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Generational Dialogues: A Multicultural Start to EDD 2017

The European Development Days stand on the strong pillars of multiculturalism and synergy between grassroots solutions and international development policy. And the Young Leader program is the perfect microcosm of that.

The world is at an interesting crossroads as it strives for harmony between independent and collective identities. Religious diversity sits at the centre of this debate.

Young people across the world are increasingly more multicultural and often identify with both their own heritage as well as a common global identity fostered through 21st century’s signature interconnectivity particularly through new communication platforms over the internet. Thus, a roundtable with Mr. Jan Figel, Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union, marked a promising journey for EDD Young Leaders to engage in a cross generational dialogue on what religious diversity means in their countries and the world.

The new cohort of 2017 young leaders, joined by the Editors (Young Leaders 2016 alumni), had the chance to learn from Mr. Figel’s long standing expertise and experiences before the European Development Days on 2nd June.

With open space for each young leader to share their views on respect for religious diversity, the role of young people in promoting freedom of religion or belief and the means and tools to do so, conversations revealed open minds, honest stories and a promising future.

Here’s a sneak peek into our roundtable with 5 key take aways from our conversation with Mr. Figel:

  1. Stay young forever: our role as young leaders is to stay young forever and stay leaders forever, but remember to be leaders who serve.

  2. Freedom of religion or belief and the Special Envoy’s work is more about human dignity than simply religion or theology. Our freedoms come with responsibility and the youth must be ready to take this responsibility for peaceful change to be sustainable.

  3. Education, and particularly religious literacy, is at the heart of the solution. However, the key is in access and quality which yields automatic benefits for culture, citizenship, employment and the economy. Without quality with access we run the risk of elitism and lose relevance.

  4. Diversity of languages and religions is not the problem but the very definition. Instead of a ‘melting pot’ or a ‘salad bowl’, a new rhetoric of mosaic emerged from Mr. Figel’s experience. We are all individual pieces and a whole, and our unity in today’s times is decisive.

  5. The world needs leadership for humanity, built on common shared values of human dignity and justice. And the Special Envoy is ready to work with the youth today and for the years to come to make this leadership a reality.

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