Ambassadors for Structured Dialogue on YOUth European Federation for Intercultural Learning

An article by Ana-Lucreţia Nedelcu, Romanian Ambassador for Structured Dialogue on YOUTH in Prahova county 

Launched in 2014, the Romanian National Youth Forum now incorporates around 155 youth organizations from Romania. Its vision is to promote a better world in which young people can achieve their full potential and can contribute to a better future throughout direct and active participation in their communities. 

2016 represents the second mandate implemented by the Forum in Romania, for a series of 70 national youth leaders to become the ambassadors for their counties and promote the structural dialogue among young people and decision-makers.   

Why Structured Dialogue? Because it is a continuous process that brings together young people and policy makers to jointly discuss different themes, so that the opinions of young people are taken into account in defining the EU’s youth policies. There is a common process in which young people and decision-makers discuss and analyze issues that concern youth, their lives and future. 

Structured Dialogue is being organized into 18-month work cycles. Each cycle focuses on a different thematic priority, which is set by the Council of Youth Ministers. During each of the cycles, national consultations of young people and youth organizations are conducted in every EU country. 

In Romania, the National Youth Forum initiated the first ever project of this kind in 2014 – a national network of young people becoming ambassadors for their communities. The network is the most adequate way to promote social responsibility, active citizenship, opportunities for development and partnerships at all levels.  

The 5th cycle of the Structured Dialogue on YOUth started this year and lasts until June 2017. The topic of this cycle is “enabling all young people to engage in a diverse, connected and inclusive Europe”. The motto is “Ready for life, ready for society”. 

All over the country, young leaders – the representatives of: youth ministries, national/local/regional youth councils, youth organizations, youth workers, youth researchers or young people from all backgrounds are gathering and working significantly for implementing the structural dialogue in their regions. Each county has approximately 3 ambassadors working together or separate as to complete the consultation process.  

In Prahova county, the project started a few months ago and a first series of consultations and workshops took place with approximately 200 individuals (the project started in April 2016 and will end in June 2017). The project is called “The Prahova Active Citizenship Caravan - 2016” and it partners with the Prahova Community Foundation (a local institution that acts as a community catalyst for resources mobilization directed to social needs and issues). The project uses an innovative and complete educational method that gathers not only local consultations with youth (structured dialogue applied), but also an educational course on the theme of “active participation and citizenship” with basic concepts starting from the question “who am I as a social individual?” (democracy, politics, active citizenship, youth empowerment/engagement, the need of specific lifelong competences, laws concerning youth, voluntary work inside communities, European laws and values, Youthpass certificate, etc.). Along with the theoretical part, the workshops are focused on: consultations on youth local issues and solutions to identified problems, working and debating on Youth National Law (350/2006) and its necessity for amendments and change according to present European frame (Europe 2020 – a European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth) and consultations on the European questions addressed at the European Youth Conference within the Trio Presidency of the EU Council  consisting of the Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta. The dynamic approach to having such a complex and complete project based in the southern Romanian county came from the necessity of having an educational perspective outside the classic system (through non-formal education methods), where we encounter the lack of practical and real life themes and subjects. This initiative has been applauded by all the people involved (young people who appeared extremely enthusiastic, teachers, citizens, media, partners)

All the national ambassadors are having several initiatives prepared and ready for implementation. The process will be active and committed to success until June 2017 when new call will be launched for a new series of youth leaders. 

This empowering approach towards young people is absolutely and significantly necessary for society as a whole, as youth represents the first resource of each society in every part of the world. Without the voice of youth, progress hardly ever happens. Societies need innovation, new approaches and visions that can lead them to a better and sustainable future. 

The problems identified are varied, from the need for innovation in educational system to climate change and environmental protection,  labour market, justice and social inequality. All of the issues identified correlate to the 17 United Nations sustainable development goals that need to be taken into consideration and worked upon by every country of the world

At European level, the Structured Dialogue on YOUth represents the first step towards resolving an issue. Communication starts from local level, going to the national level and European level, and coming back into the regional territories in the form of new reforms concerning the identified problems and solutions proposed.   

In Romania, the National Youth Forum implemented the project in partnership with the European Commission, Erasmus+ program and the National Ministry for Youth and Sports. 

If you were or are an Ambassador/Leader for Structured Dialogue on YOUTh in your own country, please share your experience with us! We are looking forward to connect with other countries on this particular theme and exchange ideas and information with youth leaders.