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HomeHomeExpress YourselfPanorama"The MDGs are young goals" - An Interview with Erik T. Wedershoven Part I
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"The MDGs are young goals" - An Interview with Erik T. Wedershoven Part I Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Franziska Seel, Germany Sep 30, 2005
Child & Youth Rights   Interviews
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On September 27th, I had the chance and honor to conduct a phone interview with Erik T. Wedershoven, 19, who is the official Youth Delegate of The Netherlands to the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. I’ve chatted with him for about one hour about his role and work as Youth Delegate, his participation in the Millennium Summit and the difficulties of getting more young people from developing countries become Youth Delegates.

Erik, in October last year you were selected as official Youth Delegate of The Netherlands to the United Nations General Assembly. Can you explain us a bit more about the role of youth delegates and your work in particular?

My work consists mainly of two things: First of all, what I would call the official part, is to work with our Ministry of Foreign Affairs on international youth policy, but also on national youth policies, like employment etc. It is about linking the Dutch youth policy and Dutch youth organizations to the international level - like the World Programme of Action for Youth, for example.

Secondly, I’m working in The Netherlands to raise awareness and let other young people know about the World Programme, about youth in other countries and how they can work in international development and start their own projects. I do this by attending a lot of conferences here in The Netherlands.

And in fact, I would add a third point, which is that I’m trying to lobby for more youth delegates, especially from the South…

… which is actually a topic that I would like to come back to later on. Let me first ask you a few questions about your involvement in the M+5 Summit. Because I think it was very unique that you went there as well. Can you tell us a bit more how it happened that you also went to the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly? Usually, Youth Delegates just go to the UN General Assembly segment that is dealing with youth. How did it come that you also joined your government to the M+5 Summit? Did they just invite you to come along?

They weren’t actually inviting me. I decided that when I was elected last year, on October 21st. One of my major points in the campaign were the MDGs. Basically, it was the first time that the MDGs were really in the news and on national television.
Because I used those words and I explained what they meant. It was one of my strongest points. And of course the M+5 Summit was very important for the evaluation of the MDGs, there were so many side-events and important discussions going on around the MDGs, that I really decided to lobby for a place in the government delegation to the Millennium Summit.

I was very active for the last couple of 4-4,5 years in development cooperation, so I had a good network and everyone supported me in this. For example, if a youth organization from The Netherlands met with someone from the Mission to the UN in New York they were asking “is our youth delegate going to the Millennium Summit?” That proved to my government that I really had ideas about the MDGs and it showed them how important it is to involve youth in this. Because the MDGs are really young goals; when you are talking about education, when you are talking about HIV/AIDS - these are youth issues! It is so important to involve youth when you talk about these issues and make decisions on policies.

It took us half a year to lobby for it but in the end my government saw how important it was to not only have youth there present that could discuss with other leaders on youth issues and on the MDGs. But also to give the youth delegates something to work on and to bring back home to the youth in The Netherlands from the Millennium Summit.

It’s interesting that you say you had to lobby for it. Can you make that a bit more concrete? How do you lobby to become a youth delegate in such a high-level meeting? What were the arguments that you used?

Well, lobbying is trying to do things through an unofficial way – or at least that’s the Dutch meaning of it. As a youth delegate you are on a lot of panels and when you are in such a panel or discussion they always expect you to say something interesting about youth and to give a young view on certain things. I did that, and my Minister saw me many times. A lot of people from the Ministry saw me, too and I worked with a lot of people from the Ministry on different projects trying to raise awareness for development cooperation in The Netherlands. And after a certain time they knew me, they knew that I wasn’t just smiling and representing the youth, but also, I could really help them with finding experts on different youth issues. What I know a lot about because of my work at Red Cross is HIV/AIDS. But if they wanted to talk with child soldiers, I could help them with contacts of youth from Sudan or Liberia. That was very helpful for them. They saw that I was really honest and hard-working and again, so many organizations supported me. Every time they would talk to a Minister or an Ambassador they would ask for me and that really helped. It showed that I had a lot of support from other organizations and not only from my friends. So, I don’t know how you say that, but at a certain point you have a lot of nets put out and one moment you catch the fish.

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Franziska Seel

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elizabeth kibalama | Feb 20th, 2006
hallo mr. Erik T Wedershoven I hope you got my last comment. I made an error by addressing you as Seel, the writer. I am a wageningen uni aluminia and have looked for a working experience for the last 2 years. have not succeeded. Could you please give me some advice on how to get a placement in NGOs working on African issues. I trust you have a lot of expert knowledge on how to deal and approach the Dutch ngos. my email is maynaki@yahoo.co.uk. groetjes, elizabeth

This is good
Henry Ekwuruke | Aug 21st, 2006
I became happier reading this interesting and challenging piece. One more point Erik, have you told them that the world cannot achieve the MDGs if the people are left aside, and who are the people, the youth are, with about half of the world and getting bigger, who are they planning for? Themselves? No at all, they are planning for us, they are doing the meeting for we, our future is at stake. Please can you inform me of what you tell them? I will more happy to hear you give insight of the activities of the people at the CSD because, this time I am out to make myself and delegate to the event in 2007 and will like to make our case known from this part of the world, on the impacts of the MDGs and what works and what doesn't and ask them to give me answers. I appreciate you. Thanks

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