This post was contributed by Hussam Hussein, FoEME’s youth representative from Jordan and former intern at our organization.
“Youth should be given a change to take an active part in the decision-making at local, national and global level”
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon
From August 23rd to 27th, Friends of the Earth Middle East was represented at the World Youth Conference in Mexico, which focused on the role of youth in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The conference was organized in the framework of UN General Assembly’s resolution, adopted on the 18th of December 2009, proclaiming the year 2010 as the International Year of Youth; “The year has to be seen as an important opportunity to increase the youth participation and support inter-cultural dialogue and understanding among the youth of the world.” As Kofi Annan once said: “The youth are not only leaders of tomorrow but partners of today.” The world youth conference (WYC) took place from August 23-25 in Leon Guanajuato, Mexico. It marked Mexico’s 200 years of independence and 100 years since the Revolution; two important events in which youth had played a key role creating modern Mexico.
The main aims of the WYC were to achieve a declaration by governments identifying key actions for youth and development policies, to promote the establishment of a mechanism that will provide specific follow-up for the youth agenda in the UN system, to encourage dialogue between civil society organizations and governments on youth and development policies, and to share experiences and knowledge of youth and development policies, strategies and programs.
As FoEME’s representative, I participated in the Social Forum at which delegates from different countries representing different NGOs met to produce a document of recommendations. Twelve sub groups of youth discussed several issues regarding poverty, education, culture, justice and security, participation, sustainable development, international migration, and international cooperation, and other. The groups collected and peer-reviewed ideas for the declaration which was submitted to the Governmental Forum, existing of representatives from all UN countries.
I took part in the sustainable development group, where I transferred the ideas and experience of FoEME regarding cross border cooperation to enhance dialogue, trust, and cooperation between Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian communities, involving youth, through the environmental issues faced in the region. I shared with my fellow delegates the projects of FoEME, concerning awareness raising in the Jordan River Valley, the unsustainable agriculture that still persists in some areas of the valley, and the activities at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark. I strongly emphasized the necessity of the underlying importance of cross border activities, networks, and cooperation. These suggestions have been incorporated for instance in the 5th point of the Participation part: “Encourage international and regional interaction in all sectors of youth participation, and promote cooperation by providing appropriate support” and in Sustainable Development, 2nd paragraph: “Governments should develop a rights-based approach to participation, recognising young people as important actors at local, national, and international levels, while acknowledging cultural diversity.”
On Wednesday the Social Forum’s declaration has been submitted to the Governmental Forum, that has worked on a final resolution in the following two days taking into consideration the suggestions made by the Youth Social Forum. On Friday the Governmental Forum approved by consensus a final declaration with recommendations for governments on measures concerning youth and development, which will be presented at the General Assembly of the United Nations in September when the MDG issue will be discussed.
During the whole week, a global interactive forum where available to delegations, NGOs, and associations, in order to meet with people, interact, share experiences, exhibitions, etc. In this place, I took the opportunity to share with some groups of scouts, with some Mexican indigenous, and with Arabic journalists, including Tunis 7, the projects and activities of FoEME, as well as showing them some pictures I took in the Jordan River Valley in the last years.
In a nutshell, it could be said that this WYC was a great success. Many were the interactions with fellow delegates from all over the world that I shared my experiences with and from which I learned a lot. So working hard, but also Mexican fiesta and Mexican traditions, mixing work with pleasure times. Indeed a great success for the NGOs, for the youth, and for the world.