The North-South Centre has been working on and with youth diaspora for more than 10 years through capacity building, policy development and funding initiatives with the vision of building more inclusive societies.
Youth diaspora is a key target group for the youth cooperation programme since they represent a valuable resource to tackle the actual challenges of the Council of Europe member states such as migration, social inclusion and active participation of young people in vulnerable situations.
Youth diaspora represent an immense richness for host societies since they bridge different countries, cultures and identities, fostering intercultural dialogue, supporting interregional cooperation and promoting social cohesion.
Taking into account the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe resolution 2043(2015) “Democratic participation for migrant diaspora”, the North-South Centre recognises the need of "engaging diasporas in decision making policies[….]to ensure economic, social and cultural development."
The North-South Centre’s action on youth diaspora follows three main areas: capacity building, financial support and mapping and analysis.
The activities are always designed and implemented in cooperation with key stakeholders from civil society and international institutions. In line with this multilevel cooperation approach, the North-South Centre contributed to the foundation of diaspora umbrella organisations, such as the African Diaspora Youth Network Europe (ADYNE) and the African Diaspora Youth Forum Europe (ADYFE).
The beginning: The 1st Africa-Europe Youth Summit
The North-South Centre’s work on youth diaspora was conceived in 2007, in the framework of the 1st Africa-Europe Youth Summit.
The Summit, co-organised by the North-South Centre, strengthened ties between young people in the two continents, increasing their participation in the Euro-African Cooperation processes.
The key role of youth diaspora was highlighted in the concept note of the event: “To recognise the diaspora as a resource for the proliferation of positive perceptions of different cultures, is one of the key ways to develop an open intercultural dialogue and to promote tolerance between European and African communities”.
Moreover, the regional youth consultations carried out before the summit gave emphasis on the participation of young people from African diaspora living in Europe in order to achieve a broad and inclusive process towards the Youth Summit.
The Africa-Europe Youth Summit took place in Lisbon in 2017, coinciding with the 2nd EU-Africa Heads of States Summit, a milestone event for the development of the Euro-African Cooperation. In that occasion, the launching of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy took place: a framework agreement that brought the Africa-EU Partnership to a new strategic level with strengthened political dialogue and enhanced cooperation at all levels.
Both the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership and the final declaration of the Africa-Europe Youth Summit recognised youth organisations and youth movements as relevant actors for the development of a sustainable cooperation among both continents.
The Youth Summit’s Final Declaration, drafted by the representatives of youth organisations from Africa and Europe, pointed out recommendations to governments and international institutions. A few of them were focused on youth diaspora, namely:
- To ensure support for the development of the structures and cooperation mechanisms of the African diaspora in Europe.
- To promote exchanges between the organisations of the African diaspora living in Europe.
Partnerships and Programmatic Framework
As a follow-up to the Africa-Europe Youth Summit in 2007, the North-South Centre has been developing and implementing several activities in partnership with key governmental and non-governmental actors in Africa and Europe, including the European Youth Forum, the Pan African Youth Union, the African Union and the European Union.
In November 2008, the Council of Europe and the European Commission (DG DEVCO) signed a three year Joint Management Agreement to support the Africa-Europe youth co-operation programme of the North-South Centre.
Through this programme, it was possible to follow-up and monitor the policy development of the Africa-Europe Youth Summit as well as to fund grassroot activities organised by diaspora-related youth organisations. This agreement was renovated in 2013 for another three years.
Complementary to the Joint Management Agreement, the North-South Centre established another agreement with the European Union-Council of Europe Youth partnership (a cooperation programme between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth) which enabled Euro-African training activities for youth diaspora from 2009 until 2011.
The youth organisations and youth groups from African diaspora living in Europe are important actors of the youth cooperation programme: Diaspora is considered by the African Union as the 6th region of Africa and the 6th building block of the African Union, and youth represent a major group of population both in Africa and in diaspora.
In 2016 a new agreement was signed with the European Commission: "iLegend" (Intercultural Learning Exchange through Global Education, Networking and Dialogue). The project strengthens global education in Europe having a strong focus on the Sustainable Development Goals. In this new project the role of diaspora youth is recognized.
Within this new programmatic framework, youth diaspora are seen as important actors to further develop global education and to enhance integration and migration policies in Europe. In light of this new social and political agenda, their role is crucial to explore global citizenship issues and to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through an inclusive and multi-stakeholder approach.
The training courses are organised in different locations across Europe and Africa every year since 2009. They target youth diaspora, young leaders from diaspora organisations and other youth representatives working on diaspora-related issues (migration, inclusion, intercultural dialogue, among others…).
Although every edition has a different focus and targets specific needs, the common objectives of all the courses are:
- To increase knowledge and competences for the developing of Africa-Europe cooperation activities, enhancing diaspora young people’s involvement in the implementation and monitoring of the Joint Strategy;
- To empower youth leaders from diaspora communities living in Europe on Global Education, in order to build a network of practitioners able to tackle issues related to global interdependence and global citizenship in different intercultural contexts.
- To strengthen active citizenship’s skills of youth leaders from the diaspora and promote their recognition as relevant actors for building inclusive societies in a context of increasing migration flows.
One of the first and most tangible outcomes of this capacity building scheme was the creation of the African Diaspora Youth Network Europe (ADYNE), by the initiative of several participants of the first training course held in 2009. From that moment onward, ADYNE - as umbrella organisation gathering more than 100 diaspora-related organisations - became the key partner of the training scheme, together with European Youth Forum and the Pan African Youth Union. More recently, former participants and resource persons of the diaspora training courses funded ADYFE (African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe).
The Seed Funding aimed at supporting pilot projects, networking initiatives and political participation of young people within the Euro-African youth cooperation framework.
It consisted od a grant allocation scheme which allowed youth leaders, youth workers, experts and trainers to participate in youth exchanges and other Euro-African Youth activities. Although it was a broader Euro-Africa cooperation tool, priority was given to projects presented by organisations from the African diaspora living in Europe or those targeting African diaspora.
This funding initiative resulted from one of the recommendations of the Youth Summit’s Final Declaration (2007), which advocated for “Increasing the allocation of funds for the development of structures and cooperation mechanisms of the African diaspora in Europe”.
The Seed Funding scheme operated from 2011 to 2015 and financially supported 12 projects focused on diaspora. This financial contribution made it possible to organise the 2nd African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe in 2015, which was one of the key moments for the development and mainstreaming of the youth diaspora agenda in Europe.
Analysis and Research
The North-South Centre promoted and facilitated a series of activities which aimed at increasing the understanding of the youth diaspora’s realities, addressing their main concerns and assessing their needs in terms of capacity development within the youth work sector.
A first seminar addressed the role and the contribution of youth diaspora for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose main outcomes were gathered in the report “From Millennium Development Goals to Millennium Development Wins”.
In 2016 and 2017, the Ilegend project gave more emphasis to the contribution of youth diaspora for the development and implementation of Global Education in Europe. As a result a series of activities were organised to better reflect upon this new dimension of global education and to identify challenges and opportunities that youth diaspora organisations face within this framework.
A focus group, through networking and the exchange of expertise, identified strategies and approaches on how to actively involve diaspora and migrant organisations in promoting the principles of global education in policy-making for inclusive societies.
A subsequent seminar explored issues related to migration and the refugee crisis from the diaspora perspective, reflecting upon the importance of strengthening the active citizenship capacities of youth diaspora organisations
A research was also commissioned to map organisations working with diaspora communities in Europe in order to assess the scope of the youth diaspora dimension in Europe and create a database of stakeholders to further engage with.