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When the Mediterranean youth takes the lead

A YPARD Delegation of young professionals from the southern and northern mediterranean region was invited by the GFAR to participate to the 4th Mediterranean Congress 2015: Rural Communities, No Longer Left Behind, in Milan, co-organized by the Fondation du Dialogue Sud-Nord Méditerranée. In no time we gathered 17 young people from 11 countries (from both north and south), with 50% of young women.

Youth’s active engagement at the Mediterranean congress

The young participants organized themselves so that they be represented in each of the congress’ sessions. A bigger group joined the youth session, which they also facilitated and co-chaired. After reviewing the challenges and opportunities of the rural youth in the mediterranean region (north and south), the inter-generational team had to identify some key statements to respond to these, some aligned calls for actions and to seek for clear commitment from participants in a collective effort. The outcomes of the discussions were eloquently reported at the closing session by a youth delegate.

From discussions to actionable commitments

The group committed to getting to know the congress’ participants more in order to create rapports and to build the foundation for strong partnerships - we can’t commit with people whom we don’t know enough about. Three other commitments were made based on what those partners represented could offer as expertise and capacity.

To respond to the need to make agriculture and rural areas attractive, it was suggested to implement a Series of testimonials of young professionals and seniors’ insights on the role of youth in agricultural and rural development and the way we can create an enabling environment for them. Also a partner in Algeria proposed to launch meetings and spaces of exchange for young people, with other partners from the Congress, to understand youth’s aspirations and needs better. In addition, the participants committed to engage diverse stakeholders and young professionals in curricula development discussions.

Finally, because they recognize the central role of the youth in the mediterranean region, the “Fondation du Dialogue Sud-Nord Méditerranée” announced that they would create a youth committee within their structure so that youth ideas and perspectives be taken into account in the Fondation's discussions and decisions,

The end of the beginning for the YPARD Mediterranean delegation

The youth delegation itself assertively brought the idea of implementing a Mediterranean Youth Forum. Grounded on what they have learned from their experience at the Mediterranean Congress, their proposal would show how young people want dialogues to occur and what they want from it. Instead of senior people inviting young people into their discussions, young people would invite seniors for discussions, for sustainable futures.

Also, the team is working on the design of a Mediterranean series of testimonials of young people's success stories and seniors' insights on why they think it is important to empower the youth in agriculture and how concretely we can support them. Stay tuned, in 2016, or get in touch with us now if you would like to take part!

Some first stones were set to build up a stronger YPARD network in the Mediterranean region, notably in Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia. If you are from the region and would like to get more involved with YPARD, connect with us. Perhaps these words from Assem Abu Hatab, YPARD Egypt representative, as we met for the first time after a couple of years of online teamwork, would create the spark: "I have been involved in many initiatives and youth projects but I can feel that ‪‎YPARD‬ has something special. It has a lot of potential. At YPARD, you have a sense of belonging you don't feel anywhere else."

Have a look at some of the pictures of the congress on YPARD Flickr account.

Read also: Generation Now – No Longer Left Behind, by Thomas Price, Senior Officer, GFAR Secretariat