The Panamanian youth led the dialogue towards the Summit

Panama City, Panama, March 10, 2015 – The Convention Center of the City of Knowledge was the stage where on March 5, 2015 a Youth National Dialogue was held. The Dialogue gathered around 100 young people from different parts of Panama. The Dialogue is part of the preparatory process leading to the IV Young Americas Forum – an official activity of the VII Summit of the Americas.

The Dialogue consisted of workshops that focused on topics like education, public safety, environment issues, democratic governance and citizen participation; these are 5 of 8 topics to be discussed in the VII Summit of the Americas “Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas”. Each workshop was moderated by experts in the corresponding field; also, specialists shared content and resources to enrich the debate among the young participants.

Dialogue participants were selected from an open call that received a total of 529 postulants, organizers said. Participants arrived at the capital on March 4, young people from across the country, including areas with difficult access, demonstrating the momentum and leadership that Panamanian youth have in order to become agents of change and solve problems that their communities are facing.

“Youth are a priority for this government so we set out to make the National Youth Dialogue a representative and inclusive space that allows youth to contribute to democracy and progress in the country”, said Deputy Foreign Minister Luis Miguel Hincapié.

Pedro Vuscovic, representative of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Panama, was also present in the Opening Ceremony as well as Manuel Lorenzo, Director for the Center of Innovation of the City of Knowledge and Edgar Maestre, Program Manager for Latin America of the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT). Valerie Lorena, Executive Director of YABT, shared welcoming remarks from Washington, D.C. via video conference, highlighting the importance of youth participation in the Summit of the Americas and urging participants to be an active part of these spaces.

The National Youth Dialogue is an initiative led by the Government of Panama through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Social Development, in conjunction with the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) in its capacity as Technical Secretariat of the IV Young Americas Forum; with important hemispheric support from the World Bank and with national support from the City of Knowledge Foundation, Global Shapers, the United Nations and the University of Panama.

“My experience in the Dialogue met my expectations and gave me the opportunity to participate in the discussion of important issues and decisions of my country. The Dialogue also allowed the inclusion of indigenous youth in these important areas, this does not occur very often due to the existing communication gap” said Sergio Rodriguez, participant from the Ngöbe-Buglé County.

Meanwhile, Edmavi González, participant from the Province of Panama, said "The dialogue has been a very interesting and rewarding experience, especially because I am a firm believer that youth have the capacity to contribute and this has been manifested today". She added, "Panama’s future is in good hands thanks to the spaces given to young people so that we can participate in the present".

For more information on the VII Summit of the Americas, click here.

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