Business Community Development

“More participatory, relevant and effective”: EU launches Team Europe Youth Sounding Board in Zimbabwe

EU Ambassador Timo Olkkonen

The European Union has stepped up its engagement with young people by launching the Team Europe Youth Sounding Board in Harare yesterday.

As part of the ground-breaking initiative, 25 young women and men were selected to participate in the development and monitoring of the EU’s 2021-2027 Multi-Annual Indicative Programme including financing of joint initiatives with the Member States as Team Europe in women empowerment and climate-smart agriculture. The Youth Sounding Board will also allow young people to have an influence on EU development cooperation in Zimbabwe helping ensure that EU action is more participatory, relevant, and effective for young people.

Speaking at the launch, EU Ambassador Timo Olkkonen said: “We decided to act swiftly and decisively towards the establishment of the Youth Sounding Board in Zimbabwe, where youth constitute the majority. Our engagement with young people will make EU action more participatory, more relevant to youth, more effective as we will design actions that really support young people, and will help to empower the youth to speak up.”

The EU in Zimbabwe is the first Delegation worldwide to establish a Youth Sounding Board, following a global call by the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, who said at the launch that “it’s time to bring young people to the decision-making table”. The Team Europe Youth Sounding Board is composed of 14 young women and 11 young men between the ages of 19-29 who have knowledge and experience in issues related to EU cooperation in Zimbabwe: governance and human rights, gender equality, youth inclusion, climate change, agriculture, natural resources management, health, sustainable livelihoods, food and nutrition, and other relevant fields. They are representing Bulawayo, Harare, Matabeleland South and North, Mashonaland East, Midlands, Manicaland, and Masvingo.

“As a Zimbabwean youth, I have always believed in the power of using our voices for a much greater purpose. To be given this opportunity to pioneer such an initiative as the EU Youth Sounding Board, a programme that promises great impact in society, is a dream come true”, said Ayanda Candice Sibanda, a Youth Sounding Board representative.

With over 1.8 billion young people in the world today, 90% of whom live in developing countries, where they tend to make up a larger proportion of the population, the EU is committed to working better for and with youth in Europe and the world. In its June 2020 Conclusions, the European Council stated that “young people are important change-makers and essential partners in the implementation of the European Consensus on Development, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change and recognise their creative and innovative potentials and abilities.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende