Saturday, August 9, 2008



I was in Glasgow to attend the CIVICUS Youth and World Assemblies from June 16th-21st, 2008. The theme this year was “People, Participation and Power” and the organizers focused on creating a space to develop and commit to action internationally. During the course of the event, the delegates and I had a chance to learn about some of the most pressing social justice issues around the world and we then focused on capacity-building activities to respond to these issues and develop important skills. The program was very interactive and it was an incredibly enriching experience for me. I had a chance to meet wonderful people who are involved in social justice movements in their own countries, and was also able to talk to them about how they can use E-glo to enhance their work.

On Day 1:
The event opened with a dinner at the Ferry, where we were welcomed to Scotland by the Minister for External Affairs, Europe and Culture Linda Fabiani, as well as by the Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, John Loughton (also the winner of last year’s edition of Big Brother in the UK.) The keynote speaker was Waheed Saleem, who is the UK Sustainable Development Commissioner for Young Poeople and Education.

On Day 2:
The Youth Assembly officially started with an introduction to the program as well as a speech by the former First Minister of Scotland, Jack McConnell, who talked about his civil society engagements and why it is important to play a role in making change for the better. He was also joined by Kumi Naidoo and Ingrid Srinath, who are the outgoing and incoming Secretaries General of CIVICUS, respectively. After their introduction, we were divided into groups (I was group Blue!) and we moved to the various participation sessions. There were a total of 4 participation sessions, and we each got a chance to experience various “tools” to explore the four main themes of the conference: health, equalities, climate change and poverty. This was by far the most useful part of the Assembly for me. The aim of these sessions was to explore the importance of participation within the themes of the events, to get an idea of how many ways there are to get involved and how power structures play a role in influencing the outcomes of our involvement.

The tools we used were: Open Space Technology, Power Analysis, Role Playing/ Improvisation and the Margolis Wheel (also known as “speed dating”.) At the end of the day, the delegates met again during the second plenary to discuss the program for the next day and to sign up to a commission of our choice (one per theme.)

Day 3:
The next day, we focused on the question: “what should be the response by young people to the issues raised in the CIVICUS Assemblies?” in our respective commissions. In particular, we explored avenues where young people can take action, keeping in mind the points raised during the previous day. There were also invited guests who presented on the topic (I was in the Health group) After a Q&A period with the guests, we came up with a series of commitments. These were commitments that were included in the first plenary of the World Assembly.

The delegates met again during the third plenary, where Franziska (GYAN), David Wollcombe (Peace Child International), Ben Margolis (GCAP) gave a presentation on their respective organizations.

The BBC was also there to run a live radio session of its World Have Your Say program. The delegates got a chance to decide the topic for the debate (there was a lot of choice, and we ultimately decided to go with (“are we over-educated?”) that took place that afternoon. During the conference there were also two super-talented artists that worked on making some graphic representations during the plenary and participation sessions.

Another thing I also enjoyed was the chance to get to know many members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, who are very motivated and engaged young individuals. The Scottish Youth Parliament exists to give Scottish youth a voice at the national level and to inspire young people to make a difference in society by becoming actively involved in the processes of policy-making and development. Their model was particularly interesting for me because the question of how to involve youth and make sure that our presence in society is heard has come up several times during my time in Paris and in Rome, so I have lots to learn from the way they operate! I also spent some time connecting with some youth delegates. In particular, I enjoyed my talks with Joan Fellipe of Peace Child Brazil and member of ECYI. (we talked about e-GLO, among other things) and Elena Tabakovska, Executive Director of Blue Sky (a Macedonian youth organization).
It was also nice to spend some time with Ivana Savic and Filip Milosevic of ECYG Serbia during the event- we both enjoyed the CIVICUS pillows we were given and that led us into a very fun conversation about the ECYI promotional materials of our dreams! J

World Assembly delegates were given a USB key full of documents as well as some print resources I will bring back to Toronto for you. a. Charter for Rural Communities- The Final Report of the Carnegie Commission for Rural Community Development b. Futures for Civil Society- Summary (UK, Ireland)
c. Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society- Insights from Young People (attached)
d. Scenarios for Civil Society (UK, Ireland)
e. Scottish Council for Voluntary Organizations- Annual Report 2007
f. The Shape of Civil Society to Come (UK, Ireland)
g. various WITNESS flyers
h. Empowering Young People

I also have various summaries of these reports and a list with more information about the “tools” we used during the Youth Assembly on paper. If you want them just let me know J