Successful Baltic Youth Camp
Over one hundred youths from more than fifteen different countries met in Gdansk to get their voice into the mainstream politics of the Baltic Sea Region.
30. May 2019
Written by Ida Johnsen Ingrebrigtsen
Youths from all the Baltic Sea states were this year invited to attend the Baltic Sea Youth Camp 2019. From the 8th to 11th of June over 100 youths from the age of 18 to 25 came together to create a better and more sustainable future for the Baltic Sea Region. The camp would produce a Youth Declaration that was presented to important stakeholders and politicians. Furthermore, the Youth Declaration was presented at the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Annual Forum where this year’s topic was “Circular and sharing economy as an answer to demographic changes and environmental challenges in the Baltic Sea Region». Both the Youth Camp and Annual Forum was this year held in Gdansk, Poland.
During these four days the youth participated in seminars, workshops and presentations related to the Sustainable development goals (SDGs). Topics such as waste management, forestry, marine life and education were discussed. It was very clear that the participants were very engaged in the topics - the discussions continued outside the formal arena created by the organisers. As the world faces the threats of climate change and its consequences, it was important for both the organisers and the participants to focus on the SDG’s throughout the camp.
“You see a formal forum during the day and a more informal forum at night. The whole day is filled with different discussions and I’m learning so much. It is a true learning platform at all times.” - Malthe Kjeller, youth participant
All countries in the region were represented and it was a great opportunity to learn from other people’s culture and experience. Most participants stayed in rooms with a person from a different country in order to continue the cross-culture experience. Not only did the participants attain more knowledge about the current situation in the Baltic, but they gained important knowledge about the differences and similarities between them as individuals.
“Norway is perceived as a very good country, but we are far from perfect. Therefore, it is so nice to come here and learn so much from other people and other cultures. It is important to try to have a better insight into ourselves.” - Ina Maria Finnerud, youth participant
The programme also contained cultural topics which focused on the importance of honouring the cultural aspect of international cooperation. Building on this the ARS Baltica provided an alternative view on dialogue that focused on the creative aspect. Marcus Hagemann said at one point that “Culture goes beyond and unites”. This became very clear in one of the workshops where the created an a cappella performance using the different sounds and languages from the different countries represented. Thus the camp did not only create a platform for discussions based on science and politics, but also acted as an arena for attaining knowledge about the diverse cultures in the Baltic region.
“I share a room with a person from Estonia. We have both learned a lot from each other already. It is so exciting to learn about new cultures” - Gven Haton Rigi, youth participant
The politicians and stakeholders that were present at the last day of the camp when the projects were presented were very impressed. Chairman of the Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation (BSSSC, lead partner of the Youth Camp) Roger Ryberg said he could not be more pleased with the work the participants had done. He also pointed out the importance of trusting the youth and giving them a platform to excel.
«We are in an urgent time in terms of the environment. It is important to see that we have to create a green future. The youths are taking such a powerful role in this process» - Roger Ryberg.
The Baltic Sea Youth Camp 2019 is only the beginning of a larger focus on the voice of the youth. There are immense knowledge and perspectives that we are missing when the young are not included at the decision table. The ideas presented in the Youth Declaration show innovative ways of getting closer to achieving the SDG’s and also an improved Baltic region. The participants have high hopes about the future and show that they also have solutions to some of the issues that the Baltic is facing. As the youth are the future, it is important to include such perspectives when mapping out the road ahead.
The youth are motivated and will keep on working for to get a seat at the table – nothing about us, without us!
Summary by the youths
The summary below is made by four youths from the youth camp. It contains 10 proposals that are both feasible and realistic in terms of implementation. The proposals are different projects that are generated and planned by the participants of the Youth Camp. Throughout the process of creating the projects, the SDG’s were fundamental and it is evident in the final result. At the Annual Forum the Youth Declaration was presented and consequently the youths were admired for their great work. It is apparent that the voice of the youth is only growing stronger in the Baltic region. The final declaration will be made available at a later stage.
