BYDC receives support from the President of the European Youth Forum (YFJ) and set to sign an MOU with Serbia’s National Youth Council (KOMS)
The recent Caribbean Youth Leadership Summit hosted by the Commonwealth Youth Programme provided a timely opportunity for leaders from national youth councils and other key youth organisations across the region to deepen and enhance their governance and democratic structures. The foresight of the organizers also saw the inclusion of the President of the European Youth Forum (YFJ) Mr. Peter Matjašic who added much value to the Summit through his insight and wealth of experience.
The YFJ acts as an umbrella body across Europe for national youth councils and is considered one of the leading and most powerful youth platforms in the world. Not wishing to pass up this unique opportunity for “dialogue and mutual understanding” as is the theme for the International Year of the Youth, members of the BYDC Executive took time to engage Mr. Matjaši?.
Peter expressed his pleasure at the work the BYDC has done over the last three years and reiterated the necessity of having a National Youth Council. For Peter, a youth council is a form of representation of young people through which youth express their voice and engage in community decision-making. He noted that a precondition of a healthy democracy is the active participation of citizens, especially young people, and a vibrant civil society sector, including a national youth council. “Such an organization is needed to address the needs of and defend the rights of young people in any given society at all levels.”
The YFJ President also stressed the need for a national youth council (NYC) or any such platform to be independently and democratically led by young people and not to be driven by political or other figures except for genuine encouragement and support.
According to Peter “…the BYDC must continue to see its role as empowering youth to get involved in the things that are important to them and have a say in decisions that affect them. The council’s attempts at capacity building for individuals and member organisations via training workshops and the provision of volunteer opportunities through its I-volunteer Programme must be kept up. Secondly as an NYC the BYDC must now more than ever see itself as an important stakeholder in structured dialogue with institutions and decision-makers; hence advocacy and lobby work to enable an independent youth voice to be heard as well as serving as a consultation body for institutions regarding youth issues must remain an important feature of the work of the BYDC.”
In addition to the welcomed support from the President of the YFJ the BYDC is also set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Youth Council of Serbia (KOMS). In a historical move KOMS was recently established after four years of hard work and vigorous lobbying by Serbian youth including its newly elected President Vukasin Grozdanovic himself a dear friend of the BYDC.
According to BYDC President Jason Francis the signing of the MOU reflects the fulfillment of a promise made to deepen both regional and international ties during his campaign for the BYDC presidency. “There is much to learn from our good friend Vukasin and his team, especially as it relates to advocacy, lobbying and programming. The linkages created both with the European Youth Forum and the Serbian National Youth Council will redound to the benefit of all Barbadian youth in one way or the next. Already we are looking at collaboration and information exchange regarding youth policy, programme development, organizational strengthening, joint training sessions and deepening historical and cultural understandings through visits and exchanges.”
Undoubtedly the experience of Peter Matjašic will also be of tremendous benefit as towards the end of the regional Summit the delegates discussed the real possibility of re-establishing a regional youth platform, details of which are expected to be revealed shortly.