Millennium Youth

Millennium Youth

World Vision Brussels & EU representation

Young people engaging in the universal sustainable development agenda 2015-2030.

Contact | Website

Target countries: Ireland, Latvia, Lebanon and Zambia
Start date and end date of the Action: 1 April – 31 December  2015
Names of Co-applicants in the Action: Baltic Regional Fund; National Youth Council of Ireland

The Millennium Youth project stimulated the active interest and involvement of young citizens in EU Development Cooperation, particularly in two Member States, Ireland and Latvia, through including voices of youth from the Global South to enhance their common understanding of the shortcomings and achievements of the MDGs and the potential and challenges of the new Global Post 2015 framework.

8 schools and 4 youth clubs in Latvia and Ireland participated in development education and communication training around development education, the EYD2015, the MDGs and the Post 2015 framework, organised various youth friendly competitions and selected youth by an outreach and self-selection process and online competition to represent them in a high level panel debate on the opening day of the European Development Days (EDDs) in Brussels in June 2015.

Within the Millennium Youth project, 9 young people from Ireland, Latvia, Lebanon and Zambia participated in the EDDs on the basis of the interest they displayed in development issues and the new SDG framework. Eight of them participated in a preparatory process which gave them a more in-depth understanding of the global SDG framework and its implications for young people. They also gained social media communication skills and a greater understanding of the different perspectives of young people from the Global South and North in relation to development issues. During this process, the youth were also involved in preparing content for a Millennium Youth video (159 views) which was finalised and shared online following the EDDs in June 2015:

The organisation of the EDDs’ high level panel debate involved close collaboration with other European civil society organisations working on youth engagement with the SDGs including the European Youth Forum and SOS Children’s Villages. Finally, 11 young people – the 9 Millennium Youth Ambassadors, a young delegate from Albania for SOS Children’s Villages and a young delegate from Brazil as a part of the “Future Young Leaders” programme of the European Commission – took part in the high level panel “Young people engaging in the universal sustainable development agenda 2015-2030” presenting questions and recommendations to three leading figures representing the UN, the EU and EU Member States: UN Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi, Chair of the Development Committee for the European Parliament Linda McAvan and Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma. The exchange was moderated by a representative of the European Youth Forum and attracted an audience of 250 people. The debate contributed to a much greater understanding on the part of these high-level decision-makers and the audience present of the benefits and challenges of engaging youth in SDG implementation, and of the responsibility of EU and international institutions to try to ensure that youth are fully involved in implementation of the framework. The EDDs’ organisation published a video “EDD15 – Replay – Millennium youth” about the panel debate (536 views):
The Millennium Youth Ambassadors were also able to actively participate in other panel discussions, workshops and lab sessions held during the EDDs on Disaster risk reduction, resilience, climate change adaptation: Connecting the dots; and Accountability advocates: Youth voices at the heart of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, among others, ensuring that the perspectives of young people were considered. In addition, the Irish Youth Ambassadors had a meeting with the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU to discuss the Millennium Youth project, the experiences of the Youth Ambassadors, the SDGs and youth participation. Another positive meeting was organised at the European Parliament with MEP Deirdre Clune’s staff to highlight the importance of active youth engagement.

Following a de-brief, the Millennium Youth returned to their countries and actively engaged with their peers through social media in order to inform them about the new SDG framework, and also attended and spoke on the SDGs at related public events. The participants to the project widely shared their work and activities online, using #SDGsYouth.

