February 5, 2014

It’s all about advocacy! YEP Joint Training in Amsterdam

‘Make choices’, says Meus van der Poel, a professional lobbyist in The Hague. ‘Focus on one advocacy goal, for example on an alternative youth policy in your country, or on very specific business reforms so it becomes easier to set up your business.’ Van der Poel is one of the top trainers of the second training week for local partners of SPARK’s Youth Engagement Programme (YEP).

After a successful training in Burundi the year before, the training took place from 27 to 30 January on SPARK’s founding grounds: Amsterdam. SPARK welcomed all partners from Burundi (New GenerationFontaine Isoko), Palestine (PYALARA), and South Sudan (MatMedia) – the latter  managed to attend despite their country’s upheavals. ‘Make sure you know what you want and what you have to offer, before you enter the room of a politician.’

The training was an opportunity for participants to reflect on the activities of the past year, exchange ideas, and gain inspiration and knowledge for the coming year. Advocacy was at the center of this YEP week; a significant and relevant topic, given the Dutch government’s current policies on development cooperation and the three strategies of SPARK’s programme.

Through this programme SPARK encourages its partners to prioritise lobbying in their respective countries, enable and mobilise  youth to become more politically engaged with the aim to change the nation’s entrepreneurial environment in a positive manner. The engagement of youth in the political arena, achieved through advocacy campaigns, will raise more awareness among youth and politicians, and among civil society organisations and the private sector.  Together they can contribute to a sustainable economy and the rebuilding of their country. 

Various sessions were held from Sunday to Thursday, covering topics from advocacy, together with Arjen Berkvens from Max van der Stoel Foundation, to results based management. Alongside the training sessions, the programme included other activities as well, making it a filled five-day event. Among these, the group paid a visit to The Hague, the political heart of the Netherlands. The visit included a workshop by lobbyists Meus van der Poel and Bert van Steeg, meetings with politicians like MP Roelof van Laar (PvdA), and an extensive tour at the Dutch Parliament with an exclusive entry to one of the world’s most breathtaking libraries.  A visit to our partner, The Hague Academy for Local Governance completed the day.

Media was also key to this joint training: participants visited Pauw & Witteman, one of best-known talk shows in the Netherlands, as well as the Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) where attendees met with the Africa and Middle East news desks. The latter included an interview training, for the participants to acquaint themselves with this medium and receive tips and tricks through a mock interview exercise.

The YEP week can be summarised as an ambitious, interactive, and inspiring week. New ideas have been collected by the partners to take home and we are excited to see these ideas become realities in the coming year!

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