Editor's Note, 23/11/2016: Unfortunately, Max de Boer has withdrawn his candidacy due to unforeseen personal circumstances.

On the 29th of September 2016, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) nominated me for the Board of the European Youth Forum (YFJ) 2017 – 2019.

Gratefully, I have accepted this nomination, which has filled me with a strong sense of duty to pursue my vision and priorities while staying faithful to my personal mission and values.

With this blog I would like (1) to elaborate on my vision, priorities and actions for the YFJ as a Board Member, (2) explain my vision for the elections, and (3) illustrate how my profile makes me a valuable addition to the board.

My Vision and Priorities for the YFJ

My mission, which drives and leads me daily, is to promote social-consciousness within our European society. Unfortunately, current political realities are severely mismatched, which poses an agonizing European future for our youth and the next generations to come. However, the risk of such an agonizing European reality can be prevented through stronger collaboration and interaction between our MOs.

I envision the YFJ as a platform that brings our members closer together, exchanges best-practices and works cohesively together towards a future envisioned by our youth. Because the MOs stand at the heart of the YFJ’s work, there are three key aims when following my vision: (1) narrowing the knowledge gap among the MOs (2) building stronger MOs and (3) creating equal opportunities for our youth across Europe.

This vision will serve me as a basis to successfully fulfil my role as a Board Member of the YFJ. Concretely, based on my envisioned agenda, I would like to focus on the following two key priorities during my mandate (1) stronger youth organisations and (2) education, non formal education (NFE) and youth employment.

Priority (I): Stronger Member Organisations

Starting with my first priority, I would like to focus on building out the capacities of our MOs through developing knowledge exchange tools and platforms, because the MOs stand at the core of the YFJ. Particularly, as a Board Member, I foresee to work on two key mechanisms to build out the capacities of the MOs: the (1) ‘Pool of Trainers’ (PoT), (2) the YO!Fest and the European Youth Event (EYE).

First of all, I would like to further develop an understandable, accessible and strong PoT. This requires a common understanding of the aim and purpose of the PoT. Therefore, the ideas for the development of the PoT should be based on the needs of the MOs and the Forum.

Secondly, I would like to take over the responsibility for the work portfolio of the upcoming YO!Fest in Maastricht and the next version of EYE. With my educational and professional background in event management and having been involved in both events as a participant and partner, I am eager to contribute with my knowledge and competences to further develop these events. I believe that the YO!Fest and the EYE are key events to showcase the MOs’ work, foster cooperation between the MOs and foster the relationships with the stakeholders.

Last but not least, based on the draft work plan, other envisaged work areas would be the advocacy for recognition of the role of youth organisations in society, development of regional youth platforms and the empowerment of MOs to be more diverse and inclusive. These three work areas are key to further build out the capacity of our MOs and the representation of the Forum.

Priority (II): Education, Non-Formal Education (NFE) and Youth Employment

For my second priority, I would like to focus on education and NFE as my priority policy fields and youth employment as supporting policy field. This requires on the one hand an individual approach to each policy field such as quality education, recognition of non-formal education and youth employment. These individual policy fields are are all equally important. On the other hand, it also requires a holistic approach to all three policy fields, in order to support the process of lifelong learning but also design an ‘education to employment system’ that works.

I strongly believe that the MOs are key to enhance the dialogue between practitioners and policy makers in order to proactively propose and implement policies. Knowing that the coming two years will be crucial for the shaping of the next European agenda, we need to ensure that the voice of young people are reflected in the negotiations of the policies in these fields.

The YFJ has shown a good approach in actively involving MOs in the policy making process, such as the creation of the networks and the expert groups. These structures have been a solid basis to involve the MOs at an early stage in the policy making process. Further innovation of the structures can be adapted in order to ensure a higher level of engagement from the MOs.

A Board of Good Governance and Content-Based Elections

However, these envisioned priorities and actions can only be achieved with a board that will function as a team according to the ‘Good Governance Manifesto for the YFJ’. Only a board functioning on the basis of the manifesto will result in an environment where each Board Member can achieve his or her priorities and in the end create value for the MOs.

Additionally, this also requires that the upcoming elections are content based. Only when these elections are content based, the next elected board can progress as a team based on the MOs vision and ideas for the YFJ. From the candidates’ application forms, one can see that all the nominated candidates have a clear vision, strong priorities and the integrity to govern YFJ. It is essential that these visions, priorities and candidates are strongly aligned in order to make progress for the upcoming board years. Therefore, I appeal to all the MOs to share their ideas, visions and content transparently to all the candidates and have a content-based dialogue with the candidates and among the MOs during the elections.

A Different Perspective within the Board

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for the support of my nominating organization, ESN, but also the support of the ‘Exchange Group’ and ENGSO Youth for my candidacy. I fully understand the responsibility of this nomination and support.

This support is also partly rooted in the knowledge that I can bring a different perspective and added value to the board based on my educational and professional background. Two concrete examples how to leverage my expertise and knowledge from my background are (1) by supporting the financial management within the board and (2) by working towards an improvement of processes between the governing bodies in order to establish faster, more-transparent and a less bureaucratic platform.

Now, having outlined my vision, priorities and ideas for action as a Board Member does not imply that they are set in stone. They are open for discussion. Therefore, I invite all the MOs to share their questions, ideas, visions and priorities via the #Askthecandidates tool, mail, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. If you would like to find out more about my candidacy, please find my official candidacy here.

I wish the other candidates all the best and look forward to hearing your ideas, having constructive discussions and making the first progress during these #YFJelections.