Our guest bloggers today are Rossella Sala and Martina Palmese, both Youth Ambassadors in Italy.
Have you heard what they say about Italy? That it’s not a country for young people; the population is getting older; youth unemployment is a nightmare; and we – the young people – are a generation of mummy’s boys?
And you know what? Some of this might be true. But we are willing to be part of the change our generation needs. Real change involves all of us, that’s why we became ONE: 30 passionate and motivated young Italians who want to buck these trends. We came together in Rome to be trained as Youth Ambassadors so we can take action to make the world a better place in 2015.
Mondays don’t have a great reputation, but the day our programme kicked off was without doubt one of the best in our lives. We were guided into the world of ONE, learning about the Millennium Development Goals, and the new Sustainable ones.
We understood what it means to be a Youth Ambassador through role play games and got tips on how to influence policy makers. We also brainstormed some creative campaign ideas focussing on our very first duty as Youth Ambassadors: raising our voices to demand the Italian government increased commitment to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.
And our training wasn’t over yet! Luigi Contu, Director of the most important Italian news wire ANSA, gave us priceless hints on how to get media coverage. And last but by no means least, Adrian Lovett, ONE Europe Executive Director, with his unique charisma and passion was able to truly inspire and motivate all of us.
Our second day in Rome gave us the chance to meet policy makers and discuss the new Sustainable Development Goals.
After a hectic start to the day (imagine 30 Italians trying to get properly dressed, pack up their belongings and hop in a cab before 9 am), we were eager to apply our newly acquired advocacy skills. Our first encounter was with Lia Quartapelle, member of the Chamber of Deputies.
It was extremely encouraging to hear Ms Quartapelle’s knowledgeable intervention on the Government’s priorities for the post-2015 development goals and her exciting insights into the government’s upcoming commitment to Gavi.
We then headed to the Parliament to visit the majestic Montecitorio Palace, which was definitely worth the wait at the entrance! While watching the members of the Parliament discuss the new reforms, we wondered if we would ever be able to have an actual influence on their decisions. Will our politicians really care about the ideas of 30 young, idealist volunteers? Or will they just shake our hands and then go back to their old agenda?
We luckily had a chance to discuss this matter with Khalid Chaouki, a Member of the Parliament, and we eagerly listened to his advice about speaking to politicians and influencing “the big fish”.
We put his valuable advice into practice immediately when we met Jean Leonard Touadi, political counsellor of Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Lapo Pistelli, and delivered ONE members’ messages to increase funds for vaccines.
As if our day hadn’t been exciting enough, we then had the chance to meet a true expert on international aid: David Lane, US Ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome and former CEO of ONE. He provided a unique insight on the world of international cooperation and on current global issues in agriculture. Our meeting with him was definitely the best way to end two intense days of training!
Oh, and in case you haven’t seen, last week world leaders met in Berlin to make new pledges for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Thanks to the pressure ONE members across the world helped put on governments, Gavi received an incredible $7.5 billion – enough to save up to 6 million lives over the next 5 years! Minister Pistelli was on hand to announce that the Italian government would provide an amazing additional 100m EUR for vaccines.
We were therefore very proud that our government stepped up to the plate and invested generously in vaccines for the world’s poorest children.
The Italian Youth Ambassadors’ first mission might be accomplished but this is just the beginning. We’ve got loads more in store for this year. Watch out world!