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"Demanding and very creative - but also realistic"
On the 7th of June an international youth delegation of Young Ideas for Europe participants visited Brussels to hand over their European Action Plan “New Energy for Europe” to EU decision makers. The 16 youngsters came from 9 countries (Greece, the UK, Italy, Latvia, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Lithuania and Cyprus) and took part in the second ever European hand-over event. “It was an honour – and it was great fun” was John from Cyprus’ verdict at the end of the day.
The European hand-over event began with an informal get-together on the evening of Wednesday the 6th of June. There the delegation finally got to meet in person: The youngsters had already been in touch virtually, working long and intensively to draw up the European Action Plan. At the get together the group got to know one another, prepared and coached one another on how they would present the Action Plan, and drew up questions they would like to ask the next day. Tired after travelling to Brussels and from sightseeing before the get together, the youngsters headed off to their hostel ready for an intensive next day.
The first part of the European hand over event was a debate in the European Parliament with patron MEPs. Having already taken part in debates with youngsters at the end of YIfE project weeks in their constituencies, the patrons Raimer Böge MEP and Ulrike Lunacek MEP were keen to further support the project and to discuss the European Action Plan with the international delegation. After a presentation of the key objectives and measures contained in the Action Plan, Raimer Böge thanked the youngsters for their work and commented that their ideas were “demanding and very creative – but also realistic”.
One idea the youngsters were particularly keen to get the MEPs feedback on was their idea that the EU should lead by example on reducing unnecessary travel, and only have one seat for the EP. The debate which followed with the patrons helped to really make European politics come to life and gave the youngsters quite some insight into the complexities of European decision making. But the patrons too benefitted from the exchange, with Ulrike Lunacek pointing out “it is also helpful for us to meet young people, to get to know what you think – you will be the ones to shape our common European future”.
After the debate, the youngsters were invited to lunch by the office of Karin Kadenbach MEP, where they got to quiz her staff about what it is really like to work at the heart of European politics. After lunch they were treated to a tour of the European Parliament by the office of Katarína Neveďalová.
Already impressed by how much time the MEPs had spent discussing their ideas with them, and how they had been received, the youth delegation went on to the highlight of the European hand over event: A meeting with EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard. After a warm welcome and having their photo taken with the Commissioner, the delegates presented their ideas to the Commissioner and sought her feedback on the European Action Plan. The Commissioner spent nearly an hour engaging in discussions with the youngsters, answering their questions and offering insights from her work at national, European and international level on climate protection. She also asked the youngsters for their ideas and advice on how the EU might be able to do more in the area of climate protection and to bring about changes in behaviour.
Back at the office for a quick debriefing session, the youngsters were thoroughly enthused by the whole experience. Drawing up and presenting the Action Plan struck Anne Sophie from Denmark in particular: “I think we made some great compromises in drawing up the Action Plan – and it’s great to see that and to present it and to say it’s ours!”, whilst Janis from Latvia was struck by “how much time the MEPs took to speak to us and that they were really interested in our ideas and what we think”. “It was an honour” John said, whilst Ermina from the UK was thrilled “to have made so many new friends – and from such different places – you guys are just great! The whole to days have been just great!”.
Europe in Berlin: Action Plan delivered to the Danish Ambassador and the Head of the EU Commission Representation
On the 1st of June, eight German participants of Young Ideas for Europe delivered the European Action Plan "New Energy for Europe" to the Danish Ambassador Mr Per Poulsen-Hansen, representing the Danish Presidency of the European Council and to the Head of the EU Commission Representation in Germany, Mr Matthias Petschke.
The students represented their schools from Bensheim Berlin, Bremen, Schleswig and delivered the Action Plan, which compiled the ideas of around 1000 Young Ideas for Europe participants from 27 EU-member states. Focusing on the topics energy supply, CO2 reduction and energy consumption, the students discussed their various recommendations with both EU politicans.
The hand-over event in Berlin began with an informal get-together on the evening of 30th of May. The students had the chance to visit the German Parliament and to learn more about the work of the Germand parliament and the political system in general.
One day in Brussels - Swedisch youth delegate Carolin Oredsson writes about her experience during the hand-over event in Brussels
The experience of Young Ideas for Europe, both in my home country Sweden and in Brussels, has widened my interest in environmental politics and also given me more of an insight into the workings of politics, especially concerning the environment. Both positive and negative experiences of viewing and communicating with politicians facing a huge challenge concerning climate change has given me a lot of perspective, as well as meeting youngsters from different countries in Europe with political interests- sometimes differing in opinion and often feeling passionately about the same issues.
