Africa Europe Week 2022 – Youth Consultation and High-level event on the future AU-EU Youth Lab

 

The EU@AU Delegation organised, together with the AUC Youth Division, a hybrid youth consultation on the future AU-EU Youth Track Programme 2022-2025 (the Lab 3.0), immediately followed by a high level event on the Lab.
The high-level event was be a unique opportunity to bring together young people and leaders to reflect on the activities and lessons learned since Abidjan 2017 and to ensure political support for the new programming.

Youth Consultation

on the Lab 3.0 

The Youth Consultation on the Lab 3.0 and the High-level event organised in the framework of the Africa-Europe Week were a great success!

 

The Youth Consultation began with words by Ambassador Birgitte Markussen, EU Delegation to the AU followed by Prudence Ngwenya, Acting Director Women, Gender and Youth Directorate.

 

Ms. Ngwenya stated that “duty bearers must create a conducive environment to unleash potential of young people” and described the previous steps of the Youth Track with the AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative and AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub. She introduced the future Lab, calling for “bold actions for youth engagement and development in Africa and Europe”.

 

The remarks were followed by an introductory video regarding the history of the Hub.

The Youth Consultation on the Lab 3.0 and the High-level event organised in the framework of the Africa-Europe Week were a great success!

 

The Youth Consultation began with words by Ambassador Birgitte Markussen, EU Delegation to the AU followed by Prudence Ngwenya, Acting Director Women, Gender and Youth Directorate.

 

Ms. Ngwenya stated that “duty bearers must create a conducive environment to unleash potential of young people” and described the previous steps of the Youth Track with the AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative and AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub. She introduced the future Lab, calling for “bold actions for youth engagement and development in Africa and Europe”.

 

The remarks were followed by an introductory video regarding the history of the Hub.

 

Current Hub members Benjamin Mwape and Annette Sagri described their experience and shared some lessons learned from the past few years. Mwape emphasized the uniqueness of the Hub’s approach. “Youth are involved to innovatively conceive the ideas implemented and the Hub took a step further, active in implementation, and monitoring of projects. Youth should not just be consulted but given an opportunity to lead – thinking and acting together.”

 

The Hub’s digital Young Expert, Annette Sagri, was a champion of celebrating the Youth Hub’s success. “I want us to take a moment to celebrate what we did. We made it happen, we worked with CSOs, we brought innovative solutions to both continents.”

 

Thomas Huyghebaert from the EU Delegation to the AU virtually presented the timeline until the launch of the future Lab and the core ideas – to enable youth to support, interact, co-create and scale up solutions for African and Europe’s development challenges.“This will call on a multi-stakeholder partnership,” says Huyghebaert.

Attendees then joined break-out discussion groups and participated in an online Google Jamboard to gather the views of youth, the most common of which were then reported back to the AU and EU Delegations. 

High-level event on the future AU-EU Youth Lab

The High-Level event was moderated by Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union, Birgitte Markussen. Young experts, international leaders and Hub members took part in discussing the importance of youth in political discussions as well as the future of the AU EU Youth Lab 3.0.

The Hub’s Young Experts provided their recommendations for the future. Inge Meesak of the Governance cluster spoke on the importance of including youth in decision making – both within the Lab 3.0 and in all initiatives.

“Young people should have a role in the governance of the lab and their participation should be compensated,” said Meesak. She also emphasized that the definition of “Lab” is to experiment with concrete actions, calling for a think and do tank.

Oyewole Ogini of the Hub’s Peace & Security cluster, and previously member of the Youth Plug-In Initiative, pointed out the critical need to “harness youth, power, ability, prowess, technicalities and potential to scale innovative ideas.”

 

The Youth Special Advisor to EU Commissioner Urpilainen, Bitania Lulu spoke on her desire to see research within the Lab, and to assist with evidence-based policy, advocacy and project improvement. She emphasized the need to engage youth meaningfully and not passively, seeing them be active in decision-making, helping to monitor, modify and improve projects.

Inge meesak
Inge meesak

This second session was kicked off with welcoming remarks by Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships. This was a highlight of the event as Commissioner Urpilainen had kind words to say about the Hub.

“Particularly inspiring is the work of these 50 young people in several projects. The Hub’s results speak for themselves,” said the Commissioner. “Today we continue to put youth in driving seat with this event celebrating the end of the youth hub and start of the lab” she said. “Youth are the present. Today, youth are at the heart of our work, to create a forward-looking partnership between our two continents.”

Inge meesak
Inge meesak

We had the privilege of having Youssou N’Dour, minister and presidential counsellor of Senegal, musician, businessman and politician, and Hub ambassador attend and speak virtually. He pushed everyone to do more and empower youth. “We must do much more, accelerate the rhythm, go much faster,” he said. N’Dour joined the AU EU Week cultural festivities in person a few days later.

“The voices and prospects of young people should be at the heart of the Africa-Europe partnership and everything we do,” said Tijmen Rooseboom, Dutch Ambassador for Youth. “We must invest in youth as partners and leaders, involving them at all levels, such as decision-making and monitoring.” Ambassador Rooseboom was a strong advocate for including youth at all levels of decision making at the Lab 3.0.

 

Chris Dixon, Head of Public Benefit at Vodafone Foundation said, “the value of youth participation is clear, there is no debate,” and emphasized the need to reach equity in digital technology to enable participation, “equipping young people with the skills to shape the digital world we are living in and enabling young people to move from learners to co-creators.”

The event left us feeling empowered and optimistic for the future of the Youth Lab 3.0. We can’t wait to see how the Consultation impacts youth involvement in decision making on all levels and the future Youth Track Programme of the EU and AU for 2022-2025.