EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Forum “Partners in Change”: A recap with the Young Opinion Leaders
The EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Forum: Partners in Change recently took place in Brussels (Belgium) on July 13th and 14th, 2023. With an emphasis on youth participation, the forum aimed to provide a platform for young people, civil society organizations, and local authorities to exchange ideas and contribute to shaping a sustainable and inclusive future for both regions. The event was organized by the Directorate-General for International Partnerships (INPA) as part of the EU-LAC Days, a series of side events leading up to the EU-CELAC Summit to take place on July 17th and 18th, 2023.
Young Opinion Leaders and the #OurVoiceOurFuture Campaign
In collaboration with the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Cultural Relations Platform extended a special invitation to five Young Opinion Leaders from Latin America: Francisco Vera Manzanares (Colombia), Julieta Martinez(Chile), Ricardo Pineda (Honduras), Gladys Ardón (El Salvador) and Tomas Fenati (Argentina). This initiative was part of the #OurVoiceOurFuture campaign, which recognizes the remarkable efforts of young individuals in addressing pressing global concerns. The selected Young Opinion Leaders played an active role in the “EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Forum: Partners in Change”.
Participation and Impact
The Young Opinion Leaders, alongside two invited GCRP alumni (Monserrat Fuentes Romero and Diego Aparicio), engaged in various plenary sessions and panel discussions throughout the Forum, focusing on critical topics such as inequality, education, health, culture, gender, youth, human rights, democracy, sustainable economy, and digital transition. By representing their respective countries at the EU-LAC Youth Forum, they joined forces with over 50 other young participants to formulate recommendations for the Heads of State and Governments from the EU and LAC regions.
Engaging with Prominent Figures
The Young Opinion Leaders, invited by the Cultural Relations Platform, were provided with the unique opportunity to voice their concerns directly to policy makers, including EU Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen and HR/VP Josep Borrell. They discussed pressing issues like climate change, inequality, access to education and healthcare, as well as youth employability. Additionally, the Young Opinion Leaders immersed themselves in the EU institutions by visiting the House of European History, learning about the EU’s functioning at the European Parliament visting the Parlamentarium, and attending two Latin American short movies about climate sustainability as well as “Nudo Mixteco” from Mexico at the Cinema Galleries in Brussels.
The Impact of the Experience
Taking part in the EU-LAC Forum as a Young Opinion Leader was, according to the participants, a transformative experience. The opportunity to engage with key decision-makers and share their perspectives on crucial global challenges left a lasting impact on their outlook. Their journey was not only educational but also provided valuable cultural exchanges and networking opportunities.
The EU-LAC Forum held in Brussels showcased the importance of youth participation in international exchanges. As we move forward, it is vital to continue fostering opportunities for youth engagement, as they are the driving force behind a better future for both Europe and Latin America. The Cultural Relations Platform stays committed to further engage young voices in all its activities worldwide.