by Marie-Ambrym Thivoyon ; translated into English by Claudia Bragman
From 29 November to 2 December 2012, around fifty young students and professionals from all around the world gathered for Youth Perspectives organised by GIMUN. This event was unlike the annual conference held in March where students speak as State delegates. In this case, Youth Perspectives gives each person the opportunity to express him or herself as an individual and debate on topics related to youth, using their own experiences. The theme of the event was « the role of young people in achieving the Millennium Development Goals » and the aim was to find concrete solutions for reducing poverty in areas of migration, voluntary work, social media and unemployment. Consequently, the participants were divided into four discussion groups of around twelve people who were supervised by two moderators.
The pleasant atmosphere did not detract from the debates
Aside from the discussion sessions, the atmosphere was relaxed. Participants came from European countries, such as Switzerland, Germany or Spain, but also from further afield such as Thailand, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Romania or Azerbaijan. The cultural diversity was much appreciated; it led to the discovery of new points of view and enriched dialog. Students were extremely interested by their topics. For example, it was very useful for a young German IT student to see how social networks operated on an international level, or for a Spanish individual in the committee on the economic crisis and unemployment, who is concerned by the situation in Spain. Most participants are MUN members in their own universities or had already participated in similar conferences. It was interesting for them to be able to give their own opinion instead of representing a country.
Indeed, once participants reached the workspaces, the debate became intense. Ideas were flying left, right and centre and the moderators had to intervene to produce a focused and harmonious discussion. All the participants took their mission very seriously and wanted to take this opportunity to express themselves and have a true impact. Various techniques were used: each participant could speak for 3 minutes, there were group reflection sessions, a debate without moderators, etc. The conference ended with a general assembly where each committee presented their conclusions and projects. These were then sent to the UN and various NGOs.
Volunteering to succeed: young people and the MDG
The “volunteering to succeed: young people and the MDG” committee suggested that a network of young UNV (United Nations Volunteers) ambassadors should be created. This would enable better-coordinated volunteer projects on a national and international level. It would also allow for partnerships to be formed with associations in order to promote volunteer work. The suggestions also included establishing an Internet platform and creating a centralised system for all volunteering opportunities on a local, national and international scale, as well as for testimonials and useful information for future volunteers. “Citizen journalism” and other original methods of volunteering were also emphasised. Such methods are accessible to people who do not necessarily have the opportunity or the means to go on site. Finally, this committee would like to encourage training volunteers and utilising their experience. It also suggested that programmes should be better adapted to volunteers’ ages and abilities.
Emigration and poverty reduction: looking with a fresh pair of eyes
The “Emigration and poverty reduction: looking with a fresh pair of eyes” group decided to create the « Everybuddy » project at a local level. This facilitates the integration of immigrants into their host country and, in the long term, would lead to a more tolerant society where everyone has a sense of belonging. A pre-existing association would manage the project; this would make it more credible and other organisations would be more easily accessible. The idea is to put young migrants into contact with other young people who are either from the host country or second-generation immigrants. It is a type of exchange system that develops friendly relationships between “buddies” and “host buddies”. Both individuals can teach the other about their own cultures. This allows the volunteer from the host society to help the young migrant to adapt to a new environment. The project would include information sessions and workshops on administrative, professional or community matters that might be relevant to migrants.. It would also include less formal social activities where both local volunteers and migrants can participate. A pilot project will be tested in Geneva and Zurich and will also be suggested in Lima.
The economic crisis and unemployment: young people have the answer!
The “Economic crisis and unemployment: young people have the answer!” committee wanted to create an online portal for young entrepreneurs. This would help reduce unemployment amongst young people by encouraging entrepreneurship. Both entrepreneurs and investors would be able to find useful information on the website in order to exchange ideas and savoir-faire. There would also be short videos to explain basic concepts and give advice. The participants aim to implement a pilot project before launching the second phase, which would bring the project into existence due to agreements with chambers of commerce, governments and investors and by recruiting volunteers. This is also a social project as it aims to encourage social entrepreneurship; that is to say initiatives that respond to social needs.
Social media: how can the Web 2.0 benefit the MDG?
The “Developing social media: how can the Web 2.0 benefit the MDG?” committee suggested ways in which the Internet could become more accessible. It also explained how the web could be used as a tool for direct communication between citizens and the government. The committee’s advice was to set up a model e-government platform that could be adapted according to how each State functions. The site would encourage citizens to participate on a political level. There would also be multimedia items explaining how the political system functions, an online information centre that brings together all the existing social media networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), online voting systems and administrative information. The committee also suggested another project: a network for NGOs. This would bring together volunteer associations; people could use the network to donate money; and there could be a forum for different NGOs. The third facet of the project is to create a society that trains people, companies and organisations to use the Web 2.0 in order for them to use it more efficiently.
All projects were approved during the General Assembly, which marked the end of the conference. Let us up that they will be carried out and that they will have a real impact on poverty reduction.