Access Info Europe and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation are pleased to announce the launch of the Freedom of Information Youth Project, which will raise awareness among young people of the benefits of exercising the fundamental right of access to information for combatting disinformation and protecting democracy.
During the course of the project, the 45 selected young people aged 18-30, residents of Spain and Malta, will be submitting information requests across Europe on issues of concern to them, including fighting corruption, tackling climate change, and advancing transparency in public procurement, migration, and gender equality.
At the launch of the FOI Youth Project on 25 March 2021, the young journalists, researchers, and civil society activists had the first of a series of trainings by experts on the right to information.
“Transparency allows for a flourishing marketplace of ideas, and works as a powerful tool against established powers,” commented Jeremy, a participant from Malta. “I joined the project to refine my skills, increase my awareness on transparency and do my part to preserve our inherent freedoms.”
Elena, a participant from Spain, also shared her impressions after the welcome meeting: “How we define disinformation is the key to know how to fight it. Having a proper response system available to society is the best tool to protect democracy and its values. This project is an incredible opportunity to share ideas with other European young people, learn new approaches and bring that knowledge to the practical ground, through the discussion phase with policymakers.”
Speaking after the virtual launch event, the directors of Access Info and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation explained the importance of supporting the next generation of young users of the right of access to information to help Europe address pressing challenges such as recovering from the pandemic and addressing climate change.
“In a context of growing disaffection towards public institutions and decision-makers, it is crucial that young generations are given the necessary tools to exercise their fundamental rights and take part in global conversations. The right of access to information represents one of those tools.” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director at Access Info.
Also according to Matthew Caruana Galizia, Director of the Daphne Foundation, the FOI Youth Project is “a chance for young people coming from two different realities to debate about the most pressing challenges we face nowadays, including on government transparency and anticorruption practices. Thanks to the project, participants will be able to dive into problems and come up with solutions, together.”
The initiative, funded by Erasmus+, will be carried out over the next twelve months and has been designed to help participants to create a space for fruitful discussions and debates on transparency, good governance, and citizen participation. By monitoring the requesting process together, participants will not only be guided at each step of the way, but also provided with the knowledge to be able to compare different legal frameworks and present final recommendations to national and European policymakers.
Access Info Europe is a human rights organisation headquartered in Madrid, Spain, with a 15-year track record of advancing government transparency and promoting the right of access to information across Europe.