These are unusual times that demand unorthodox answers to the challenges we are facing. Yesterday evening our Prime Minister Mark Rutte made a very clear statement that has been long overdue since the outbreak of the Corona crisis. He first of all acknowledged the impact on children and youth of the crisis we have at hand as a global community. He then praised our kids and youth for their way of coping with the crisis and he ended with a clear invite to youth to participate in developing proper responses to the Pandemic. He also ordered our Mayors in all ciities to ensure youth is involved in thinking about solutions. The picture above, which illustrated youth participation in decision-making only a couple of months ago, just goes to show how their lives have been impacted dramatically.
What a great way to engage the next generation, who have seen their prospects vanish in a very short time-span. Still, what a resilience youth is still showing. In my direct environment I am witnessing pregnancies, births, couples that make life-long commitments to each other, young people buying houses etc. Teenagers continuing their side-jobs in supermarkets and not refraining from filling the shelves while taking precautionary measures as prescribed by their employers while continuing their education online. They still connect with study-mates and take part in online sessions with study-friends while planning for their summer holidays to spend time with each other or doing something useful for society. In doing so, they signal to us how the world keeps turning though entire nations are held in lock-downs. Live goes on and life-impacting-decisions are taken despite an insecure environment and an unforeseeable future. Possessing the so called 21st century skills in abundance, would they not be best positioned to help us navigate a way out of the crisis?
From June 1 onward, I have been asked to join a team in our Ministry that will support colleagues from thematic departments and selected civil society alliances to amplify in particular voices of youth, women and marginalized groups and to aim for safeguarding and strengthening civic space for the purpose of inclusive sustainable development. Something I have been advocating for since I have started this blog. What a privilege to be able to do so.
We do witness both a global re-emergence of the state as a health and security provider and science stepping up in trying to bring the evidence to the table to understand patterns of the current pandemic while businesses alter their business models and find ways to mobilize technical support in finding solutions. We also see a vibrant civil society where people are helping each other to stay safe, going about their daily affairs somehow and adhere to rules that have been set and limit our freedom in public places. It is still early days to evaluate the effect this will have on global civic space. However, the pandemic did bring a new togetherness that we have not experienced for a long time illustrating the need to better work together internationally and learn from each other.
Everyone is to give their best to overcome this crisis and also deal effectively with other crises that are still present at individual or communal level or those that are looming around the corner, like climate change. Like our Prime Minister I strongly believe young people can really help us out in developing lasting solutions. If we would only listen and include them in ongoing change processes.
My name is Reinier van Hoffen, founder of URAIDE.
Click here for a summary.
Also find the text of a lecture Dr. Achterhuis held at the 2012 Bilderberg conference.