9.3 Exchanges between young people and policy-makers on global issues
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International Youth Days
To mark the International Youth Day in Malta, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ organises annual meetings and events for youth organisations at the Youth Village. The aim of such meetings is to initiate discussions on the International Youth Day theme.
In 2014 as part of the International Youth Day 2014, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the Maltese Olympic Committee organised a sport event to promote physical activity. In 2015 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ teamed up with Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport and the Maltese National Youth Council to commemorate the International Youth Day 2015 focusing on Youth Civil Engagement. The theme for the International Youth Day 2016 was The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption and young people had the opportunity to discuss with national policymakers ways on how to tackle the issue of poverty, especially with regards to young people. In 2017 as part of the International Youth Day 2017 youth organisations attended a meeting at Aġenzija Żgħażagħ's Youth Village with the aim of initiating discussions on the International Youth Day theme and encourage young people to become agents for social change in their communities and contribution to peace building at international level. In 2018 as part of the International Youth Day 2018, themed 'Safe Spaces for Young People' Aġenzija Żgħażagħ launched Polifest, a 12 month initiative, during which young people had the opportunity to discuss with policy makers issues that effect their wellbeing in safe environments. In 2019 and 2020 the International Youth Day activities were held online. In 2019 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ celebrated the International Youth Day by launching Mirror and Windows 2, a research study that gave a voice to young people. In 2020 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ celebrated International Youth Day 2020 by meeting up with several innovative young people and youth organisations. The theme of International Youth Day 2020, “Youth Engagement for Global Action” seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced. In 2021 On Youth Day 2021, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Youth Council, reconfirming both organisations' commitment to continue developing collaborative fora that enable young people to voice their thoughts, ideas and concerns with national and international stakeholders.
Commonwealth Youth Forum
The Commonwealth Youth Forum is held every five years, in parallel with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), In 2015 it was held in Malta. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ was actively involved in organising and hosting the event.
The Commonwealth Youth Forum runs in parallel with the CHOGM programme and its primary aim is to facilitate and encourage constructive dialogue between young people and heads of government in addressing youth related issues.
The overall theme of the Common Wealth Youth Forum in 2015 was 'Adding Global Value...#WhatNext?' . The forum discussed practical solutions and strategies focusing on how young people can contribute and add value to upholding and promoting the Commonwealth Charter, achieving the goals of the post 2015 development agenda to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development in the Commonwealth
following the conclusion of the Commonwealth Youth Forum the Commonwealth YouthCan Network was officially launched. This initiative was possible through the collaboration of the Institute of Strategic Dialogue, the Commonwealth Youth Division and the Parliamentary Secretariat for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport in Malta. The aim of this network is to upscale and optimize grassroots efforts to combat violent extremism of all forms. It enables an ongoing and international exchange of practices and know-how and fosters collaboration and co-creation between its members. Through the network, young people’s needs and views can be represented to policy makers.
The Commonwealth Youth Forum concluded a number of outcomes targeted for action over the next five years under economic, environmental, social and political agendas.
Under the Economic agenda action is to be taken to promote open and fair access to science and technology; create pathways to sustainable development and promote decent employment; and support youth entrepreneurship for economic growth.
As part of the Environment agenda action is to be taken to address disaster risk reduction and management; balance production and consumption patterns with sustainable development; and transform climate change into relevant opportunities for the youth.
Under the Social agenda action is to be taken to re-assess access to quality education for youth; create alternate pathways for accessing medical and health services; and supporting and recognising Youth Workers.
As part of the Political agenda action is to be taken to counter the rise of global extremism; promote social cohesion and reconciliation; and develop and promote human rights across the Commonwealth.
Youth and Sustainable Development 2020
As part of the European Week for Sustainable Development 2020 the Ministry for Sustainable Development in collaboration of Agenzija Zghazagh organised a conference entitled Youth and Sustainable Development to kick start the discussion, bringing together young people and policy makers and to create a space where young people can be involved in the design of strategies leading towards the vision 2050.
