b) Developing and maintaining Youth Board of Cyprus’ relations with the international community and promoting the Organization abroad; with a view to enhancing cooperation in the youth field. In this way, participation in international seminars and workshops, representation in international forums and conferences as well as memberships in international organisations is considered important.
Based on the 2018, 2019 and 2020 Annual Reports of the Youth Board of Cyprus (YBC), the Board members and staff of the YBC participated in several important European and international meetings, conferences and activities on youth related issues. These are:
- Participation in Working Groups on Youth Related Issues: The YBC participates in the Working Groups on youth-related issues during each Presidency of the European Council, as well as in European Youth Summits that are hosted by each Presidency.
- Participation in the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ): The YBC participates at the meetings of the Steering Committee for Youth of the Council of Europe twice a year, where policies and other youth related issues are discussed and strategies are put forward in the member states. The Executive Director of the YBC is one of the members of the Bureau of the CDEJ. In 2020, the meetings focused on: 1) The New Youth Strategy by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe, 2) Revitalising Democracy, 3) Human Rights Accessible to Youth, 4) Youth Work, 5) Youth and Climate Change, 6) Youth and Artificial Intelligence, 7) Minority Rights.
- The European Knowledge Centre on Youth Policy (EKCYP) of the Council of Europe: The YBC contributed to the work of the European Knowledge Centre through collecting and disseminating data and exchanging good practices on youth-related policies. In 2020, the YBC prepared a revised country sheet, which outlines the youth policies in Cyprus. Due to the pandemic, the EKCYP’s work focused on data collection, study and analysis as regards the pandemic’s effects on youth, youth organisations, and youth work development.
- The United Nations (UN): The YBC participates in the international conventions and forums organized by the UN, as the UN youth policies and initiatives are taken into serious consideration by the YBC in its National Youth Strategy. In 2018 and 2019, the YBC and Cypriot youth representatives participated in the following UN events: a) The UN Winter Youth Assembly, b) the 7thYouth Forum of ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council), which took place in New York, c) the Youth Summit on Youth Dialogue and d) The World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth 2019 and Youth Forum Lisboa+21. In 2020, no seminars or forums were organised by the UN, due to the pandemic.
- Commonwealth: The YBC encourages young people’s participation in the Commonwealth Youth Forum by providing financial and other kinds of support. In 2018, the YBC participated in two Commonwealth youth events that aimed at drafting a road map for a holistic development and promotion of employment for young people in Cyprus. The events were the Commonwealth Higher Education Youth Work Consortium Workshop and the 3rd Commonwealth Conference on Youth Work. However, in 2020, the pandemic had a significant impact on the Commonwealth Programme for Youth, and neither the Commonwealth Youth Forum nor other events were held.
In addition, in 2017 the YBC organised the international conference “Youth Cooperation for Peace (You Coop): Building Bridges to counter radicalization and extremism” which was held in Nicosia with 30 participants aged 18-35 years old on 13-14 December 2017. The conference was organised with the cooperation of the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth and it was attended by young people from Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Slovakia, who exchanged ideas on finding new ways to promote tolerance, understanding and the fight against stereotypes. The conference focused on two main topics: 1) recognition / exposure of youth policies’ contribution towards extremism and radicalisation; 2) creation of tolerant societies that promote a peace culture.
On 27 January 2022, the informal meeting of EU ministers responsible for education and youth took place in Strasbourg. The meeting brought the ministers together with European youth delegates for the first time, to discuss European best practices for sustainable development, whether in schools or through youth engagement. The aim of these discussions is to further develop the European strategy in this area, in anticipation of the Council meeting of ministers for education and youth on 5 April 2022. On behalf of Cyprus, the youth delegate who represented youth in the informal meeting, was the President of the Cyprus Youth Council (Γραφείο Τύπου και Πληροφοριών – Ανακοίνωση).
The Office of European and International Affairs in cooperation with the Office of the European Parliament in Cyprus also organises educational visits to the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg with the participation of students.