AEGEE crosses new borders: Marko Grdosic’s experience in the WCY in Sri Lanka

The World Conference on Youth (WCY) took place from the 6th to the 10th May this year in Sri Lanka, involving about a thousand of young people from all over the globe with the aim of increasing the youth presence in the planning of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which is a process led by the United Nation (UN). The Agenda defines new important goals related to seven thematic areas: education, employment, poverty, health, sustainability, world peace and recreation (sports and cultures) as explained on the official WCY 2014 websiteMarko Grdosic (AEGEE-Zagreb) took part in the event and The AEGEEan met him in order to understand the meaning and the importance of the World Conference on Youth 2014 better.  

Hi Marko, thanks for having us. You took part in the World Conference on Youth 2014 in Sri Lanka. Why did you decide to participate in such an important event?

In the past years, I have attended many conferences on the European level and, after hearing many people share great experiences with the United Nations linked events, I thought it would be good for me to attend one as well. The conference had a very broad focus on youth, it was linked to the UN Post-2015 Agenda, and I believed that my contribution would be a valuable one for the conference.

What were your initial expectations regarding the WCY?

Knowing the United Nations working structures and the influence this conference potentially had, I was expecting very vibrant discussions, lots of different opinions and tangible outcomes. I was also hoping for a fair representation of governments ensuring the relevance of the outcomes and further inclusion in the Post-2015 Agenda.

Were those expectations fulfilled?

The conference did, indeed, bring lots of diversity to discussions, ensuring that perspectives from various angles were taken into account. Different opinions and situations created a global approach we aspired. At the same time however, the representation of governments was not as expected. Many countries failed to send their representatives, especially from Western Europe and North America. The ones participating showed great interest in the topic and made the days in Colombo more interesting. I truly hope that the low participation won’t influence the life of the outcome document and that it will find its way to the Post-2015 Agenda.

What’s the most important memory you have about this experience in Sri Lanka?

Throughout the past seven years I have been involved with the youth sector and I have attended many different conferences, congresses, meetings on the European level. However, this conference brought a totally new perspective to my thinking and made me realise the diversity of the world. While in the ‘European environment’ the issues are more or less known, the topics discussed very similar and the possible actions vary very little, attending this world conference brought a totally new perspective to discussions, and made conclusions harder to reach. In Europe, we tackle our issues in a certain way and I feel we pretty much ignore the rest of the world, especially the poorer continents. As rapporteur on Good Governance, I faced many issues gathering approaches from European, American, Asian and African young people. While some seek for better inclusion of youth in decision making processes, some are simply asking for more democratic elections, less violence and more tolerance.

Therefore, agreeing on final global recommendations was a hard task, but it made the final outcome that much better and enjoyable. Knowing that so many perspectives were considered, so many different angles taken into account and so many different voices heard is the best memory and lesson one could have taken home.

Would you recommend other AEGEEans to take part in the next WCY? Why?

Definitely! As said before, we often attend events on European level, some internal of AEGEE, some external. At the beginning we learn a lot about other people, their countries, their cultures, habits. But sooner or later, we will realise the close links students from Vilnius and Ljubljana, for instance, have. Once you visit a conference of such global scale, you don’t just discover a whole new perspective to diversity, but you also discover links between European students you haven’t been noticing before.


Written by Larisa Smajlagic, AEGEE-Verona