On 29 June, the Civil Society Organisations' Group (Group III) held a webinar entitled Youth in the post-war reconstruction process. The webinar was organised in the context of the European Year of Youth 2022 and moderated by Group III Member Katrīna Leitāne, who is chairing the EESC coordination group for the European Year.
The webinar brought together civil society representatives from the Ukrainian, EU-27 and European level, institutional representatives and citizens, so that three different dimensions of the topic could be discussed: the youth dimension, the institutional dimension and the European dimension. Participants also discussed new youth realities and looked at the role of youth organisations in the reconstruction process. In this context, speakers made concrete proposals on youth empowerment. The proposals will feed into the legislative work of the Committee.
President Séamus Boland opened the webinar by calling for youth and youth organisations to be given greater recognition and capacity in order to be effectively involved in managing current challenges. Mr Boland said:
Be it the war in Ukraine, climate change or the food and energy crisis, we need to listen to young people. This is why we recommended in our recent EESC resolution to encourage partnerships between EU and Ukrainian National Youth Councils and exchanges between young people and youth organisations from Ukraine and the EU. It was now time for young people to be given more responsibility and more trust to accomplish their aspirations.
Natalia Shevchuk from the Ukrainian Youth Council stressed the role of mental health support and the EU candidate status for the reconstruction process. The intervention of the 15-year-old refugee Anzhelika Saldetskaya demonstrated how dramatically the lives of many young people have changed since the beginning of the war.
Jaroslav Kurfürst, Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, said:
Ukraine will be a priority of the Czech Presidency. Ukrainians should be able to rebuild and choose their future themselves. Young people should have a say and role here. This is their future.
Group III Member Louise Grabo, who represents the National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations (LSU), stressed the need for secure and sustainable economic support for the resilience and capacity of youth organisations. This was supported by other speakers, one of whom was Catriona Graham from the World Scout Bureau. Ms Graham said:
Young people are out there, making changes in their communities. We need resourcing, recognition, trust and empowerment to ensure inclusion in the post-war reconstruction process.
A recording of the webinar is available at: https://youtu.be/kK04p98txyE