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The Africa Day Youth Think Tank in action!

At the FMS, youth engagement is a high priority. For this reason, last summer we launched the Africa Day Youth Think Tank, a project in cooperation with Erasmus+. Thirty young people, from diverse educational and personal backgrounds, united around a shared interest: the African continent. Together, they have spent the past months working on two key dilemmas arising from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Africa Strategy: equal relations between the Netherlands and Africa and climate justice.

Through five learning days, participants considered these issues and were immersed in knowledge and skills to address these dilemmas and develop innovative and creative ideas. At the Africa Day on 18 November, the young people will present their ideas and gather final input for the recommendations they will submit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in December.

First days of learning: a dive into knowledge acquisition


On 2 September, young people from the think tank met for the first time. The day was all about getting acquainted and understanding the Africa Strategy. Jelte van Wieren, director of the Africa Department of Foreign Affairs presented the strategy and the two related issues to the young people.

The issue "Equal partnerships" focuses on what constitutes an equal relationship between the Netherlands/EU and African countries and how we can build it. The second dilemma, "Climate justice" focuses on whether the Netherlands/West are taking sufficient responsibility in addressing the climate crisis. To explore these issues in depth, the group divided into two working groups later in the day, where initial ideas were captured.

During this enriching learning day, Sandra Pellegom, coordinator of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also acted as guest speaker. She made illuminating links between the SDGs and the underlying themes of the Africa Strategy. With this, the young people went to work on their own in the afternoon.


Two weeks later, on 16 September, the second learning day took place in Leiden. This day revolved around academic perspectives and offered an in-depth look at the relationship between the Netherlands and Africa, climate change and climate politics in Africa. The day started with a fascinating presentation by Ayinkinka Akinyoade, head of the African Study Centre's research centre and professor of demography. He took the youth into the complex world of African demography and the impact of climate change, highlighting dilemmas and development options.

Then Marleen Dekker, director of the African Study Centre, shared her insights on inclusive development and introduced young people with the five Ws: Who Gets What, Where, When and Why? The day was concluded by Sara de Wit, assistant professor in the History Department at Leiden University, who discussed in depth the theme "Africa's Anthropocene and Climate Change."

After these fascinating lectures, it was time for a more light-hearted note. Kiki Ritmeijer, youth Sustainable Development representative of the NJR, together with her working group, organised an interactive session on intergenerational justice. Based on propositions such as "I think older generations should not have a say in climate issues, as it will not affect them in the future," a lively discussion ensued.

In the afternoon, the young people got back to work in two groups and used the knowledge gained to further formulate answers to the questions "what does an equal relationship between the Netherlands and Africa look like and does the West take sufficient responsibility in the climate crisis?" The climate group put the concept of local agency central to answering the questions and the equal partnership group focused specifically on an equal relationship with regard to food security and critical raw materials.

Deepening in fernskills: learning days 3 and 4

On 7 October, the young people gathered for their third meeting, this time in Utrecht. The focus of this day was on developing lobbying and advocacy skills, as well as media training. How can ideas be turned into policy advocacy? Which stakeholders should be involved and which media channels are appropriate? These crucial questions were answered by Marit Maij, Action Aid's director, and Bas Bijlsma, an independent policy advocacy consultant. They provided each group with specific advice ahead of the presentation to Foreign Affairs.

In the afternoon, Kido Koenig, director of FMS and experienced trainer, guided the young people in further exploring themes such as campaigning and media use through stimulating questions. By the end of the day, the young people had already put down concrete ideas on paper to tackle the issues.


Last week, on 21 October, the young people's concrete ideas were discussed during the fourth day of learning. During the Youth Dialogue, think tank participants engaged with 14 youth and climate activists from Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Senegal on equal relations, climate justice and youth participation. The ideas conceived were tested for feasibility and advice was sought. In the afternoon, Kjeld Kroon, programme maker at Pakhuis de Zwijger, provided a workshop on programme development and helped the young people shape their ideas for the sessions that will give at Africa Day on 18 November.

Africa Day 18 November

The final learning day in this track is scheduled for 4 November. On this day, the young people will finalise their session for Africa Day and pitch their ideas to a number of politicians. Finally, on Africa Day itself, on 18 November, they will share their views and gather the final input for the recommendations they will make to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Are you curious about these young people's views on creating equal relations between the Netherlands and Africa? Or would you like to know more about their perspective on climate justice and the extent to which the West takes responsibility in this? Then don't hesitate and buy your ticket for the Africa Day now and register for the youth sessions! You can buy tickets at!