In Ireland, 3 feedback meetings took place whereby each of the three Youth Ambassadors reported back to their respective organisations – Scouting Ireland, YMCA Ireland, and Youthwork Ireland. A training on the SDGs and the importance of involving young people also took place as part of this feedback with YMCA Ireland. One of the Youth Ambassadors spoke at ‘Making Rights a Reality: How the post-2015 agenda will shape the lives of children and young people’ – run by the Coalition for Children’s Rights in partnership with the Children’s Rights Alliance and the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) and attended by 70 young people, staff, policy officers, academics, and programme officers. The Millennium Youth project was showcased at ‘Connect for Change’ – an NYCI and UNICEF Ireland Youth Networking Event involving eight organisations and 32 young people, some of whom expressed interest in becoming involved in the project; and at Transition Year (School) Fair in Kilkenny, where 6,800 students and 300 teachers from 180 Secondary Schools around Ireland visited the showcase. ‘Change the World: Youth Summit on the SDGs’ also included inputs from the Millennium Youth Ambassadors to an audience of 400 young people, teachers of 9 schools, Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs, Central Statistics Office, youth political parties, NGOs and youth workers. The speakers included among others MEP Brian Hayes. The Ambassadors reported from the Youth Summit on national television. One of the Youth Ambassadors addressed a COP21 Climate March in Cork which was replayed at a Dublin event ‘Ways Forward: Considering the COP21 Agreement’ – Climate Conversation involving 350 people in a discussion and debate on what COP21 agreement means for Ireland:

Furthermore, a new Facebook MillenniumYouthIreland and @MillenniumYouth Twitter accounts were set up specifically for the project and social media trainings were organised for youth. Information was also shared via the NYCI accounts NationalYouthCouncil Facebook page and @nycinews Twitter account. A leaflet was created for the project to be circulated at public events and an educational resource ‘The Sustainable Development Goals and YOUth’ was written and published in hard copy (1,000 copies) and online. It was also circulated widely including to members of the Irish and European Parliaments and Ministers for Education and for Development. Millennium Youth mini grants (financed by other sources) were awarded to support 24 organisations and schools to take action on the SDGs, the EYD2015, and the role of young people at local level in 11 counties across Ireland. NYCI also ran Millennium Youth training in 17 venues in 6 counties across Ireland introducing young people and those who work with young people (formal and non-formal sectors) to the SDGs and the EYD2015. 2,552 people were involved (young people, youth work students, educators). Further expressions of interest for getting involved in the Millennium Youth project was already received from 4 other schools and project engagement with these schools took place before the end of 2015. To mark the end of the Millennium Youth project in 2015, the Youth Ambassadors attended the 60th Anniversary of Ireland joining the United Nations held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Speakers included Mary Robinson, Peter Sutherland, and Kofi Annan.

The project was very well linked in the activities of NYCI in 2015 and as a direct result of the success of the project and the demand for more from the beneficiaries/target groups, NYCI has secured additional funding to continue the project for the first quarter in 2016.

Upon returning, the Latvian Millennium Youth Ambassadors also continued to spread knowledge about the SDGs among their peers at summer festivals and in schools, through lectures, videos, discussions and educative games. In total, the Latvian Youth Ambassadors visited 4 festivals – Lampa discussion festival, Ludza and Preili City festivals and Youth festival in Jurmala – reaching approx. 500-700 young people (and adults) during the summer. They also visited 6 schools and 3 youth organisations across Latvia, giving presentations about the SDGs, showing the video of their visit to the EDDs and using educational material produced by Baltic Regional Fund (BRF) together with partners.

The Youth Ambassadors participated in the EYD Closing event organised by LAPAS – Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation in Riga raising awareness about the SDGs and the EYD2015, and playing educational games about development cooperation. In relation to high-level decision-makers reached, among others, a personal visit with Latvia’s Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma took place in September 2015.

The project reached several thousands of citizens via social media posts, online articles, and online videos on the SDGs, the EYD2015 and participation in the EDDs produced by the Youth Ambassadors, such as video “Millennium kids in Brussels” and other videos (in Latvian) below:

All these materials were shared online, via the BRF youtube account, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and showed during public appearances. The Youth Ambassadors had the opportunity to administer their own Facebook page concerning the SDGs and the Millennium Youth project in Latvia.

The Youth Ambassadors also reached other NGOs, on topics varying from youth and human rights to women’s empowerment and environment for example through an appearance of one of the Youth Ambassadors on NGO TV broadcast about the Millennium Youth project and through participation in Lampas discussion festival. One of the Latvian Youth Ambassadors even took part in an international online conference (google hangout) about Peace Building organized by the World Vision’s Brussels’ office.

The Millennium Youth project successfully brought the voices of young people to the fore during the official EYD2015 events and facilitated their opinions being heard in key public debates and events and enabled them to communicate with their peers through social media and to do effective advocacy around the Post 2015 framework in 2015 and in the future.