NEW YORK, OCTOBER 1 – Simone Mostratisi and Giulia Parenti are the new Italian Youth Delegates. They arrived in New York on the 26th of September and will today begin their first week of work.
Giulia, from Rome, studies at the University of Bologna, where she is at her second year of a Masters program in International Sciences and Diplomacy. Simone, from Turin, studies International Sciences in his home city. OnuItalia spoke with them on their first day at UN Headquarters.
How did you learn about the Programme and what inspired you to apply?
Simone: Through the Student Movement for International Organizations (MSOI), of which I was always a member, I learned about the Youth Delegate Programme when it was launched in 2017. My interested in the Programme grew in 2018 since Pietro Fochi, the Youth Delegate for 2018, is a good friend of mine. When the position was posted this year, I though that, despite my young age, I had something unique to contribute. I was furthermore curious to learn about the workings of the United Nations.
Giulia: I learned about the Youth Delegate Programme through the Twitter profile of SIOI (Italian Society International Organization). I remember seeing the application during the Executive Board week of the World Food Programme, which was meeting in Rome. At the time I was interning with the Delegation of the European Union at the United Nations, and thereby had the opportunity to participate at the meetings of the Executive Board. It was a hectic week. During one of the few moments of tranquillity I submitted my application thinking, ‘why not?’.
What agenda awaits you for the following week? What are your expectations?
Simone: a full agenda awaits us this week. We will participate at all the side events, those organized by the other Youth Delegates and those organized by the different delegations. On Wednesday we will deliver our speech to the General Assembly. The topic we have selected for this speech is the protection of cultural heritage. We hope that this topic will be met with support in the Assembly and enthusiasm among our peers.
Giulia: Negotiations on the Youth Resolution also await us. On the 2nd of October we have a preliminary meeting with the resolution’s facilitators: Portugal, Senegal and Moldovia. Our ambition is to ensure that our topic -the protection of cultural heritage- is included in the final version of the document.
Could you please elaborate on your chosen topic: the protection of cultural heritage. Why did you make this choice?
Giulia: Our topic is the role of the youth in the protection and promotion of cultural heritage. From an international perspective, we have made this choice for the following reason: if we, the young people, work to protect the cultural heritage of our respective country and learn to explain to our peers in other countries why this cultural heritage of ours is valuable, then we can defeat prejudice, thereby paving the way for dialogue and resolution. We believe that most international conflicts are born from prejudice.
From a national perspective, the protection of cultural heritage has a huge potential for youth employment. Furthermore, Italy -historically speaking- has always devoted great efforts to the protection of cultural heritage in times of conflict. They proposed the first resolution on this topic in the Security Council and they are the first Country to have established a dedicated police unit specialized in crimes related to cultural heritage. All of this with the idea that preserving cultural heritage is vital for peace processes.
You are here, in New York, to represent the young Italian people. What have you done to gather the opinions of the Italian Youth on the themes most relevant for your mandate?
Simone: Other countries which participate to the Youth Delegate Programme organize consultations, during which the Youth Delegates travel around the country to collect thoughts and demands of the youth they represent. In Italy, such process don’t exist yet, given that the Programme is still at its beginnings. This left us space in the decision of a topic, which we however selected keeping in consideration the positions of our country and of our youth.
Giulia: Although we didn’t have the opportunity to do the consultations, we are both very active in student associations, which we have frequently consulted. I myself founded a non-profit organization for the alumni of the BA in Global Governance in Rome: the Global Governance BA Alumni Association. Through this association I had the opportunity to consult the alumni and newcomers of my course. The topic was therefore our decision, but also a well-grounded decision. This being said, our hope is to establish, during the course of our mandate, a consultation platform in Italy.
As Youth Delegates, what responsibilities and tasks are you assigned? Do you feel that your mandate gives you sufficient space to speak, be concretely listened to and have an impact?
Simone: Our responsibility is that of representing Italy, which is a great honor but also a task that ought to be carried out with caution. We also have the responsibility of representing youth people, a difficult task given their heterogeneity. Not all young people have the same needs, priorities and demands.
Giulia: Our mandate is undoubtedly a great honor and offers us incredible opportunities. However, our colleagues met with their Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers, while Italy’s Youth Delegates have never had such meetings scheduled. We would like for these meetings to happen, so to be able to bring the voice of young people to our leaders and so to allow for the growth of the Programme, which is still young and not sufficiently followed by the media.
Given that our responsibility is furthermore that of representing young people, Simone and I will be organizing online Q&A sessions.
In your opinion, is the Italian youth sufficiently informed and interested about the UN?
Simone: Today, with the presence of the internet and the media, failing to reach information is very difficult. The Italian Youth is not missing the information, they are missing the interest, the curiosity. This is a further reason why we wish to improve the communication of our Programme on social media, because it’s vital for the Italian Youth to understand that they are integral part of the large and complex machinery that is the UN. If they learn to see this UN machinery as something close and concrete, then their curiosity will be sparked, and from there information will quickly follow.
Giulia: Having studied Global Governance, my environment is obviously well-informed on the UN and its mandate. But this is, to some degree, a bias of our course of study. I imagine that an engineer also knows about the UN, but I doubt that he/she knows its mechanisms, functions and mandate. Our challenge is that of attracting the attention of the youth across all disciplines.
A brief remark about Simone’s response: we are all part of the mechanism that is the UN because today’s problems, like global warming, cannot be solves alone. We are part of the system because we are part of the solution. (SB)