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HR/VP Mogherini launches pioneering 'Young Med Voices Plus' youth initiative in dialogue with young Mediterranean voices

Fri, 24/03/2017 - 01:33 -- Regina Salanova

Brussels, 23 March 2017 - The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini today launched the 'Young Med Voices Plus' initiative to “open all channels” to youth agency across the Mediterranean through large-scale communication and advocacy actions. A new generation of change-makers from the Southern Mediterranean region and Europe were hosted on the occasion at the European External Action Service (EEAS) headquarters in Brussels in an open dialogue with Mrs Mogherini.

The 36 participants came from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia with twelve young people from Europe.

Organised in partnership with the Anna Lindh Mediterranean Foundation and the European Youth Forum, the meeting is the first of its kind in bringing together authentic voices from across the Mediterranean to discuss in person with EU high-officials the global issues of the day and create innovative solutions to common challenges affecting societies.

The initiative represents a major achievement in a process driven by Young Mediterranean Voices, a leading network of young change-makers established in 2011 after the historic Arab uprisings. The network brings together young teachers, journalists, environments, social entrepreneurs, and peace and democracy activists from across North Africa, the Middle East and now Europe.

The dialogue today in Brussels coincided with new data released by Ipsos-MORI that illustrates the centrality of youth in building future open societies and addressing the root causes of growing cultural divide and polarisation. A vast majority of citizens in Europe and the southern Mediterranean now recognise youth-led initiatives and education reform as the best way to tackle discrimination and extremist narratives, according to the 13-country public opinion poll, commissioned by the Anna Lindh Foundation.

Next steps

The gathering with HR/VP Mogherini has also been the catalyst for a series of immediate-term actions announced today by the EU:

Launch of “YOUNG MED VOICES PLUS”, the initiative of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs to “open all channels” to youth agency across the Mediterranean through large-scale communication and advocacy actions in partnership with the Union´s Delegations and Representations across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). A taskforce of “Young Med Voices” has been appointed to ensure an effective follow-up to today´s inaugural dialogue, along with the EEAS and the EU Commission's services, with a next meeting scheduled for 3-4 May 2017 in Brussels during European Youth Week.

A new cooperation framework announced by the Anna Lindh Foundation and the European Youth Forum to support the expansion of Young Med Voices Plus including a large-scale mapping exercise to inter-connect existing youth participation structures and platforms across Europe and the MENA region. The new framework will be central to establishing, by 2020, the first regional platform of its kind combining structured youth dialogue processes with virtual exchange and innovative networking initiatives aimed at reaching diverse and marginalised youth voices across the Mediterranean.

Finalisation of a new contract between the European Commission and the Anna Lindh Foundation to expand debate and dialogue skills capacity-building in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe - The contract with the Commission for “Young Mediterranean Voices” (2017-2020), valued at 3.2 million Euros, has also secured the financial backing of a consortium of partners including the World Bank Group, the Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), the Government of Finland, and the British Council. Facebook has also confirmed its collaboration on Young Mediterranean Voices through an innovative public-private participation aimed at challenging extremist discourses.

Announcement of EU collaboration on the first UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) - The EEAS to co-organise the “European consultation forum” for the 2250 Progress Study with the United Nations Secretariat and the Anna Lindh Foundation as member of the inter-institutional steering group for the Progress Study. The European consultation, scheduled for September 2017, represents the culminating event in a first a worldwide consultation process on the central role of youth in peace building, with the outcomes to be presented to the UN Security Council in January 2018.

Strengthening youth voice in EU Communications in the Southern Neighbourhood - The EEAS announced that its “Task Force South” (on outreach & communication to the Arab World) will have a strategic focus on reaching out to young people and amplifying the visibility of youth agency across the Mediterranean. A Strategic Communications Regional Seminar will be held in Tunis from 15-17 May 2017, bringing together communications staff and political officers from EU Delegations and Headquarters to streamline policy and communications actions. The Seminar, in which the Anna Lindh Foundation will be participate, will be a key opportunity to for EU Delegations to further develop their youth networks and look at creative ways to place young people at the heart of EU communications in the region.