The Young Mediterranean Voices (YMV) programme has trained more than 9000 young leaders from the Southern Mediterranean region and Europe. It has provided them with skills such as critical thinking and cultural intelligence, facilitated constructive online engagement and has been part in more than 600 intercultural debates and dialogues. The knowledge, experience and wisdom of Club de Madrid Members (CdM) – former Presidents and Prime Ministers of democratic countries – helped deliver high-quality training, debate and workshops. In these, the young participants had the opportunity to listen to valuable advice on how to address the challenges of creating democracy that delivers, shape media narratives and influence public policy. Through these efforts, participants developed their leadership skills to help them transform dialogue into concrete actions that contribute to developing their respective communities.
YMV focused on using debating and dialogue skills to help young people’s voice be better heard within the policy arena. It reaffirmed the core importance of developing debating skills, while at the same time responding to research findings that ‘debate is not enough’, by introducing aspects of the programmes that covered ‘shaping policy and media narratives’.
The strong backing for Young Mediterranean Voices from the 42 Member States of the Euro-Mediterranean process. It was also embedded in regional and sub-regional cooperation frameworks, including the League of Arab States-EU cooperation, the Africa-EU partnership and the ‘5+5 Dialogue’.
The widening of its partnership base to include multiple resourceful and influential partners, each of which added separate value to the YMV programme.
YMV skills helped to establish the voices of its alumni as clear and impactful in their communities, thus enabling them to pursue their professional career with
The project alumni took part in several CdM activities, such as its Annual Policy Dialogues and different Policy Labs during the course of the YMV project. This gave the youth leaders additional opportunities to engage with key political stakeholders on issues such as inclusive education, migration or digital technologies and democracy. It helped expand their networks and their ability to present and formulate their proposals and ideas.
The prominent role for CdM members in activities involving countries from the north and south of the Euro-Mediterranean region. This allowed for sharing messaging on the importance of building interregional dialogue to face common challenges and build consensus on issues of interest to all.
Research throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region indicates that young people feel disenfranchised from political, economic, social and cultural opportunities for participation. At the same time, they are being portrayed in the media – because they are unemployed – as being a burden on society or worse still, a potential threat to national security and stability, vulnerable to extremist narratives.
The programme sought to address key challenges for young people in the region by training young people in debating and dialogue skills. This would enable them to become young influencers in their communities and countries. By embedding debating and dialogue training into formal and non-formal education, it would ensure the sustainability of young people’s influencing capacity. In addition, providing young people with leadership and media training equipped them to better influence policy and shape media narrative on youth. The programme also provided opportunities for peer engagement in order to promote an intercultural dialogue and collaborative action between the two shores of the Mediterranean. The programme was co-funded by the European Commission (Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations), the Government of Finland, the Center for Mediterranean Integration and the British Council. It was coordinated by the Anna Lindh Foundation and developed in partnership with the Centre for
Mediterranean Integration (CMI), Friends of Europe, Club de Madrid (CdM), MEDAC and Soliya.
20 National Policy Dialogue and Debate Forums
Through the National Debates and the Regional Leadership Seminars, CdM members had opportunities to take part in intergenerational dialogues, addressing key elements such as the promotion of human rights, gender equality and good governance for developing a new vision for democracy. This helped highlight the importance of investing in youth. In the process, they reached 70+ high level stakeholders and national decision makers, and supported youth representatives in presenting over 20 policy recommendations and forming National Advisory Groups.
Youth voice and safe spaces
The project provided a safe space for debate for more than 9000 young people, one where they could exchange ideas, discover other cultures and learn from each other. This was thanks to the improved capacity of over 200 peer facilitators and over 30 master facilitators. These debates resulted in over 500 motions on issues that were important to young people.
Increase in women’s participation
In order to promote gender equality, the CdM offered equal opportunities for the women and men among its membership to take part in the YMV activities. It also offered the participants the opportunity to have an insight into the different styles of leadership, through the experience of Club de Madrid members in their tenures. Here, Presidents Vaira Vike-Freiberga (President of Latvia 1999-2007) and Tarja Halonen (President of Finland 2000-2012) took part in the Palestine National Debate Forum and the III YVM Regional Leadership Seminar, respectively. They contributed, among other issues relevant to the SDGs, their insights on gender equality. With an overall female participation of 58%, YMV demonstrated that gender empowerment is crucial to promoting a youth agenda.
Youth-led organisations’ capacity increased
Over 200 youth-led clubs and organisations saw increases in their institutional capacity in management, procurement, reporting and capacity building. Their digital skills were also enhanced through peer-to-peer capacity building and the redesign of the toolkits to meet the needs of, and specific factors affecting, youth (for example, difficulties with internet access in rural areas).