Young people have the potential to create positive change and shape a new, forward-thinking vision for security and cooperation. To unlock their potential, the OSCE Perspectives 20-30 (P20-30) initiative was created to give them a seat at the table and a say in their future security.
The journey started in 2019 with the Perspectives 20-30 Core Group of Experts (CGE), a group of 22 young people who shaped their vision for a safer future in the OSCE area, issuing concrete recommendations to decision-makers and the OSCE in critical areas of security such as new technologies, building peace, environment and energy, rule of law, security and human rights, and education. In the response to the pandemic, the fully online Perspectives 20-30 Online Academy emerged, offering a series of webinars to promote interaction among young women and men from across the region, enhance their professional skills, and provide insight into the work of the OSCE.
In the words of OSCE Secretary General, Helga Maria Schmid: “Despite the immensity of the challenges they face, youth continue to advocate for decisive action to tackle gender inequality and climate change, uphold human rights and democracy, promote inclusive education and dialogue, and build peace. It is our collective duty to protect their right to be heard, especially in times of crises.”
Exchange and co-operation
From 2021 to 2022, from more than 700 applicants, 34 women and 26 men from across the OSCE region engaged with an impressive list of trainers and speakers, including the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Academy in Bishkek and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe.
“Young people are the new architects of our democratic future; their energy, vision, and resourcefulness can shape our democratic house in the coming years, giving it stronger foundations and a bigger space to welcome everyone,” ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci said.
“The Perspectives 20-30 initiative is a great opportunity to advance research into matters of security in times of rapid change and new threat constellations,” Alexander Wolters, Director of the OSCE Academy in Bishkek added.
By working with these professionals, the participants of the Academy had unique access to experts to inform their dialogue and policy recommendations.
“The P20-30 Academy allowed me to ideate and collaborate with a remarkable group of young people from across the OSCE region. It broadened my knowledge on a cache of security issues with experts who offered new perspectives, and I was able to contribute to a body of knowledge on some of the key transnational challenges of our time,” Aaron Joshua Pinto, a young professional from Canada and student of the P20-30 Online Academy in 2021 said. “I am grateful to the OSCE for investing in and being an active partner with young people in the multilateral arena.”
Over the course of the Academy, participants also had the opportunity to interface with policymakers and government officials. They met with OSCE delegations, officials and experts, to exchange views and provide fresh perspectives on security challenges affecting the OSCE region. With this knowledge, they created and presented a series of recommendations to the OSCE Secretary General and representatives, as well as to Ambassadors of OSCE participating States.
European Security is at this moment in time as fragile and endangered as never before in the history of the OSCE. Therefore, we need young voices to shape the future, young people to bring their perspectives together and explore ways into a better and more stable future,” Christos Katsioulis, Director of FES Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe said.
The recommendations included rethinking emissions reporting in the defence sector, addressing gender issues, adapting education to the ‘new normal’ of the pandemic, public-private partnerships to protect critical infrastructure, inclusive approaches to rule of law challenges and much more.
The papers are available here.
Aigerim Seitenova, a young human rights professional from Kazakhstan had the opportunity to be a part of the CGE in 2019. Three years later, she looks back at how her career and personal growth were shaped by the opportunities presented by the Perspectives 20-30 Initiative.
“I mean it when I say that participating in Perspectives 20-30 has really changed my life and opened doors I never thought would be open for me,” Aigerim said. “In the past three years, she won a scholarship, finished her master’s degree in international human rights law, chose a career in nuclear disarmament and human rights, got into the Forbes 30 under 30 list and was called up for numerous high-level speaking engagements.
Being a part of the Core Group of Experts for the Perspectives 20-30 empowered Aigerim to continue working in the human rights field, pursue her career and education and “bring the change to the world.”
“And it all started partially because I got so inspired during my participation in Perspectives 20-30 since I not only contributed with the expertise and experience of my activism but also expanded my networks and met wonderful young people who do meaningful projects in different parts of the world. Being a part of the initiative has given me a sense of global community and hope which all of us need at this very moment.”
In 2020 and 2021, the Perspectives 20-30 Initiative continued to amplify youth voices through the Debating Perspectives 20-30 Roadshow, a series of consultations with young people across the OSCE region aimed at addressing issues that are important for younger generations and bring them back into the political discourse.
The Roadshow gathered more than 200 youth representatives in the course of six meetings. Conclusions and recommendations from these discussions have been published in a policy paper to provide participating States with a youth perspective on how to strengthen co-operation to promote comprehensive security discussions. Members of the P20-30 Core Group of Experts opened and moderated the discussions.
The policy discussions promoted under the P20-30 Initiative have been instrumental for the work of the OSCE and youth networks across the region.
The Network by Consensus – a youth-led community of 1000 alumni of OSCE events who provides a forum for strengthening the youth dialogue and developing networking opportunities for youth across Central Asia — facilitated discussions on the P2030 Discussion Paper and used the document as a guide for designing activities to promote the role of youth in their communities. The sessions on P2030 paper provided an opportunity to discuss youth perspectives on the challenges faced in the OSCE region.
The Perspectives 20-30 Initiative is an extra-budgetary project of the OSCE Office of the Secretary General, with support from Andorra, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland. The project concluded on 30 September 2022.
Stay tuned for the next steps!