Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes Participates in Young Americas Summit

On June 8th, Foreign Minister of Panama Erika Mouynes participated in a Young Americas Summit panel discussion with the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, and Permanent Representative of Peru to the Organization of American States, Harold Forsyth. The Young Americas Forum is a platform for youth to be actively involved in the Summits of the Americas. This year’s focus was centered on tackling top issues facing the region and how young people can play a role in the future of the hemisphere.  

Opening the discussion, Minister Mouynes highlighted the need for young people to serve as catalysts for change. Noting the erosion of trust in politicians across the Americas, she emphasized the need to boost political representation among youth so that “young people are not only listened to but have a proactive role in the decisions that are going to affect them in the future.” When asked about the political unrest experienced by the region in 2019, of which many participants were from younger generations, Minister Mouynes noted that although strong social programs were able to curb civil unrest in Panama at the time, activism remains an important tool for giving representation to young people who otherwise don’t feel like they have a voice.  

On the topic of representation in democracies, Minister Mouynes stated that “it’s time to think about deep structural changes that will allow our current democratic systems to have effective representation.” She emphasized the importance of closing the gap between the decisions being made at the government level and the realities of what local populations are calling for.  

Also, of critical importance to the region, Minister Mouynes spoke on the climate crisis and how young people can lead the way in implementing sustainable policies and holding their representatives accountable for change. She noted that current decision-makers are defined by a monochromatic group of the same gender, and that “we need representative change if we really want to help the future of our climate.” She continued by saying that “we need to search for the mechanism, which is why I touched on activism, to bring these changes to fruition.” 

Minister Mouynes closed out the discussion by recognizing that young people understand the gravity of climate change as they are the ones who will have to experience its future impact, stating that “the ones best disposed to make difficult decisions, such as on climate change, are the young populations. That’s why it’s so important that they are involved in the process and given the opportunity to participate in the decisions that need to be made.”

The full discussion at the Young Americas Summit can be streamed here.