The project lasted for a week in Sweden and was a real eye-opener. Working together and discussing as a group as well as talking to experts and politicians, I felt that I learnt so much and started thinking in a whole new way. Everything felt possible, and that was a great feeling that I try to carry with me. Julia and I were naturally very excited when we were told that we would represent our group during the hand-over in Brussels, and tried our best to represent the opinions of everyone in our group.
After a meeting on Skype and some final work with the action plan we arrived in Brussels, ready to face the politicans and proudly present what we had come up with. Meeting people from other cultures is always fun as well, and everyone was easy to cooperate with. We were very excited and hopeful for our meetings the next day.
Just being inside the Berlaymont and the European parliament was a real experience. We started off at the Berlaymont to speak with the minister of renewable energy, which we expected to be extremely exciting. The conversation we had with her was absolutely interesting, but made Julia and I feel rather hopeless. She admired our thoughts and aspirations, but underlined that they weren’t realistic.
The tour of the parliament was a bit overwhelming but impressive- big and flashy. It was great speaking to the three politicians, but sadly only the Slovakian representative could stay for a longer while. She also claimed impressed by our idealism, but also pointed out that we were being unrealistic. Oh well, realism has never really been my (or Julia’s) thing. It was, however, a very important insight into a world of beaurocratics and negotiations that take decades, and people trying to agree on things when they all have different interests. It made me want to try harder to make things happen, which I think is a big part of what Young ideas wants to achieve.
I’d like to thank the Robert Bosch foundation and everyone at Young ideas for Europe for this opportunity. It will be something I’ll carry with me in the future, and a very good learning expereience for someone, like me, who’s passionate about environmental politics.
by Carolin Oredsson, Sweden, participant of Young Ideas for Europe
International Youth Delegation hands over Action Plan in Brussels
On the 13th and 14th of July, an international youth delegation travelled to Brussels to hand over the European Action Plan to the European Commission and the European Parliament. The 9 youngsters from 7 countries had all taken part in project weeks in January to March 2011 and had worked to compile the European Action Plan.
“It is very good to see you are already dealing with these big topics” said Ms. Gerhards, Member of the Cabinet of European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, when she met the delegation on the morning of the 14th. She discussed the ideas presented by the youngsters in the Action Plan and gave the group valuable insights into the work of the Commission. Ms. Gerhards was also able to bring in her expertise on new and renewable energy resources in discussing the ideas presented by the delegation. She urged them to get to know the EU’s work even better via the Commission’s internship scheme: “We need young people who have not given up their idealism – or their enthusiasm!” she stressed at the end of a lively and open discussion.
In the afternoon the international youth delegation met with a group of past and future patron MEPs of Young Ideas for Europe for a debate in the European Parliament. Kinga Göncz MEP (from Hungary), Katarina Nevedalova MEP (from Slovakia) and Nadja Hirsch MEP (from Germany) all discussed the European Action Plan with the youngsters, building on their previous debates during the project weeks which they attended as patrons and getting to know the project as patrons of future project weeks.
The discussion focused on the differences between Member States and the implications for the ideas contained in the European Action Plan. These differences were ones the youngsters themselves also experienced in their work compiling the Action Plan. Kinga Göncz was keen to applaud their work: “I want to congratulate you – this is an excellent document” she said.
The next European Action Plan will be put together following the Young Ideas for Europe project which will take place in the autumn. We very much look forward to involving more youngsters from more countries in the project weeks, and hope that Julia, a Swedish member of the international youth delegation, they too will find it a positive experience: Young Ideas for Europe is a once-in-the-liftetime opportunity for youngsters to speak to powerful European politicians at eye level - and to bring in new ideas about the future of Europe.”
Action Plan Delivered to Spanish Ambassador Rafael Dezcallar y Mazarredo, representing the Spanish Presidency of the European Council
Young Ideas for Europe delivered their Action Plan "New Energy for Europe" to the Spanish Ambassador Rafael Dezcallar y Mazarredo, representing the Spanish Presidency of the European Council.
Students from the Victor Klemperer Kolleg delivered the Action Plan, which included the input of 1000 Young Ideas for Europe participants from 18 European countries. The students discussed the various recommendations with the Ambassador, which ranged from affordable renewable energy to limiting the use of electricity per capita. The Ambassador was impressed with the students' engagement in climate protection and energy policy through Young Ideas for Europe: "We need you as citizens for Europe, Europe needs projects like these!"
UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and "Sustaining People and the Planet: a Fair Deal in Copenhagen" in Malmö
Margot Wallström: "It was the young people who asked the best questions!"
"As usual!" the Vice-President of the European Commission remarked, after listening to the demands of the youth representatives - among them participants of Young Ideas for Europe who took part in the international conference "Sustaining People and the Planet: a Fair Deal in Copenhagen." The event was held by the Road to Copenhagen Initiative in Malmö, Sweden on December 8-9, 2009. More than 150 participants representing civil society, business and legislators gathered to explore the necessary drivers for ensuring that the deal reached at Copenhagen be based on climate justice: human rights, technology transfer and financial mechanisms which ensure fair burden sharing. The Road to Copenhagen Initiative is chaired by Margot Wallström, Margot Brundtland and Mary Robinson.
Young Ideas for Europe was, together with the Global Humanitarian Forum's Youth Forum and Save the Children, invited to make the voice of young people actively heard at the conference. A delegation of eight participants from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden jumped at the opportunity and voiced their opinions in the conference workshops on climate justice, financing and technology. These were chaired by the three prestigious patrons of the initiative. An even better opportunity for the young participants to present their ideas about the challenge of climate change was then offered to them in the form of their own workshop. Hosted by the Youth Forum and Young Ideas for Europe, the event focussed on intergenerational dialogue and the demands of the Youth Forum's "Copenhagen Manifesto" were complemented with concrete ideas of how to implement them. Small lively discussions groups drew up the results; among the participants were Gro Harlem Brundtland and Mary Robinson, together with the young people. The discussions were moderated by representatives of the Youth Forum.
The results: the revised nine demands of the "Copenhagen Manifesto" are listed below. These were then presented by the youngsters themselves in the conference's plenary and served as an introduction to the discussions on the Road to Copenhagen initiative's final communiqué. Again, the chairwomen were impressed by the quality of the work of the young people.
Straight after the conference, the three chairwomen went to the COP15 in Copenhagen to hand over the conference's messages and communiqué to the UNFCCC Secretary General Yvo de Boer. Upon receiving the communiqué he strongly recommended delivering these recommendations to all Ministers and Heads of State and Government that will be arriving at the COP15 in the coming days. ”It is a strong sign of encouragement to them to really live up to public participation from the young, businesses, and parliamentarians, and to do something here in Copenhagen that is significant.”
Not only did the Young Ideas for Europe participants manage to gain valuable experience through the "Sustaining People and the Planet" conference in Malmö, through their participation in the COP 15 as accredited observers they were able to approach a wide range of organisations and institutions and gain new insights and new ideas.
Co-Chair of RTC Conference, former Prime Minister of Norway and current Special Envoy on Climate Change to the UN Secretary General Gro Harlem Brundtland with YIFE
Co-Chair of RTC Conference, former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson
Co-Chair of RTC Conference and Vice President of the European Commission Margot Wallström with YIFE
Click here for the Final Communique!
"Business Day" with the World Business Council on Sustainable Development in Copenhagen
Björn Stigson, President of the WBCSD with YIFE
Three Swedish representatives of Young Ideas for Europe took part in this year's Business Day of the Geneva-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in Kopenhagen on December 11, 2009.
What was the event all about? Global Business Day is a yearly gathering of global business leaders at the climate change negotiations (COPs) where these leaders debate and promote the business perspectives on the climate change agenda. This year's event, as in Bali and Poznan before, was organized by the WBCSD and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). This year it was co-organized with the Confederation of Danish Industries (DI) as a local partner.
It brought together some 400 participants, including UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, business leaders, among them 22 company CEOs, and representatives from civil society.
Young Ideas for Europe was invited to present the voice of youth and the three students from the Spyken Upper Secondary School in Lund tackled the challenge successfully. They raised their questions and formulated their ideas regarding the cooperation of business and politics in the issue of climate change and concerning the "2050 future" - in the plenary as well as in the workshop "Envisioning our 2050 future". Their contributions were well received - as a member of the workshop said: "Thank you for your contributions. It was terrific. We need your voice.” Last but not least Björn Stigson, president of WBCSD, was very interested in the Action Plan of Young Ideas for Europe. Overall, for the representatives of Young Ideas for Europe it was a great experience."
