Youth engagement in Strasbourg

From 20-27 October, a volunteer of BEECH POWER – Laura Schubert – supported by the Interreg Volunteer Youth initiative, attended the study session Actions Speak Louder Than Words – ​Youth Engagement, Grassroots Activism and the Future of Democracy.

Held at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg, France, and hosted by the Federation of Young European Greens and the Youth Department of the Council of Europe, the study session drew together forty young climate activists from across Europe.

The week was spent exploring what triggers youth engagement in Europe today, specifically in environmental politics and activism. Topics like the life cycle of societal change, mental health and activism, and the utilization of online tools for societal engagement were each considered through debate, simulation, and group activity.

Participants of the session, all under the age of 30, included environmentally-minded individuals, representatives from ‘green’ NGOs and businesses, and young activists recently elected as Green Party councillors or MEPs. They worked together in groups to develop outputs that will influence the engagement of youth in environmental activism across Europe. This included policy suggestions for the Council of Europe and articles on region-specific environmental issues.

With time dedicated to sharing, Laura presented the BEECH POWER project to this active and informed group – none of whom were previously familiar with Interreg, nor the existence of the EU’s transnational outlook on regional problem-sharing and action (see EU Cohesion Policy). Attendants were impressed to learn that EU funds were allocated to impactful but less commonly-recognized issues like beech forest management across Europe. The presentation inspired a discussion among the group about the signs of environmental degradation in their communities, and how they could be tackled through a regionalized implementation of management guidelines.

The insight and connections gained at this study session will support Laura, a volunteer at the Slovenia Forest Service, in the development of a Citizen Engagement Activity, to be held in December 2019 in Ljubljana. During her volunteership, Laura supports the BEECH POWER team through research and reporting.