‘Digital is not necessarily hardware or technology’, Dr Gege Gatt, Chairman of the Beacon Media Group and CEO of Ebo.ai, has said.
‘Rather it should be a framework to think about problems. It brings more agility, a culture of experimentation, entrepreneurial courage and leadership to young people.’
Dr Gatt was making the comments on the concluding day (Friday) of the week-long Regional Leadership Seminar, where he was making a contribution discussing the value and importance of technology in advocacy and influencing public policy.
The importance of dialogue and debate
The Regional Leadership Seminar was a week-long series of sessions bringing together students and international figures from the fields of academia, politics, diplomacy and media.
24 delegates from 16 countries across Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa, participating in five days of training sessions exploring the importance of dialogue about key issues affecting their countries and ways to advocate to policy makers.
This was the first of its kind and organised by the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC), the World Alliance of Leaders – Club de Madrid, in partnership with Anna Lindh Foundation for Young Mediterranean Voices programme. The event also coincides with the 5+5 Dialogue between Foreign Ministers from the EU and Mediterranean nations
It is understood to be the precursor to the YMV Mediterranean Debate Forum, set to take place in July 2019.
For this reason, the 5 day event tasked delegates with exploring and discussing 4 of 8 key themes; Mobility, Education, Gender, Equality, Sustainable Development, Media Literacy, Youth Participation, Employment and Migration.
On the final day, the delegates looked at the importance of shaping and presenting advocacy messages across their themes. Giving them feedback were a panel of former Maltese politicians, representatives from the European Commission and from organisations focused on diplomacy.
‘Disconnected, passive and apathetic youth, it’s not true’
Moderating the session is Stephen Calleya, Director of the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies.
He states that although the event lasted five days, it helped young people to ‘voice their concerns and to amplify them’. The platform offers people a way to see things across the ‘geographical, geopolitical, societal perspectives’, he said.
Most importantly of all, the event demonstrates that the myth that young people are ‘disconnected, passive and apathetic towards the challenges surrounding them is not true’. What is needed are the opportunities for them to ‘make a difference’, but they need more exposure, he explained.
They learned from us and we learned from them
When asked about his perceptions of the 24 delegates that presented their perspectives to the panel, former Greek Prime Minister, Dr George Papandreou explained that the experience had shown that there is a drive and passion ‘to change things for the better’.
He explained that during the time he’d spent listening and engaging, there were definite signs that the young pioneers in the room were ‘searching’ and looking to build new ideas. They demonstrated that their aims cross borders and cultures and this marked positive signs for dealing with the kinds of regional and global problems that persist.
‘I also feel that they have a new culture of sharing information and understanding which they are using through technology which I also think could be very important. So not only did they learn from us, I’m sure they learned a lot from them too’, he said.