Baltic Sea Youth Camp – Nothing about us, without us!
We, the participants of the Baltic Sea Youth Camp, young people from all over the Baltic Sea Region worked hard to develop new ideas and projects for the region, back to back with the 10th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in Gdansk. Together we discussed the current issues and those of tomorrow concerning the Baltic Sea Region. We discussed and formulated demands for policy-makers and developed projects to tackle the challenges.
The Baltic Sea Youth Camp was initiated by Martin Rümmelein, a youth representative board member of the BSSSC. The vision was to create a camp which will work on a common youth declaration with the contributions of young people from different regional organizations and living in the region. This declaration will combine all the existing youth declarations that haven’t been taken serious for too long. The voice of the youth who inherits the decisions of today is louder than ever before in the Baltic Sea region.
To sustain our effort and ensure youth participation in the future we call for the inclusion of the Baltic Sea Youth Camp in future EUSBSR Annual Forum budgets.
Furthermore, we demand a single youth platform located at the CBSS to connect young people virtually and physically and interact to implement our ideas in the future. The aim is to enhance cooperation between different Baltic Sea organizations and to give a real voice to the youth.
Therefore, we are proud to present the main projects we have developed throughout our meeting:
1. The youth of the Baltic Sea region envisions a Baltic Sea Music and Culture Festival (Baltic Crocodile Festival). The festival shall be intergenerational, inclusive for everyone and gender equal, as well as free and outdoors. The festival shall happen in different countries every year and be related to a youth event in the specific area. Connecting people, creating visibility and making cultural awareness fun, in a sustainable way. A festival for everyone, organized by the youth.
2. To achieve our goals, we see education as one main facilitator. To address the very young in our region we imagine a book for children promoting the SGDs that is designed by artists from the region. Find more information about the project on the facebook page: ‘Baltic Sea Belongs to Kids’.
3. We envision a university on a ship crossing the Baltic Sea. Focusing on SDG 13 and 14, namely ‘climate action’ and ‘oceans and seas’ the university will ensure research-oriented, interdisciplinary and intercultural learning. The results shall be discussed with the societies, where the ship docks to transfer the gained knowledge and outcomes and to take the considerations of the societies into account.
4. Young people should be given more advice for mental health. Volunteers shall visit schools and talk to youngsters in a safe space. This could help to reduce the stress in schools and create a better environment for youngsters to grow up.
5. Young people all over the Baltic Sea region are struggling to make their career choices. We suggest creating a deliberated career choice platform to help students and young professionals to find an ideal career for their talents and to create a more prosper economy.
6. Digitalization is one of the major challenges of the time. To communicate information clearer and to lower the threshold of participation, we envision the development of an inter-regional online application. The basic information about organisations active in the region and their projects should be transparent.
7. The Baltic Sea Region should work for a more green and healthy forest. The wood consumption should be balanced through a better forest education, support of youth initiatives and the ban of clear cuts.
8. The Baltic Sea includes 7 of the 10 large marine dead zones in the world and we see pollution as one of the key issues of the region. Cooperation and communication of the different stakeholders is needed in a more specific and effective way to preserve and restore the health of the sea.
9. The Baltic Sea Region shall produce the least amount of waste in the world. Therefore, we demand concrete measures regarding tap water, maritime transport, education and green choices.
10- In this regard, we also plan to reduce plastic in our everyday life. We envision a common pant system, the prohibition of plastic and common regulations on usage of plastic, as well as the promotion of alternatives.
Our proposals are based on the SDGs and combine the ideas of more than 100 participants in the Baltic Sea Youth Camp. They are feasible and realistic to be implemented.
We will continue to work on our projects. And we will make sure the Baltic Sea Region will be a prosper and sustainable area for everyone to live a healthy life.
More information on the outcomes of the Baltic Sea Youth Camp can be found on our website: balticyouthcamp.org
facebook: Baltic Youth Camp
and Twitter: @BalticYouthCamp
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Video summary of the Baltic Youth Camp 2019