After 5 months of online meetings with the You(th) for Climate Ambition Delegation, it was finally there:: The European Youth Event at the Parliament in Strasbourg. On June 1 & 2 I was honored to represent Suderbyn, Ecolise and CAN Europe to speak up about sustainability and climate change. For 11 days I had been traveling from Suderbyn to Strasbourg. Our delegation challenged each other to have a low carbon footprint going to the event. So to reduce my carbon footprint, I avoided flying and went by ferry from Visby to Stockholm, by Flixbus to the Netherlands, and for the last 600 km I biked 8 days to arrive on May 31 in Strasbourg, France.
Pizza and getting to know each other
It was magical to meet everyone in real life since we only had been in contact online before. Sharing stories of the organizations we all represent while having (in my case vegan) pizza: a great pre-start of the event. Next day at 7:30 we had to check in our group: 20 young people from 17 different European countries and representing organizations on climate change and sustainability. Together with more than 8000 young people and 400 activities, the EYE was about to start!
The You(th) for Climate Ambition Delegation!
The dry toilets outside of the European Parliament made me feel like home in Suderbyn ;)
SDG Quiz, Burning Question and Battle of Ideas
The first activity I joined, together with Niall and Laura from my delegation, was the Sustainable Development Goals and young people: Time to change the world! Having been involved in Erasmus+ the youth exchanges Yes To Sustainability as a participant and as a youth leader, I was curious to hear how the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) was dealing with challenges to engage young people in sustainability. Their experience: make it fun! We were mixed and put in teams of 5 to test our knowledge in a UN Sustainable Development Goals Quiz via www.kahoot.com, indeed a fun way to involve young people with SDGs.
In the afternoon it was time to get on stage during the poetry slam. Battle of Ideas: Man vs Machine. At first, I felt quite confident about my contribution, but when I saw the quality of poems from the other participants I was feeling a bit shaky. Truly well written poems and great performances. In my view, the best poem from a British artist, won. Soon they will all be online to read. I felt humbled to be among many talented young people. It was awesome to share my poetry in front of an intimate audience of about fifty spectators, including support of my delegation.
After the poetry slam, our delegation gathered at the discussion around “The Burning Question: Should Europe take the lead on Climate Action?”An audience filled with young people passionate about sustainability, the answer in this room was a clear YES. To what degree, and in whose mother tongue we should speak wasn’t that clear and that it is important to motivate people less engaged with the topic, was applauded loudly. All ideas were written down by the EYE reporters for the final report going to all Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). A great deal of our delegation was joining the discussion and stayed around for the science slam to support Rosaria Pileci, an Italian PhD in Environmental Chemistry of our delegation who shared her scientific findings on air pollution.
Left: “Sustainable Development Goals and young people: Time to change the world!”, organized by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI)
Right: “the Burning question: Should Europe take the lead on climate action?”
Sustainable cities & Facebook live
During my morning workshop on sustainable cities on the second day, a participant from Turkey told me he knew me from the Instagram post on the @EP_EYE account. It felt good to receive feedback on my bike trip and my day couldn’t get better when I received a button saying INSPIRATIONOF THE DAY from a German youth organization that also joined the sustainable cities workshop.
In the afternoon, together with Zanna, Elias set up a Facebook livestream to report live from the European Parliament. AFter that, we were interviewed by the Forum Of European Muslim Youth And Student Organisations for a project Humans of the EYE.
Photo taken by Forum Of European Muslim Youth And Student Organisations
The closing ceremony in the Hemicycle was an awesome finish of the intense two-day event. After a Mexican wave and some singing, the Vice-President of the European Parliament Ramón Luis Valcárcel held a passionate speech: “You are the children of a modern, democratic and open Europe”. Equally passionate were the burning questions to the Vice-President from the young people in the MEP seats. Questions on hot topics such as the situation in Catalunya, Brexit, Trump, the refugee crisis and the power of multinationals. The Vice-President in turn, shared his views and the views of the Parliament on these challenges for Europe.
After a last glimpse of the Parliament, our delegation continued with our own closing ceremony. This started with vegan burgers at Velicious, which I would definitely recommend if you are ever in Strasbourg, and developed into a fun Karaoke night. “I bless the rains down in Africaaa” and “I’m walking awaaay”, were still singing in my head the next day!
To conclude, it was a unique event. I was impressed by the diversity, inspired by the bright ideas and questions of fellow participants and fellow delegates taking serious climate actions. Overall, I am grateful for the new connections with young Europeans passionate about sustainability and concerned about the future of Europe.
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