human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Young people taking a stand

in the field of migration and development

More than 30 young people and youth professionals from 17 countries participated in the MIND Youth Advocacy Online Training organised by Caritas Austria. The event was aimed at promoting and exploring the MIND Youth Advocacy Toolkit on global migration and development issues.

Despite difficult COVID-19 times, the Young Caritas Europa movement started 2021 by taking two steps towards a more just world and increased youth engagement. First, the MIND Youth Advocacy Toolkit was published, giving young people access to necessary knowledge on global migration and development issues and to very practical tools to take action. Second, young people and youth professionals spent three days exploring advocacy actions and learning how to organise themselves in an online workshop led by young people.

During the first day, participants were introduced to the ways in which global migration and development are linked. Luísa Fondello, International Cooperation Officer working in the Caritas Europa secretariat, discussed the definitions and many aspects of migration and development, the common misconceptions regarding the relation between them and how these misconceptions result in serious challenges in the EU and beyond. She also presented international partnerships and Official Development Assistance (ODA) as important tools to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). After proper dosage of knowledge, Tom Devriendt from Caritas Belgium shared with participants political strategies that are being used to address the challenges created by the described misconceptions. The participants learned about deliberation, lifestyle politics, grassroots alternatives, campaigns, strategic litigation, advocacy and education.

The second day was all about youth. Participants explored advocacy actions led by young people themselves. Veronica Winter from Fridays For Future in Austria started by telling her story – how she decided to act against climate change and why she believes this action is crucial. Participants learned about the critical situation of our planet and steps that are being taken to tackle climate change on the international level. She described how the global youth movement is organised and what values and principles are underpinning it, like decentralisation and non-hierarchy. She presented the demands of the movement and the strikes that are being organised by students all around the world. It was hard not to be impressed with young people organising themselves on such a big scale for our common home, for their future.

Then, Caritas Auslandshilfe Vorarlberg presented its youth action ‘Caritas Youth Ambassadors’ . This programme engages young people in organising awareness raising campaigns. They cover topics like the SDGs, ecology and contribute to  development initiatives in Ethiopia. Their actions address both other young people with the aim to educate and politicians. How do they do it? Through parades, workshops, exhibitions, artistic installations and musicals. Youth creativity has no end!

The training ended with a practical session run by Hans Wolters, who shared his long and rich experience in advocacy action. Participants learned how to plan advocacy actions, what to ask themselves during the planning phase, how to strategise and what mistakes to avoid. He underlined the value of cooperation and advised participants on how to incorporate the values of Caritas into their political engagement.

Caritas Austria, together with MIND colleagues, deserve a big thank you and congratulations for the successful event and inspiring publication. Hopefully we will see new youth advocacy actions arising soon as fruits of these initiatives.

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Agnieszka Zarzynska

Institutional Development Officer
Caritas Europa

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