The 2010 CIVICUS Youth Assembly kicked off on August 18th at Concordia University, Montreal, with an opening plenary on ‘Bridging Across Generations: How Can Youth Be Part of the Solution?’. The theme for this year’s assembly was economic and climate justice, and development effectiveness. CIVICUS
is an international alliance formed with a mandate to strengthen citizen action at all levels of governance. The Youth Assembly gathered two days before the World Assembly to share knowledge and information in preparation for the events in the World Assembly. The assembly provided a transition for youth to become active in bringing out their passions and engaging them with meaningful dialogues.
One emerging train of thought brought out by the panel, including Ingrid Srianth, the CIVICUS Secretary General, and Jennifer Corriero, co-founder of TakingITGlobal was that this generation of youth has access to a fluid identity. Your physical location and where you are born does not define you wholly or does not form your identity to the same extent as it may have in past generations. Jennifer Correiro also commented on the critical point of youth transitioning and re-defining their identities. This plays a large part to the feeling of belonging and being able to express themselves in creative ways.
Samar Mezghanni, the Youth Assembly Chair, also commented on youth needing to take the next step and being disruptive to create the change they desire. She referred to this disruption as “soft-violence” to create waves of difference.
Rajiv Joshi, Outreach Coordinator for GCAP, also brought up some amazing examples of youth capacity when left to their own resourcefulness, with the ‘Hole in the Wall’ project in India. Finally, Deborah Kaddu-Serwadda, the Founding President of Empower Children and Communities against Abuse in Uganda, brought in her youth engagement perspectives through her experience with setting up her agency. She gave messages of advocacy and offered hope for youth. “Perceptions may exist in society but as long as you’re true to your vision and have a critical mass of people believing in what you’re doing, you should never give up”.
The CIVICUS Youth Assembly carried on these messages of inter-generational talks, with focused workshops on Economic Justice, Development Effectiveness and Climate Change. Each group delved into the youth’s perspective on how to make action more effective from the ground up. Kumi Naidoo’s talk on ‘The Impact of Climate Change’ earlier that morning also touched on the youth’s role on activism. One of the important messages we were left with was “We must act now, we must act together and we must act differently”.
One engaging video Naidoo showed the delegation was a spin-off to e-Harmony’s ads, called Polluter Harmony
Overall, the Youth Assembly brought strong messages of action, the youth want to engage, they want to push past the talking and be active. I believe this change can happen within the constructs of the assembly itself, by seeing more active positions and representation of youth within the World Assembly. I commend the words of motivation delivered to the youth delegates, but I also hope to see those words actualized into action by youth.
Check out videos from the Youth and World Assembly here