In a landmark partnership, the European Commission and the world’s largest youth organizations, collectively known as the “Big Six,” have unveiled plans for the EU Youth Empowerment Fund.
This €10 million pilot initiative, to be administered through the Global Youth Mobilization (GYM), aims to empower young people and promote sustainable development in EU partner countries worldwide.
The EU Youth Empowerment Fund is a key component of the Youth Action Plan for EU External Action, which celebrates its first anniversary. This plan serves as the European Union’s strategic framework for engaging with young people and fostering a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future.
At the launch event held in Nairobi, Kenya, the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, joined Carlos Sanvee, the Chair of GYM, and young leaders from across the globe. Urpilainen expressed her enthusiasm for the initiative, emphasizing its alignment with the Youth Action Plan’s pillars: “engage, empower, and connect.”
“Our micro-grants will support youth-led projects, contribute to sustainable development, and build recognition for young people as change-makers,” stated Commissioner Urpilainen. “Through this partnership, we will deliver concrete opportunities in local communities to achieve the SDGs, ensuring that no one is left behind.”
Carlos Sanvee, Global Youth Mobilization Chair and World YMCA Secretary-General, stressed the importance of youth-driven solutions: “Young people are the solution, not the problem. The EU and the GYM will provide them the platform, the funding, and the facilitation to get their ideas off the ground.”
Helga Mutasingwa, Youth Representative and Activist, highlighted the significance of the Youth Empowerment Fund: “The EU-Big Six partnership will put young people in the driving seat – with decisions for us, made by us – and we are excited to show the impact we can make towards the SDGs as a result.”
This groundbreaking partnership aims to eliminate barriers to funding, offer mentoring and coaching opportunities, empower marginalized communities, and mobilize young people to tackle global challenges such as climate change, gender equality, education access, and employment opportunities.
Despite the challenges young people face and the disparities they experience, youth-led initiatives hold immense potential for advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The EU Youth Empowerment Fund, facilitated through the Global Youth Mobilization, will simplify the funding process, making it more accessible for grassroots youth initiatives.
The fund will also provide mentoring, coaching, and capacity-building opportunities, helping young people develop resilience and leadership skills. Importantly, young people will play a central role in all aspects of the fund, from selecting grant beneficiaries to participating in project design and implementation.
The first activities of the Youth Empowerment Fund are set to commence in late 2023, with the first grants being disbursed to young people in early 2024. This initiative promises to empower youth to lead the way in driving positive change in their communities and contributing to the achievement of the SDGs on a global scale.