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Youth voice not heard in the Third Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization

01/07/2010
The Third Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization "Bridging Cultures, Building Peace" took place in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in May 28th and 29th which was preceded by the youth event that gathered around 140 young activists from all over the world. YEU was represented by Aga Byrczek, Education Working Group Coordinator, and Nela Sladojević, GB member whose project won the Global Solidarity Fund prize.

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is an initiative of the UN Secretary-General which aims to improve understanding and cooperative relations among nations and people across cultures and religions, and to help counter the forces that fuel polarization and extremism. As youth is identified as one of the key priorities of Alliance, we were invited to the forum to share our experience and youth opinion on various topics that were discussed during the forum. We were asked to prepare the youth recommendations to the world leaders in order to present them during the Forum Opening Ceremony, just after the opening words of President of Brazil Lula da Silva, Prime Minister Erdoğan of Turkey, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Sampaio, High Representative for the UNAOC. Although UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in his opening speech "We need to learn from youth", he didn’t hear our recommendations. Symbolically, the presentation was cancelled due to big delays in the programme and moved to the last day.

Although the youth voice was not heard enough, there are other benefits from this Forum. First of all I met amazing people from all around the world. I got interesting ideas for new project due to sharing experiences with others and I learnt a bit more how United Nations works. Moreover this Forum brought some outcomes that all of you can benefit from:

•    Expansion of the Alliance Fellowship Program, an exchange of young leaders between the Arab world, Europe, and the United States, which will take place in November 2010.
•    Announcement of the Alliance of Civilizations summer school,  “Bridging hearts, opening minds and doing things together” (Aveiro, Portugal, one week in August),  a multi-stakeholder initiative to celebrate the International Year of Youth.
•    Launching of the third round of the Youth Solidarity Fund, an initiative to provide seed funding to youth-led projects that promote cross-cultural understanding.

Aga Byrczek
Education Working Group Coordinator

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