A United Europe for a United World, Young Ideas change Europe
Duration: From December 2011 to November 2012
Key Words: Youth, Fraternity, Europe
Promoting organization: Focolare Movement Youth
Project summary: The first decade of this century Europe and the rest of the world witnessed a mixture of both worrying and inspiring moments, posing deep questions that require new answers. The Institutional Europe appears static, weak, disconnected from the people and indecisive, and euro-scepticism is on the increase. The “vision” seems to be fading. Is this because a European culture has not fully emerged at grass roots level, as a force capable of providing continuous input to the great project of “unity in diversity”, the true soul of Europe? What would be the main features of such a culture? We would like to explore this question. As the recent Nobel Peace Prize Assignation confirmed, the European project, with its 60 years of peace, is a source of inspiration for the world, and many emerging nations look to Europe as a guide for nurturing democracy. This seems to be the principle challenge among the many that Europe is facing, and is probably the key to providing answers to them all. The project was born to motivate our young people in this direction, to hear their ideas. They are the force for innovation that can build the common home, for Europeans, and for the world. If the political world fails to create synergy with the best resources in society, then less desirable ideologies may thrive.
In this context, “A united Europe for a united world – young ideas change Europe”, brought together civil society organisations from 24 EU members (DE, HU, IT, PL, PT, RO, UK, AT, CZ, LT, FR, IE, ES, SE, SI, NL,N, DK, CH, SK,BE, M,LV,BG), linked with the Focolare Movement and sharing its aims, promoting the direct involvement and participation of young European citizens (15-30 years) in civic life and decision-making processes. The project offered them a wide range of opportunities for participation, civic learning and trans-cultural collaboration both at local and international levels, in order motivate, empower and qualify them for European citizenship and commitment to democratic values. Activities also fostered discourse with EU institutions and relevant stakeholders bringing to their attention experiences, opinions and proposals of younger Europeans.
Implementation was based on a real bottom up approach starting with local activities in all partner countries, in order to sensitise participants for European topics and to mobilise them for active participation and leadership. They also received a platform for collecting, sharing an expressing their ideas and proposals in order to make new contributions to the public debate.
In order to ensure widest possible visibility, there was Internet transmission of the entire convention and a satellite broadcast of the final session. The partners also produced a project site www.genfest.org with blogs, twitter, chat rooms, social network, a brochure with key results (3.000 copies) and DVDs on the international convention in various European languages.
The central Themes Developed:
1 Creating awareness and knowledge of the processes of integration of the European Union and its policies, in order to act in an informed and responsible way: “Protagonists for the construction of Europe”
2 Exploring and spreading elements of a new cultural vision, based on the categories of solidarity and dialogue: “ A culture of fraternity”
3 Increasing the involvement of young people in civic life; enabling them to meet and dialogue with one another, in order to discover that they are the constructors of civil society and the developers of democratic societies. Organising meetings with the European institutions and bringing to their attention both locally and nationally, the reflections and ideas that have emerged from this dialogue, as a resource for promoting the culture of a united world among the young.
The project involved local events in all EU countries from January to August 2012, with the aim of creating awareness and involving as many young people as possible.
Main Event: Culminating point of the project was Let’s Bridge, in Budapest (HU), involving ca. 12,000 young people from all over the world, which reached many more through social networks, Internet and television broadcasts throughout the world.
Objectives: Overall objective of the project was to stimulate and promote the involvement and participation of young European citizens (15-30) in civic life through encounters and collaboration with peers from the EU and the world, making them discover that they are key players in building civil society and the growth of democratic nations. The project offered them a wide range of opportunities for participation, civic learning and transcultural collaboration both at local and international levels, which motivated, empowered and qualified them for European citizenship and commitment to democratic values. Young people were mobilised to collect and express their ideas and proposals since they are the innovative factor that can give a strong impetus for building the common European home, a home for Europeans, a home to the world. By this, the project fostered a sustainable culture of fundamental rights, intercultural dialogue, respect and tolerance among citizens and esp. among young people in the EU.
The project explored participatory practices, offering new contributions to the European public debate and enhancing the impact of EU policies in the lives of citizens. Activities also fostered discourse between citizens and EU institutions bringing to their attention experiences, opinions and proposals of younger European citizens making them driving forces on the path to a united world.
Cross-cultural learning, exchange and collaboration aimed to acquaint young people with their own culture and values and those of peers from other ethnic, social and religious backgrounds. This facilitated at the same time cultural awareness, respect and tolerance. Through transnational encounters, exchange and cooperation young people learned and experienced universal human, e.g. mutual respect, tolerance and understanding helping them to internalise the benefits of multiculturalism and diversity. Moreover, young people shall be empowered to better integrate the indivisible principles of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity into their lives and social contexts contributing to sane human development in European societies. The project helped to develop a new cultural vision based on solidarity and fraternity.
At institutional level, the programme supports and facilitates cross-community collaboration, exchange and networking between European NGOs – esp. at grass roots level – in order to enhance their role in shaping democratic and pluralistic European societies which better exploit the full potential of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.
The core event, an int'l convention in Budapest with 12,000 young participants will make specific reference to European policies and their impact on nowadays living, mainly in discussions and workshops on issues as European identity, active citizenship, social cohesion, sustainability, the challenges of immigration.
As consequence of the big impact of “A United Europe for a United World – Young ideas change Europe”, other Project are born. Especially the United World Project and “Sharing with Africa”.
For further details:
"Let's Bridge- Genfest 2012": UNESCO patronage of the big event in Budapest
Genfest 2012 is over. Now for Youth for a United World the "United World Project" is just beginning
pdf A United Europe for a united world - Some reflections by youth