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UN General Assembly 2017: Anna Lindh Foundation and Club de Madrid call for enhanced investment in youth agency to achieve Agenda 2030

New York, 19 September 2017 -  Intergovernmental policy-makers from both the European Union and United Nations took part today in a high-level policy event co-organised by the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid and the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation. Taking place on the margins of the 72nd UN General Assembly, the policy debate focused on the critical nexus between counter terrorism, development and Agenda 2030.

Delivering a message for the opening of the high-level debate, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the initiative and underlined that it was essential to consider how “security and development go hand in hand”. UN Secretary-General Guterres also highlighted the importance of focusing the global agenda on sustainable peace, “more than security alone”, and that inclusive and sustainable development was the best tool to combat the violence of exclusion and address the root causes of conflict.

Élisabeth Guigou, President of the Anna Lindh Foundation referenced the Secretary-General’s emphasis on prevention and the importance of “investing in the upstream to give more space to civil society and the youth sector to address the root causes of negative trends”. Presenting in New York the Foundation’s latest Intercultural Trends research, President Guigiou highlighted that investment in youth-led initiative and education is perceived as the best response to conflict and radicalisation. According to the trends survey, carried out by Ipsos-MORI with 13,000 citizens, more than 80% of respondents south and north of the Mediterranean consider that education and youth programmes that foster youth-led dialogue initiatives would be the most efficient mechanism to prevent and deal with conflicts.

President Guigou also drew on the concrete example of “Young Mediterranean Voices”, the regional debate programme under expansion across the Euro-Med region: “Young Med Voices provides a platform for youth to engage directly in policy-making processes, strengthening young people’s capacity to be active actors and facilitators of intercultural dialogue […] It gives young people a sense of belonging, of shared identity, and values that directly contribute to enabling them to become agents of positive change and social transformation."

Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, underlined how Agenda 2030 presented the first global blueprint to address these challenges together and that there was need for a “more joined up approach on sustainable peace and development actions, and strengthening financial support for peace and security”. Commissioner Mimica praised the work of “Young Mediterranean Voices” that was receiving high-level EU backing to expand its impact in the coming years, stressing that “we need to emphasise the central role of young people as powerful agents of change and in strengthening resilience”.