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Back to school: How activists in Belgium are engaging EU Leaders


Earlier this year in March, we kicked off our Youth Ambassadors programme in Brussels. Unfortunately only a few days later, the COVID-19 pandemic began, turning the world upside down. Despite these difficult times, ONE’s Global Activists around the world have worked harder than ever to ask their representatives to respond to the health and economic crises created by the pandemic.

In Brussels, our amazing team of Youth Ambassadors saw amazing successes calling on EU leaders and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to step up — even as they had to shift their work online. Specifically, they asked EU leaders to:

Stand in solidarity against the pandemic and invest in an ambitious long-term EU budget

More than 250 Youth Ambassadors from more than 10 countries sent a letter to European heads of state and government, calling for an ambitious budget to push for a collective response to COVID-19 and support the people and countries most affected by the pandemic. The letter was published in several local outlets across Europe, including Expresso, Ravenna Notizie, and Hetstreekblad.

They also sent over 100 postcards to their heads of state, shared press releases that were picked more than 20 times by local media, and shared thousands of tweets and video messages to call on their representatives to vote for an ambitious aid budget and choose a future free from extreme poverty.

Make the EU invest in Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

After sending emails, calling Members of the European Parliament, and even reaching out to them on the social media, Brussels Youth Ambassadors made sure 60 MEPs were on our side to ask the EU Commission for an ambitious investment in Gavi. And what a success! The Commission finally pledged 300 million Euros for Gavi! Read more on their Gavi campaign.

Wondering what’s happening in the coming weeks?

After a small summer break, the Brussels Youth Ambassadors are coming to the European Parliament to hold important conversations with MEPs on vital topics, such as making health the EU’s next priority, equitable access to vaccines, and ensuring Africa can fully recover from the economic backlash of the pandemic.

They will be meeting (virtually of course!) with about 33 members of the European Parliament to speak about how we can collectively handle the COVID-19 crisis and live in a fair and just world for all and ask them to commit to:

1. Making health a permanent priority in the EU’s long-term investment. Health should not be a privilege but an absolute right for everyone. We need leaders to not only end this pandemic as quickly as possible, but also prevent the next one by making global health security and human development a permanent political priority.

2. Making any future COVID-19 vaccines and treatments available and affordable to all, regardless of wealth or nationality. Because in the race for the development of a vaccine, no one should be left behind. Not only because it’s ethical but because it’s the only way to eradicate the vaccine. As our now famous quote states, “none of us are safe until all of us are safe”.

3. Helping Africa recover from the pandemic’s economic crisis by helping to build a fairer financial system. Even though the virus knows no borders, it has wreaked its worst in the countries and communities least able to withstand the shock. We want European leaders to stand in solidarity with the countries most affected by the economic crisis. To do that, they must promote sustainable fiscal, monetary, and debt policies that will guarantee an equitable recovery.

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