Youth from Central and Eastern Europe present their vision at COP24

Young Water Professionals from 11 countries of Central and Eastern Europe gathered at COP24 to advocate for youth engagement in decision-making processes.

Chosen among the 46 participants of the Youth Voices Policy Choices dialogue and Summer School Towards Agenda 2030, they had the chance to present the Central and Eastern European youth vision, strategy and messages at different sessions, to both policy officials and peers from other youth organisations.

Active youth participation in sessions and side events

Youth-COP24On 4 December at EU Pavilion, the Youth Voices organized a session on Youth for Water and Climate that explored the influence of local actions policy making and vice-versa. The presentations and panel discussions were followed by an interactive session, in which all participants brainstormed on how to tackle climate challenges and how youth can contribute to the solutions.

Another huge success was the youth-led session Meet the Expert: Youth from CEE, held on 6 December at the EU Pavilion, during which the young water professionals had the chance to present the Youth Voices Policy Choices project and idea, and directly engage with significant actors. Youth were also part of the panels at UNESCO session on Youth-Led Research and Innovation that provide solutions for Water Related Climate Change challenges on 6 December and the Global Water Action Event on 7 December.

Youth-COP24Every day at GWP booth, in the informal and cosy setting of a Tea Talk session, youth had the chance to meet and talk with an expert from different organisations contributing to the 2030 Agenda – UNESCO IHP, WMO, SIWI and GWP. The experts provided them with insights on the changing climate and meteorology, the links between different institutions and organizations, and adviced them on their further engagement in policy.

Youth Voices -> Policy Choices

The aim of the project is to empower youth to communicate effective policy messages about the water and climate issues, which matter to them. The project included with a wide-ranging survey to collect information on youth involvement in the decision-making processes in water and climate and an interactive platform for a dialogue between the youth and policy-makers. During the dialogue, the participants presented their messages, concerns and identified solutions to the decision-makers, who gave them a feedback and advised them on future steps.

Youth-COP24As a last step of the project the youth presented these message to officials, decision-makers and peers at COP24 in sessions and side events. To make the campaign more attractive, youth delivered their messages also in an interactive form of cards with hidden messages, which could be seen only through special ”youth vision” glasses. The campaign allowed youth from Central and Eastern Europe to explain their vision and engage directly with all who was interested, attracting not only many other youth from different region, but also decision-makers from their own countries. Several youth managed to organise a follow-up meetings at the ministries of their countries to discuss the current youth involvement in policy and legislation.

Reflections from youth

”I learned that no matter how insignificant you feel, you can always make a difference. I learned that with small steps you can reach your goals no matter how crazy they are. I learned that communication is very important in order to establish strong connections with the people. During COP24 I got my confirmation that networking is very important if you want your voice to be heard. I learned how to create connections with professionals and politicians and I learned about this kind of diplomacy that you need to have when you approach or discuss with a decision-maker.”

Catalin Cimpianu, Romania

 ”At COP24 I learned how decisions are being made and how complex and complicated it is. It was encouraging to find out that there are really many organisations that try to fight climate change and make the world better. I also learned how important it is to speak up, be visible and active if order to be able to convey our messages.”

Eva Kremere, Latvia

 ”It was my first COP and I was impressed by the variety of issues discussed at COP starting from the very political issues and ending with the very practical solutions or scientific discussion.  I learnt more about IPCC work and different efforts from scientific community to bring the messages to decision-makers. I knew before that it is hard, but now I realized that at international level it is so much harder and complex than at the national level.”

Yulia Danilenko, Ukraine

The dialogue Youth Voices → Policy Choices has been made possible thanks to a collaboration between Solidarity Water Europe, GWP CEE and Youth Water Community Central and Eastern Europe (YWC CEE), and the funding from Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission.