A summary of the 'Young Mediterranean Voices' National Debate Forum 2020 in Lebanon!

Tuesday, 12 January, 2021

The Young Mediterranean Voices programme, co-organised by the Anna Lindh Foundation and British Council and co-funded by the European Union, launched a month-long, region-wide programme of debate competitions and National Debate Forums (NDF) across eight South-Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia.

In Lebanon, the 5-day event took place from 21-23, 26 and 28 November via Zoom due to the global pandemic the world is going through that limited us the face-to-face interaction. The debate tournament, that had 11 debates in Arabic and 2 in English, included over 80 participants from four different debate hubs geographically dispersed over 5 governorates. Debates tackled the UN’s adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to contribute to the 2030 Agenda, specifically: 

  • SDG4: Quality Education
  • SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG10: Reduce Inequality within and among Countries
  • SDG16: Peace Justice and Strong Institutions

The NDF also included capacity building workshops and training sessions delivered by the expertise who equipped the participants with needed skills to enhance their capacity in public policy making, policy debate and content/stories creation on social media.

In addition to that, an informal networking online event took place during the last day of the NDF to showcase the achievements of two debate clubs established by YMV alumni in 2018 and 2019 and took part of this year’s Debate Club Challenge; the AUB 3D club and Khotwa debate club. The day continued by having a policy dialogue where two young debaters had the opportunity to present their insights about  freedom of expression (SDG 16) to three panelist members; Mrs Joumana Haddad, Dr Tala Zein and Mr Elias Raiif Hankach, and two other young people showcased their recommendations about the need of a new social contract in Lebanon (SDG 10) to Mr Rein Nieland, Mrs Christine Wilson and Dr Nasser Yassin as their respective theme’s panelist members. 

The British Council Country Director, David Knox, expressed his happiness to be sharing the fruits of those debates with the young people. He expressed the importance of this programme  as “the largest youth dialogue network across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the Balkans that empowers young people to enhance a culture of dialogue and to contribute to policy making and to shaping the media, among other things to address shared concerns”. Mr Knox feels hopeful with the positive participation from young people and their effective contribution, encouraging them to be pillars in decision-making and molding the future.

Ellada Evangelou, the YMV Coordinator at the Anna Lindh Foundation in her turn was also happy to see the dedication and the commitment of the young people as well as the partner organisations that made this event possible. She added that: “these debates have become a movement that would resonate, and the challenges the world is facing today are bigger and require more participation in decision and policy making that could yield changes”.

Mr Nieland, on behalf of the EU delegation in Lebanon, also highlighted the importance of discussions and dialogues: “Throughout these dire circumstances that Lebanon is facing and is continuing to fight, the future could be sculpted by young people’s increasing involvement that would make a great effect through speaking up, , discussing, recommending, and presenting their stances.”