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Announcing the Young Arab Voices #Debate2Action Regional Forum in Tunis

Mon, 14/03/2016 - 18:32 -- Haitham Samy

Between March 24th and 26th, Tunis will host the #Debate2Action Regional Forum with more than 120 emerging young leaders from across the Arab region, in addition to European peers, policy-makers and international media.

The Forum is the culminating activity in the British Foreign Office-funded “Debate to Action” project. It is being co-organised by the British Council and the Anna Lindh Foundation through their regional flagship programme Young Arab Voices and in partnership with the International Debate Education Association (IDEA). It will provide a platform for young people to engage with established leaders and the media, in order to have a public dialogue on new research and pioneering practice on regional youth programming, to highlight the priorities for young people in the region, and it will culminate in the largest regional youth debate competition of its kind.

Speaking ahead of the Forum, Anna Lindh Foundation Executive Director Hatem Atallah said: “This will be a landmark gathering in our renewed efforts to reinforce the central role of young people in creating spaces for dialogue and generating alternative narratives in the face of negative trends impacting on societies to the north and south of the Mediterranean,” adding that “We know from our research and experience in the field that young people have ideas, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit to work together to create solutions to transnational problems.”

The British Council’s Country Director for Tunisia, Nigel Bellingham, said: “Our research provides evidence that young people want to be regarded as part of the solution, not the problem, a demographic dividend, not deficit. It is a massive opportunity and young people are a huge resource, a huge opportunity for this region to prosper.” He concluded by saying “Programmes like ‘Young Arab Voices’ have demonstrated that transformational change is achievable in the lives of young people. By developing their soft skills, we equip them with skills for life, for employment and to play a positive role in their society”.

The three-day forum will be launched on the 24th March with a public event to present and exchange views on the outcomes of the “Debate to Action” project and to introduce the main themes for regional policy dialogue and debate competition. The themes, which have been defined through a series of national dialogue events and debates held in recent weeks across eight Arab countries, will include: “Education”, with a focus on embedding debate and critical thinking skills in national curricula; “Media” and identifying ways of increasing more positive coverage of young people in traditional media outlets; “Social enterprise” and business training as routes to employment and socio-economic development; “Policy Dialogue” and mechanisms for effective youth engagement in contributing to shaping priority policies, also in relation to the new European Union Neighborhood Policy and it's pillar on People-to-People cooperation.

The Anna Lindh Foundation is co-funded by the European Union and the 42 Member States of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM).