Empowering young advocates in shaping international decision-making processes

The awaited University on Youth and Development 2023, took place from 18 to 23 September at CEULAJ. Facilitated by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, 19 Scouts and Guides coming from 11 countries joined youth-led organisations, international youth platforms, and institutions from around the world in the city of Mollina, in Spain.

The theme for this year’s event is “Young People, Peace, and Climate Change,” addressing the critical issues of our time. The program explored the intersection between peace, climate action, and youth engagement, emphasising the role of young people in advancing factors of positive peace in relation to the environment.

Key topics and questions discussed during the 2023 University on Youth and Development included:

  • The role of young people in advancing factors that build positive peace in relation to the environment.
  • Mechanisms to enhance capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management, with a focus on youth and women.
  • Addressing misperceptions and stereotypes about young people’s meaningful participation in global governance addressing climate change.
  • The role of youth in combating corruption and bribery as part of climate change action.
  • The contributions of interregional youth cooperation in strengthening an equitable approach to the fight against climate change.

Eight partners were selected for their expertise, resources, and commitment to empowering young leaders for a more sustainable and just world: the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub, DYPALL Network, European Youth Forum, European Youth Information and Counselling Agency, Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions, The International Falcon Movement– Socialist Educational International, United Nations Development Programme, and the World Organization of the Scout

The opening ceremony on 18 September gathered 240 participants, and featured distinguished guests such as David Veloso Larraz, the General Director of the Spanish Youth Institute (INJUVE), Tilemachos Boni, member of the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe, Milosh Ristovski, Secretary General of the European Youth Forum, and Thaïs Leray, Team leader for Youth in the unit in charge of Youth, Education, and Culture of the European Commission DG for International Partnerships.

Participants gained insight into a wide range of advocacy techniques, from local to European levels. They also played a crucial role in crafting the Scouts and Guides’ Call to Action for the 2024 European Election. They’ll be instrumental in creating the European vision for change, not just in the upcoming 2024-2028 elections but also throughout the next term of the European Parliament.

The 22nd University on Youth and Development is a unique platform for dialogue, learning, and collaboration, uniting young leaders and experts to address the pressing challenges of our time. As youth continue to champion peace, climate action, and sustainable development, this event contributed to shape the future of our global agenda.

The UYD is an international youth event part of the iLEGEND III Joint programme co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe. The UYD is organised by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, in partnership with a number of youth-led and youth-oriented organisations who have the possibility to run their own activities (trainings, seminars, board meetings, etc.) within a dynamic and participatory context which encourages networking, cooperation and peer-to-peer education.