Photos of the event
Information on the Business Day of the WBCSD
Swedish Embassy in Berlin
Swedish Ambassador to Germany impressed by Young Ideas for Europe and its Action Plan 2009
"I am delighted to see that the topic (of energy and climate change) is being addressed in schools and that young people get involved in it", Swedish Amabassador to Germany Ruth Jacoby said on the occasion of the visit of German Young Ideas for Europe participants at the embassy in Berlin on November 18, 2009. The students from the Rudolf Diesel School in Erfurt, Thuringia, a vocational training school, presented the results of their Young Ideas for Europe project week and the Action Plan 2009 to the Swedish Ambassador as the representative of the Swedish government which currently holds the EU Presidency. They discussed their ideas with Ambassador Jacoby, who also talked about the role of the EU Presidency and the importance that energy policies and the issue of climate change have for her government. Moreover, she gave her opinion on the ideas presented in the Action Plan. The Action Plan consists of demands developed in the course of Young Ideas for Europe project weeks Europe-wide and was put together by students from all countries, who participated in the initiative until mid-October 2009. The Action Plan makes e.g. a plea for more education about climate change policies for high school students attending all educational institutions. Especially this demand impressed Ambassador Jacoby, who promised to hand over the Action Plan to her government. She was confident that the Swedish ministers will be as interested in it as she is: "The influence of such a paper may be bigger than generally expected." At the same time she stressed that the young people themselves have a responsibility to become active - as the next generation that has to continue tackling the challenges of energy issues and climate change. This event is one of several in which Young Ideas for Europe and its Action Plan 2009 will be presented to political decision-makers.
To hear the podcast (in German only) of the event go here.
To see photos from the event go here.
To read the Action Plan go here.
Conference on Education for Sustainable Development: "EU as Global Actor" in Lund
Young Ideas for Europe was invited to take part in the Conference on Education for Sustainable Development: "EU as Global Actor" in Lund, in connection with the Swedish EU-Presidency. On September 29th Sara Engström and Anna Svensson, two participants in the Swedish Young Ideas for Europe project week, presented the initiative and their ideas for a climate-friendly European energy policy to conference participants hailing from over 30 countries. The conference was aimed at examining education for sustainable development (ESD), as well as the European Union's role in promoting ESD as part of the European lifelong learning programme.
In their speech, Anna and Sara explained the initiative, and expressed confidence in their future: "We came up with a lot of creative ideas on how to solve environmental issues. It made me realize that there is hope for the future, there are so many things we can do to save the earth! ...The fact that we knew that some of Europe’s leading politicians would hear our ideas made it feel a lot more serious, but also a lot more fun."
The conference was organised by, amongst others, UNESCO, The International Programme Office for Education and Training and the City of Lund. Hans Ljungqvist (The International Programme Office for Education and Training ), one of the lead organisers, was impressed: "Having the Young Ideas for Europe students at the conference was very enriching for the conference as a whole. Young ideas for Europe was the only truly European, concrete project! Moreover, since the students presented the project themselves, we were able to see a youth perspective on how Europe can be brought into the classroom."
The participation of Young Ideas for Europe in this conference was only one of several events planned in the context of the Swedish EU-Presidency. More information on upcoming activities will be found here shortly.
For more information about and documentation from the conference, please visit:
"It was really interesting to talk to important
persons during the workshops. They are just
regular people, and I felt equal to them - not
like when i see them on the television. Here I
realised, that politics can be made around a
table...The table discussions were important,
my ideas were being brought forward there.
And yes, our ideas are being heard!"
"It was amazing that these high-level
persons were so accessible for us, and it
was good to see what people do concretely
to tackle political problems."
"I feel very privileged, that this experience has
given me the opportunity to interact with high-
level politicians – on an equal level! I think I
have found what I want to do in life – become
"I really liked it. We did great work and if was
given the chance, I would definitely do it again.
I learnt a lot that I can use in my future life. And
my English has improved!"
"The most exciting week I have ever had!"
(Marek, Czech Republic)
"I have never met so many people from
so many countries in my life before. It
has definitely given me more self-
confidence. And I believe that it has
made all of us think over and make
decisions over our lives."
"I really like the workshops. The feeling
that someone listens to us was great!
And even greater that this was confirmed
many more times! ... I also enjoyed
working with the young adults from the
Youth Forum, they had more experience
and therefore we could learn a lot from
them. Still, they listened to us, so the
co-operation was great."
"This experience has really been a great
possibility...I now see a light in the dark
future (reg. climate change). We have
learnt how negotiations on a high-level
work. It was exciting to meet with experts
and learn from them. I have now become
much more interested in this topic and