Members of the first ever Kingdom Youth Parliament (KYP) and National Committee got acquainted on Monday, May 19, and shared more about their aims and objectives prior to the official start of debates today, the Daily Herald announces. Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix is set to open the KYP this morning at the University of St. Martin. Five teams of ten youths, who have been preparing for three months, will engage in debates on various issues that affect young people now and in the future, such as education, culture, sustainable development and children’s rights.
Some questions addressed will be: What do young people think about the actual binding factor within the Kingdom? Why do we learn so little about the Caribbean islands in the Dutch secondary schools? How can we shape the future in a sustainable manner so that all citizens of the Kingdom can benefit from it? What can we as young people contribute to shape our future? At the end of the meeting, a final statement will be presented together with the answers to questions asked. Additionally, concrete action points will be set out that each KYP member is expected to take on board in their respective countries.
The youth debate arose from the need to approach the Kingdom from a different perspective, as they wanted to represent more than just the Netherlands. The event is the third national event organised by the National Committee Bicentennial Kingdom, following other celebrations at Scheveningen beach and in the Knight’s Hall in November 2013, and the Constitutional Festival in March. It will be followed by three more events in Maastricht and Zwolle in September 2015, and will in Amsterdam.
The selection process was heavily influenced by the youth as well, who used social media creatively to attract a diverse group with different backgrounds. According to Ron van der Veer, Secretary of the Committee Kingdom Relations, the first day is set up to include interesting, political topics that will essentially spark the debate by tapping into differences of opinion on more controversial topics, such as “people who live in the Kingdom should have to speak Dutch.”
The BES Islands will have their own team even though they are technically a part of the Netherlands, so that their cultural identity would also be represented. However, for most debates, all team members will be shuffled around so that different teams will also work together during debates. Jury members will use a scoreboard to give points to individual members, and only through that will the respective countries gain their points. In other words, it is not simply a matter of country versus country.
Interestingly, ambassadors representing all of the islands do not currently live in their respective homes, because they are away furthering their studies. However, they managed to use technology to communicate and practice, as well as keep each other motivated. Whenever possible they flew home to meet the others, but these opportunities were limited.
The Kingdom Youth Parliament idea was conceived by Ron van der Veer, Secretary of the Committee Kingdom Relations, together with five young people: Trumane Trotman, Marifer Aguirre Broca, Carl Fielmich, Kennedy Ogenio and Aster van Tilburg. Assistance with regards to content was provided by Roderick van Grieken and Else Nieuwkerk of the Dutch Debate Institute; organisational support by a number of enthusiastic volunteers, in particular Tanja Fraai and Wendele van der Wiele. Other support was received by Annelies Olivervan den Assem, the University of St. Martin and Connie Francis Gumbs of the St. Maarten Youth Council. The Dutch Debate Institute will lead the official debate and has helped with the preparatory sessions. Each team has a coach with a lot of expertise and the various topics will be highlighted by a group of experts. The event will continue with workshops, debates and dinner on Wednesday, establishing of the final statement on Thursday, and a farewell party on Friday when members are set to depart.