By Tobias Simonsen
When I write this blog post, I first want to state how proud I am of the young people whom contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals through development projects. Secondly, I want to say thank you, because I have been raised and empowered through a development system, where impact and possibilities are not distributed by rank – but, by desire for change and respect with young people and the civil society in a leading role.
I believe that investment in development projects are of immensely high value for societies and the young people involved, whom through their experiences will be active citizens - ready to take care of themselves and their surroundings.
My scout organisation KFUM-Spejderne I Danmark, is forming future leaders in Denmark and Tunisia, along with our close friends from Tunisia, Les Scouts Tunisiens. The two organizations have worked together since 2007, through a youth driven development corporation supported by various Danish and international donors, including the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Danish Arabic Partnership Program.
It all started as an ordinary cultural exchange program between two youth organizations, but developed because of the Arabic Spring, into a society development project, with focus on democracy, youth empowerment, and gender equality in Tunisia and Denmark. In Tunisia, through initiatives with direct and proven impact to the society, and in Denmark through knowledge sharing, reflections upon own practices and capacity building of young people in leading intercultural project roles was achieved.
And, there is a need for such corporations. According to the “International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS, 2016)” internationally conducted by “International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)”, engagement in activities to help people in less developed countries is not a high priority for any of the 13-15-year-old participants from the 24 participating countries. The participants simply can’t relate to how international projects are helping their societies.
The report clearly states that we need youth driven development projects, where young people directly can get in touch with citizenship and participatory democracy, so they can grow up and lead societies with the values they have gained.
Through KFUM-Spejderne and Les Scouts Tunisiens’ corporation, more than 800 scouts and non-scouts have been trained in entrepreneurship to enable them to create their own jobs and to face unemployment head-on. We have made young voice forums, where young people from all over the society in Tunisia have been brought together to get a mutual understand of each other and to receive training within public speaking and appreciative inquiry. We have presented a high number of young people for new cultures and stressed the importance of gender equality, resulting in a more diverse and young board of the Tunisian Scout Association – just to mention a few of our achievements.
Youth empowerment and focus on international solidarity is essential to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals. We need development systems which allow young people to advance their skills and knowledge regarding active citizenship, and where mistakes are not seen as a disaster, but as important learning opportunities. We need societies who are investing in their youth and who know that development funds are highly valuable both locally and globally.
Thank you for empowering me in the Danish-Tunisian Scout Corporation; let’s achieve the SDGs by giving more young people the chance to participate in development projects as well.
KFUM-Spejderne i Danmark and Les Scouts Tunisiens are both members of World Organization of the Scouting Movement, with more than 40 million members, is considered the biggest youth driven peace movement in the world. The partnership has recently been extended until 2021. Follow the partnership on #tunisiadenmark and watch the video with Amal below.
Tobias Simonsen is heading the communication in Denmark for the Danish-Tunisian Scout Corporation. He has been active in the Scouting Movement since he was five years old and were by the age of 20 elected as the youngest District Commissioner in his scout association. Tobias is this summer achieving his Master’s Degree in Organisation and Strategy from Aalborg University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Economics from the same university. Tobias is currently working at the Royal Danish Embassy in India and has previously worked with business models for scout centres in Tunisia and assisted a PhD project about Danish and German minorities during his time at Hamburg University. You can connect with Tobias on Twitter at @SimonseTobias.