Beyond EITI Basics – Engaging Youth

Gisela Granado tells how two EITI implementing countries work together to ensure youth ownership of their EITI.

What does the Caribbean twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago have in common with its EITI counterpart Liberia? In August 2013, an inquisitive 16 year-old Liberia EITI Youth Champion crossed the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean Sea to find the answer.

Meet Angel Yalartai. Angel is a Liberian high-school student, with aspirations of studying law in the footsteps of her mother, the Liberian Minister of Labour, Mrs. Juah Lawson. Angel represented her school, St. Teresa’s Convent, at a major inter-school debating competition organized by the LEITI Secretariat in June 2013. The judges crowned Angel “Most Valuable Debater” and awarded her the prize of a sponsored two-week exchange with the Trinidad and Tobago EITI (TTEITI) Secretariat and TTEITI Youth Arm.

Ensuring EITI ownership in coming generations

The TTEITI Steering Committee created the TTEITI Youth Arm in September 2012 in recognition of the need to engage youth on the management of their patrimony. The programme aims not only to increase local ownership of the EITI process by the next generation, but also to ensure maximum use of the data in the EITI Reports by young persons, thus facilitating the transition from transparency to accountability.

The TTEITI’s engagement of the nation’s youth also began with a debate. On Monday 29 October, 2012, young persons from secondary schools and tertiary education institutions participated in the 10th National Youth Parliamentary Debate on an EITI-themed topic.

This initial engagement and several Youth Consultative Fora around the country laid the foundation for a vibrant TTEITI Youth Champions Programme. From among the participants, Youth Champions have been identified to be trained to take leadership roles in the programme and to spread EITI messages to their peers.

On August 24, 2013, Angel participated in the TTEITI Third Youth Champions Training on Communicating the EITI. In preparation for the release and wide dissemination of the first TTEITI Report on September 30, 2013, the TTEITI Steering Committee trained Youth Champions on effective media and communications skills. Angel and the TTEITI Youth Champions honed their skills through mock media interviews with ‘merciless’ local reporters.

During her stay in Trinidad and Tobago, Angel participated in several workshops to learn about the country’s rich oil and gas history and its EITI implementation to date. Teenaged TTEITI Youth Champions also ensured that Angel visited the country’s beautiful beaches in Trinidad and in Tobago, tourist attractions such as the Asphalt Lake at La Brea in the South of Trinidad and, of course, the country’s various Shopping Malls. It is hoped that this is but the first step in a worldwide movement to engage Youth in EITI implementation and to provide similar exchange opportunities for the youths of Trinidad and Tobago.