As a researcher, it is rare to come across a ‘thinking environment’ which often stimulates innovation and out-of-the box thinking. For those who aren’t familiar with traditional research settings it involves the likes of old, out-dated university buildings, the routine of data analysis, reading literature and writing. The academic world continues to make little provision for innovation and it really is a case of either you publish and you publish fast in high-end journals or you perish. The JRC on the other hand is the first research organisation I have come across which is built on models of foresight, vision and practical thinking. For example, last year the young leaders literally created a wall depicting our visions for 2030- #exciting #cool! This year was no different, JRC reached out to the young leaders once again, by stimulating thought around implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). #EDD16 Young leaders were invited to JRC to start brainstorming ideas, which then culminated into a session reaching out to the broader global community through four groups.
The set-up reminded me of recent episodes of Merlin I’ve been watching, where King Arthur gathers the Knights (not forgetting knightesses- PS a female version we had to create for purposes of the SDGs) of Camelot at a round table to ensure equality at the table, with input and frank discussions. Okay, the tables in the JRC session weren’t round, but I would say that around these square tables, facilitated by JRC staff together with Young Leaders with modern utensils such as creative flip charts levelled the playing field and stimulated dynamic in-depth discussions from each participant at the disfferent tables. Below are summaries around some of the discussions which will be taken further during a high-level panel on 16 June- A conversation with Young Leaders.
Group one discussed different forms of education, including the importance of informal education, microfinancing for women and the importance of boosting the economic situation of young people.
Young Leader Sana Afouaiz (Morocco) reporting back to the audience.
Group two highlighted different inputs from stakeholders at the table, example pushing for change through faith-based organisations, UNICEF representatives touched on the importance of technology and other discussions focused on the role of partnerships.
Young Leader Rose Sakala (Malawi) reporting back to the audience.
Group three discussed various topics, including changing mindsets, shaping possible practices through positive thoughts with a glass-full approach, mobilising youth digitally and physically and most importantly creating human-centred development.
Young Leader Vandinika Shukla (India) reporting back to the audience.
The group also raised concerns around meaningful education which breeds change-makers or those who conform to norms and pursue education to find employment.
Young Leader Alan Andres Jarandilla Nuñez (Bolivia) reporting back to the audience.
Now of course there are various critiques of these discussions, example the applicability of faith-based activism in our modern age, although best to leave such critiques in the hands of our capable young leaders for the planned session/ conversation tomorrow (16 June 2016)!