‘‘We reaffirm that by working together as sovereign partners, we are stronger and better placed to face the multiple crises and challenges of our times.’’ – Declaration of the EU-CELAC summit 2023
The motto of the EU-LAC Forum, “Partners in Change,” resonated deeply with us. It provided an opportunity for 60 young representatives from both regions to engage on the topics of the summit and bring a youth perspective to the discussions.. While it is regrettable that participation in the summit itself was not possible for youth and civil society actors and local authorities, the Forum sent a message that discussions should not take place about the present or the future without us.
It was in anticipation of the EU-CELAC Summit taking place on 17 and 18 July that the EU-LAC Forum was organised on 13 and 14 July. Its goal was to foster greater collaboration and deepen cooperation between both regions. Youth, civil society, and local authorities were given the opportunity to discuss and draft a series of recommendations ahead of the leaders’ meeting on how to build a sustainable and inclusive future for both sides.
The recommendations focus on topics such as youth inclusion, human rights, democracy, social, digital and green transition, peace and security, human development, or people-to-people connections. Framed in the priorities of the EU Youth Action Plan for External Action ‘‘Engage’’, ‘‘Empower’’ and ‘‘Connect’’, young participants during EU-LAC Youth Day drafted their recommendations for leaders and policymakers to follow.
Nevertheless, their desire extends beyond merely viewing this forum as an “inclusion washing” endeavour that engages youth in decision-making processes. Instead, they will eagerly and closely monitor the follow up and implementation of their recommendations:
- Create a network of youth from the EU and LAC regions;
- Guarantee the political participation and advocacy of children and young people;
- Facilitate access to funding and skills development for small youth organisations, enterprises and businesses;
- Ensure access to quality and intercultural formal and non-formal education;
- Promote youth employment, strengthen social security systems, and uphold the dignity of retirement;
- Promote education on mental health and proper health care;
- Collaborate and promote accountability, oversight, and climate justice by improving environmental standards and monitoring processes;
- Real mobilisation of funding for climate action;
- Promote the use of technology to improve government accountability, social inclusiveness, and collaboration;
- Protect and promote respect for Human Rights and establish exchange tables about the main learnings and experiences from existing mechanisms;
- Boost the support to mobility programs for students, volunteers, and young professionals; and
- Promote a safe environment for sharing cultural diversity and shared histories.