Youth Engagement for Development in the Danube Region
The Danube river region has represented throughout history a cradle of civilization and of cultural, social and economic development. The choice for the motto of the European Union’s Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) was obvious and it transmitted an important message of hope in order to marshal people and resources in the region towards the direction of development: “Danube, the river of opportunities”.
The Danube Youth Alliance at work
Moreover, on a more personal level, the motto of the EUSDR has pushed me towards an ambitious goal, that of creating a youth network in the region. Having this goal in mind, I, along with a group of likeminded individuals, have launched the Danube Youth Alliance in Bucharest. Its first and most important goal is to help the youth to be proactive in their own development. In order to do so, we have created a series of various educational projects focusing on legal and civic education that we implemented in Bucharest with the purpose of expanding our horizons and creating bridges of collaboration with other youth organizations in the region.
In addition, the purpose of investing all manner of resources extends beyond helping the youth to develop themselves, but to thereby ensure the development of the region. Let me be more specific – in a context where more and more people are changing perspectives inside their own country, it is crucial to foster a generation of educated youth that have personally and directly felt the benefits of a regional community. In order to do so, they have to travel, to meet new people from the region and to participate in activities that develop them and which foster the realization of the necessity of a connected and powerful community.
Reaping social gains in a generation
The societal benefits that will occur in a generation, if we are intelligent enough to invest in the regional youth, are diverse and numerous. First of all, there is a social advantage. The aim to create a stronger community will develop a sense of belonging and a cultural identity common to youth in the region. The bonds between people will be greater, therefore there will be a stronger sense of solidarity, something that is essential for a healthy society.
Second of all, the economic advantage is extremely important. At first, there is an economic impact while the exchange of experiences occurs, also when the youth travel and when they consume the local material and cultural products. However, the real gains will be registered when the next generation of entrepreneurs will create their own businesses, finding partners in the region and expanding their reach and their success. This will result in a more prosperous and economically powerful region. Coming back the idea of the hopeful motto of the Danube, young people have to be made aware that educational and professional opportunities abound and are within their personal reach if only they cultivate an ambitious mindset. On the other side, the task of various stakeholders from the public and private sector interested in the development of the youth should be to centralize resources for awareness and transparency of opportunities and to disseminate such knowledge and opportunities to the youth around them based on the principle of “giving back”.
Matching public and private actors
Furthermore, the benefits in both short and long term for the development of the region are self-evident. However, the challenge of this path is to acquire the means to reach these goals, which requires the common effort of key actors in the public and private sector. The concept is simple enough, but the implementation is arduous.
In our opinion, the solution to develop such an interconnected community is to create a network of Danube Youth Centers that will aim to continuously promote the opportunities of the region, create bridges of communication between the youth in the region and common projects. Concretely, these centers can be created by public institutions or NGOs and require an efficient team that will work in order to achieve the goals mentioned before, as well as a space that can fit several educational activities for the youth. This space should represent a place where excellent youth initiatives are promoted, but also a point of communication between the youth as well as between the youth and the stakeholders.
Ultimately, creating a network of Danube Youth Centers will develop the young generation and consequently the region in order to achieve a more prosperous, inclusive and interconnected Danube community.
If you are interested to contribute to the development of a youth center in your city, feel free to contact us at the following email address: [email protected]