During this conference young people were involved in workshops with youth workers from Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the National Youth Council SDG Ambassadors to discuss issues around Education and Sustainable Development, Future Sustainable Jobs and Social Sustainability to promote Wellbeing. The outcome of these workshops was presented to the floor in a final plenary.
Moreover, young people had the opportunity to present their proposals to Members of Parliament in an event held a week later.
Commonwealth Youth Ambassador
In 2020 Malta nominates its first Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. The role of this ambassador is to act as the bridge between the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Youth Council and Maltese youths while also enhancing the sense of belonging of young people to this institution. The focus of the work will be on issues related to unemployment, poverty, quality education, housing, sustainable environment and climate change. This will give the opportunity to Maltese young people to have a voice in the global community and within the current political climate to provide a space where they can put forward innovative solutions to transform and connect our Commonwealth.
UN Youth Delegate
In 2021 Malta nominated its first UN Youth Delegates. The role will be held for 24 months and the chosen delegate is attached to the Permanent Mission of Malta to the United Nations in New York for a period of 4 to 6 weeks and will participate in relevant meetings of the United Nations. The role will be require the delegate to write and deliver speeches, negotiate statements and resolutions and proactively liaise with the media. In addition, the representative may be required to participate and support events organised by the Permanent Mission of Malta to the United Nations in New York.
In this regard the role of the UN Youth Delegate is divided into 3 phases. Phase 1 is the work prior to the General Assembly: The Youth Delegate will engage with young people in Malta and abroad, also in an online dialogue, on the work of the United Nations and international issues, in addition to elevating youth voices in the global conversation, capturing their concerns.
The second phase relates to the General Assembly. The youth Delegate attends meetings and side events at UN events, chronicling this experience “behind the scenes” through social media. The role also involves Mission’s work, including accompanying diplomats from our Mission to learn about global policy issues. The youth delegate will discuss issues with youth delegates from other countries in coordination with the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
The third phase relate to when the Delegates returns home. The youth delegate will share experiences with diverse audiences, reporting back on the state of global issues, how young people can make an impact and acts as a voice for youth and a portal to the UN via his or her online presence. The youth observer attends institutions such as MEDAC, conference and events related to global issues.
Young Mediterranean Voices
Young Mediterranean Voices is an intercultural programme spread across the Southern Mediterranean region and Europe. The programme provides young women and men with a unique opportunity to:
- develop 21st century skills such as critical thinking and cultural intelligence through debate training and leadership;
- facilitate constructive online engagement and participate in intercultural debate groups through virtual exchanges;
- access a far-reaching network of experienced leaders, mentors and partner institutions working across the globe.
The programme builds on its successful precursor phase, Young Arab Voices, that was launched in Alexandria in 2011 by the Anna Lindh Foundation and British Council.
In 2016, on the occasion of the landmark Med Forum in Malta, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Federica Mogherini announced EU support to the Foundation for the programming expansion to “Young Mediterranean Voices”.
firmly backed by the 42 Member States of the Euro-Mediterranean process and embedded in regional and sub-regional frameworks of cooperation, among them: League of Arab States-EU cooperation; Africa-EU partnership; and the “5+5 Dialogue”.
The programme is coordinated by the Anna Lindh Foundation, co-founded by the British Council, and developed in partnership with the Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), Friends of Europe, the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, MEDAC and Soliya. The programme is funded by the European Commission (Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations), and co-funded by the Government of Finland, World Bank Group and the British Council.
In 2019 the Anna Lindh Foundation in partnership with the British Council and the National Youth Agency of Malta, with the support of the European Commission organised the Mediterranean Voices’ Debate and Policy Forum. This was the first forum of its kind bringing together youth-led debate communities from the South Mediterranean with peer networks in the North. It was intended to create a blueprint to expand the role of young people on both shores of the Mediterranean in driving our work to achieve the Global Goals of Agenda 2030.
During the three-day Forum, 50 representatives of debate associations in more than twenty countries took part in thematic debates connected to the Global Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2030. The Forum debate was also connected through virtual exchange to debaters in diverse communities across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the Balkans.