Young Global Leaders visiting Belfast for the #90YouthVoices programme 2024 ©

Pacemaker press

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Global Youth Leaders Come together in Belfast for the British Council’s '90 Youth Voices' project 

Belfast played host to a group of 20 young leaders from around the world last week as part of the British Council's "90 Youth Voices for the Future" initiative. This project, celebrating the British Council's 90th anniversary, is bringing together young people from around the world to explore critical issues shaping our communities and cities worldwide.

The Belfast programme delivered a blend of cultural activity, policy engagement, and hands-on community experiences, showcasing Northern Ireland's commitment to youth development, cultural collaboration, and sustainable urban growth.

Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland, spoke about hosting the group in Belfast: There is so much happening in Belfast and across Northern Ireland at the moment, and it’s been a wonderful opportunity to work with partners including Belfast City Council’s #Belfast2024 team to showcase our city's, creativity, vibrancy, and commitment to renewal and the future. I’ve no doubt we’ll see continuing impact from the connections made in the months ahead, here in the UK and beyond”. 

Key highlights for the Belfast programme included:

  • Global Representation: Young leaders from countries Country list is incorrect, should be Ghana, Greece, Bangladesh, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Egypt, Romania, Scotland participated, offering an international perspective on urban challenges and solutions.
  • Civic Engagement:  The group toured Parliament Buildings, Stormont and found out about how it engages with the NI Youth Assembly, gaining insight into Northern Ireland's political processes and youth involvement in governance.
  • Environmental Focus: A "Wild Belfast" tour and presentation on local environmental advocacy highlighted the City’s biodiversity and conservation efforts.
  • Urban Regeneration: Visits to projects like the "Manifesto for the Alleys" and the Green House showcased Belfast's creative approaches to urban renewal and sustainability.
  • Arts and Culture: The group attended an amazing open-air performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Lyric Theatre, emphasising the role of arts in community building.
  • Community Interaction: Through walking tours, visits to local initiatives, and meetings with community leaders, participants gained firsthand experience of Belfast's unique history, character and background.
  • Technology and Innovation: A visit to Brink at Belfast Stories introduced the young people to innovation around climate tech.

Pantelis Karamanisa a participant from Greece, shared his thoughts: "Inspired by Belfast’s 'SHOW SOME LOVE,' I've seen how art can serve as a powerful medium for social change, and highlight marginalised voices. This approach could be adapted in Greece by creating public art projects that address social issues and providing platforms for groups like refugees and other communities in need”.

The timing of the programme coincided with the UK general election, providing a unique backdrop for discussions on democracy, civic engagement, and the role of youth in shaping political futures. The young global leaders visited Parliament Buildings, Stormont to hear more about the NI Youth Assembly and had the opportunity to observe the electoral process in action, gaining insights into the UK's democratic system and the particular dynamics of Northern Ireland politics. 

The participants described Belfast as an inspired backdrop to discuss urban development, sustainability, and the role of the culture in bridging divides. Helping to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the British Council, The 90 Youth Voices programme has been designed as a platform for young people to come together to engage on issues that affect us all.

The programme continues the British Council's commitment to fostering international understanding and empowering young people to become agents of positive change in their communities and beyond.