The World Youth Congress “One Young World” announced last Thursday the names of the five political personalities awarded the “Politician of the Year 2023” prize for the impact of their political action, particularly among young people. Among these five winning personalities is the Ecolo-Groen federal deputy, Samuel Cogolati: a first for Belgium since the creation of the prize in 2018!

This global award was launched to encourage youth engagement in politics. Indeed, only 2% of parliamentarians in the world are under 30 years old and 14% are under 40 years old. For Samuel Cogolati, “this prize is an incredible encouragement for all young people who are committed to doing politics differently. We must breathe new life into our assemblies. Because without renewed oxygen, our democracies suffocate. I understand that many young people no longer identify with politics today. As a 34-year-old parliamentarian, it is close to my heart to re-enchant young people with politics. When I was a child, we said “Vivement l’an 2000!”, nowadays, no one says to themselves “Vivement l’an 2050!”, that has to change. I engage in politics to provide a desirable and constructive future for my generation. This award bears witness to this and I am honored by it: yes, our work in Parliament can make a difference, even at the international level! And yes, our environmental struggles, such as the recognition of the Uyghur genocide or that of the crime of ecocide, can go beyond our borders and be recognized.

Samuel Cogolati is also rewarded as the youngest president elected to head the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians within the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). “It is an honor to receive this award alongside the four other laureates, Arielle Kayabaga and Ayor Makur Chuot, presented as the first Afro-descendant women elected to the Canadian and Australian Parliaments, Moko Tepania, as the first Maori indigenous mayor of New Zealand, and Sobita Gautam, as the youngest female parliamentarian in the history of Nepal”.

Together, they succeed, among others, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, Icelandic Minister of Higher Education, Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly in Venezuela, or Joanah Mamombe, a young opposition parliamentarian persecuted in Zimbabwe.

The decision was made by four judges: Laura Chinchilla, the first woman elected to the presidency of Costa Rica, Fatou Jagne Senghore, Gambian defender of freedom of expression, Payam Akhavan, member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and special adviser on genocide to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, founder and director general of the ICAN (International Civil Society Action Network).

The prizes will be awarded to the five finalists at the “One Young World 2023” Belfast Summit, organized next October, in the presence of Bob Geldof, founding musician of Live 8, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner.

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