INTL Youth Convening Day Four: Coalition Building & Regional Advocacy

INTL Youth Convening Day Four: Coalition Building & Regional Advocacy

Written by Convening participant Florian Scheibein, Deputy Director of Help Not Harm.

Jan Stola of Youth Organisations for Drug Action (YODA) kicked off the day with a session on best practice guidelines for conducting risk assessments. We identified, evaluated and categorized risks in our organizational contexts. Concurrently, we developed strategies to reduce their occurrence and severity.  

Subsequently, we developed regional drug policy movements in four groups comprised of Youth Convening participants from Asia/Africa, Latin America, Europe, and North America/Oceania.

The Africa/ Asia group advocated for compiling a database of harm reduction practices, awareness promotion through mass media campaigns, workshops, seminars, training, and the use of theatre and drama. They also discussed developing targeted education and sensitization of policy makers, parents and communities and adapting policies to each local context.

The Latin American group advocated for mapping and contextually-driven information translation for the development of regional databases, campaigns, guidelines and guides to address common drug-related and associated issues in their regions. Concurrently, they advocated for “special attention and visibility to the traditional indigenous communities, the use of sacred plants and the impact of the war on drugs on them” and participation in world-wide campaigns to pressure governments.  

The European group advocated for mapping and linking services for youth through a mobile application. Through this project, we intend to increase access to services, enhance local and regional Early Warning System structures, evolve ICT service provision, and generate insights for advocacy at local, national, European and international levels.

The altruistic North America /Oceania group advocated for utilizing their financial privilege to make research, money, and resources more accessible to other groups; using their access to resources to run awareness campaigns aimed at amplifying marginalized voices from underrepresented regions, and consulting with other regions to find out about their problems rather their own.

We engaged in shared-learning around the history, hurdles, and successes of organizations during a session on Community Mobilisation. We gained practical examples from YODA, SSDP (US, Canada, Ireland and Australia and UK), the Czech Psychedelic Society, the Global Psychedelic Society, YouthRISE, Help Not Harm, International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD) and the Latin American Network of People Who Use Drugs (LANPUD).   

We discussed intersectionality – a construct which may allow us to understand the many ways people may be oppressed (e.g. a black woman from a socioeconomically disadvantaged area) and the various power relationships and social inequalities that exist in our modern society. We dissected the many ways the state (and other actors) exercise control over marginalized groups. We determined that we must consistently be inclusionary, actively listen to the needs of affected populations, and amplify their voices in all of our work. We committed to constant reflection, education, and advocacy to prevent re-institutionalising and adequately address social inequalities in all newly emerging structures.

We capped off the day with an immersive discussion of organizational budgeting and its relevance for the funding of projects and operational costs.