Young people on the move - a low hanging fruit?

Young people sit on a stage at the Agadir meeting.

Global Forum on Migration and Development - Agadir 21-22. June 2018 - Reflections

From the 21.-22. June, I have attended the GFMD thematic workshop (organised in the partnership with UNICEF) in Agadir, as one of 13 young delegates (from more than 10 countries of origin). The aim of this conference was to discuss issues that concern the migration of children and youths and to find sustainable and durable solutions to them in the context of the GCM (Global Compact on Migration). For that representatives from governments, NGOs and other organisations came together. The discussions ranged from discussing problems in the provision of basic services, especially in acute and emergency situations, education of migrants and recognition of documents and diplomas, the safe movement of young migrants and support on migration routes (e.g. health care, service centres, help with navigation, protection from traffickers etc.), integration and participation in the host communities as well as the problems faced by children left behind and migrants of the second generation. Aspects that came up in the negotiations were legislation, financial aspects and funding, role of aid and independency, coordination of different stakeholders etc. The key words that repeatedly showed up where: security, stability, opportunity and perspective.

It became quite evident that we have to start revolutionising how we perceive and handle migration. We have to start combining knowledge, creativity, skills and expertise in order to really find durable solutions. It is important that we accept that there is not one solution to migration. Migration has to be tackled on many levels parallelly using different formats. In the discussions, I often had the feeling that the different representatives where trying to defend and even advertise their approaches (ranging from root work to changes in policy) and institutions. We should be at the point where we should actually be discussing how we can combine different approaches. Migration needs many solutions - policies without groundwork will not work and the other way as well. We have to stop working together as separate entities. We have to start working together. With “we” I mean young people and adults. Host communities and Migrants. Professionals and the general public. We have to augment as many impressions, stories, ideas, knowledge etc. as possible. This collaboration requires an eye-to-eye dialogue, respect, trust, support and interaction.

Furthermore, living in a very pivotal global moment we should not fear or let us be intimidated by innovation. Innovation and new creative solutions, as well as resilience and flexibility, will be essential in approaching global problems and conflicts including migration. Entrepreneurial and skills education should be a right that is fostered. We should maybe approach some topics with the attitude that definitions are only fictions and that there is actually no box that we have to think outside of. As Walt Disney said, “First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally dare.”

Another important point that I brought into the discussion and that I hope will be considered in the following negotiations up to Marrakesh were the compact will be finalised, is that we must to start reaching out to those that do not share our ideas and visions. We need to talk to those that fear migration. Instead of judging them for their stand-point we have to try to understand them and include them in our discussions. These discussions will not always be easy and beautiful. On the contrary they will be hard. But starting this dialogue will also be enriching as conflict should not always be seen negatively and as something that we should try to circumvent. Conflict can potentially mean engaging more people and thereby the collection of new ideas and perspectives that finally can lead to change. This confrontation and communication with not-likeminded has to start on an individual level, expanding to a regional, national and international dimension.

The special thing about this conference however was that young people were actually actively included in the process. As Ted Chaiban (programme director of UNICEF in New York) said: "Nothing about young people without young people". Besides participating as youth-speakers at the different panel discussions we had the opportunity in a two-day pre-workshop to prepare a youth-led secession in the conference. We decided against the typical frontal presentation and for an interactive portrayal of our reflections on the topic of integration, education and youth participation. As formats we decided on a play, a presentation and a panel discussion. The reactions were positive right through - the official representatives were astonished about our stories, our perceptions and most importantly our solutions. Further individual discussions followed around dinner and lunch. This provided space for youth participation should now be nurtured and anchored.