Robert Sagun is currently the Executive Director of the Philippine Resources for Sustainable Development, Inc. and Policy Coordinator of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Youth Caucus. He was one of the youth spokespersons at the United Nations Informal Interactive Hearings with NGOs, Civil Society and the Private Sector on International Migration and Development held on July 12, 2006. To view his speech please click here.
Mariya Petrova (PM): How and why did you get involved with the Global Youth Action Network?
Robert Sagun (RS): I learned of GYAN’s inspiring work on youth development way back in 2002 – a time where the world is focused on the issue of sustainable development. My involvement with GYAN started with a personal pursuit to network with youth leaders and groups highly conscious of global socio-economic issues. This is now growing to an organizational level of engagement with GYAN, a true worker for young people’s rights and a committed advocate of inclusive youth empowerment.
(MP): How have the young people in Mexico responded to the work of your organization?
(RS): Our organization, the Philippine Resources for Sustainable Development, Inc., is a youth-led NGO working to mainstream sustainable development in the Philippine society through research, advocacy and campaigns, and concrete community-driven action. Filipino youth has and is positively responding to our work by voluntarily engaging themselves to some of our projects. In 2005, the year where we have focused ourselves on youth development initiatives, a multitude of youth leaders and youth groups have been genuinely involved as project volunteers, partners and beneficiaries.
(MP): What are young people in your country doing on the problem of migration?
(RS): The Philippine Government has made international migration, or more specifically labor exportation, a key national development policy. Since the Philippines has in many years having double-digit unemployment rate and is experiencing a widening mismatch between labor skills and job market, more and more young people are marching to job placement agencies hoping to land a job somewhere abroad. Some quarters in the Philippine society, from the academe to youth bodies and political groups, have been raising their fists against the Government’s policy of labor exportation for the fear of losing the intellectual capital of the country as well as the social costs of migration at the level of family relationships. In summary, global migration is either a problem or a solution depending on where a Filipino youth stands.
(MP): Do you attempt to further engage in a dialogue with your government on the issues of youth migration?
(RS): Though 70-80% of Filipinos who migrate either for work, study or to reconnect with their families abroad are young, skilled people, there is a clear lack of dialogue and space for interaction offered by the Government to them in the arena of migration policy formulation. Rest assured, my organization, which I lead, shall explore means to address this issue that will effectively engage young people in the migration policy debate.
(MP): In what specific ways or programs can the youth be involved with in helping to establish clear emigrational policies?
(RS): In helping to establish clear emigrational policies, young people should take the initiative to talk to their Governments for the main reason that they are in charge of crafting these policies. Without such an effort, Governments would not widely hear and reflect on young people’s perspectives on the issue. From there, youth, ideally co-working with Governments and other relevant stakeholders, can pro-actively implement pertinent programs.
(MP): How can other youth groups from different parts of the world help in the matter of migration?
(RS): Youth organizations can form a global, inclusive network of young people that will campaign for young migrant (workers’) rights at the national, regional and global levels. Young people in migrant communities can develop programs that will make new young migrants to “feel at home”. They can as well explore partnerships with organizations that provide support for entrepreneurial endeavors. They can form an alliance that encourages skilled migrants to return back to their home countries and, for some time, voluntarily work for development projects. There are many powerful, innovative ways on how youth organizations can help make migration more contributory to socio-economic development both at the level of the receiving and sending countries.
(MP): Do you think that the Informal Interactive Hearings with NGOs, Civil Society, and the Private Sector on International Migration and Development held on July 12, 2006 were effective in establishing an active conversation between all parties?
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