The EU Conference on Youth, Peace and Security created an inclusive and interactive space for all stakeholders to exchange and to make recommendations for the EU on promoting young people in peacebuilding, in partnership with the UN, other multilateral players, civil society, and young peacebuilders from across the world.
There is a broad consensus across the EU institutions about harnessing the potential of the biggest global youth population for conflict prevention and sustaining peace. This calls for concrete actions to recognise, support and strengthen the work of the young change makers and leaders of today and tomorrow, and for including them in decision making.
The peacebuilding partnership between the EU and young people should be built on shared responsibility and a shared sense of initiative. It is both for the EU and for young people to do more and contribute more to peacebuilding. Investment in youth-led peacebuilding needs to go hand in hand with young people organising and mobilising themselves to build a strong case for resourcing their actions.
Reaching out to and including the more marginalised and isolated young people in peacebuilding is a shared concern. In fact, youth can play a very important role in accessing the most vulnerable and exposed parts of society. This relates to the broader issue of working with, empowering and funding civil society and grassroots youth organisations and movements. The capacities of EU Delegations to work with young peacebuilders in partner countries should be put to better use.
However, it will remain indispensable that civil society acts as interface and multiplier to engage young people on the fringes of society and allow for scaling up their conflict prevention and peacebuilding initiatives.
Meaningful youth inclusion puts a premium on more targeted and more specialised ways for institutions to work together with young people on concrete issues, including peace and security.
The EU networks and communities of young peacebuilders represent important ways to forge dialogue between young people, which was highlighted by several stakeholders.
There is also a need to better exhaust and document the peacebuilding impact of EU programmes and initiatives targeted specifically on young people, such as Erasmus.
Through an interactive dialogue with young people, the HR/VP defined four main deliverables from the Conference:
continue to create open spaces for young people to come together, build long-term relationships and directly engage the EU;
expand the EU communities of young peacebuilders with youth from Asia and Latin-America;
work on translating some of the proposals put forward by young people into projects by the EU, or by partners’ governments or local authorities;
promote funding for youth work at all levels and pilot a youth consultation on thematic and country-specific EU policies.