26 June, 2023

Youth Green Deal Conference Empowers Young Eco-Volunteers for a Sustainable Future in the Mediterranean

by SCI Catalunya

Promoting Cross-Cultural Learning and Emotional Connections Amongst Youth

by: Mar González Martínez, SCI Catalonia

The recently concluded Youth Green Deal (YGD) final conference, under the theme “Youth eco-volunteering in a Euro-Mediterranean context: challenges and opportunities,” was held in Hammamet, Tunisia from the 14th to the 17th of June. This landmark event brought together participants from eco-camps across Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, and Spain (Catalonia), providing a platform for sharing outcomes, discussing project learnings, and shaping future actions towards a sustainable planet.

The YGD project, aimed at building the capacity of youth organizations promoting volunteering in the Mediterranean area, focuses on collaboration with local communities engaged in environmental work. By exploring the intersection of volunteer projects and environmental efforts, the initiative aims to combat climate change and inspire sustainable lifestyles among volunteers and local communities. Additionally, the project seeks to highlight the Mediterranean and global dimensions of climate issues by partnering with diverse organizations.

The conference commenced on June 15th with engaging ice-breaking activities, encouraging attendees from different Mediterranean countries to connect and share the invaluable experiences from various YGD activities. This shared understanding served as a catalyst for task distribution, with some participants sharing their testimonies and participating in panel discussions on specific eco-workcamp topics, while others covered the conference through social media channels, amplifying its reach and impact.

On the second day, the conference welcomed external guests who joined the discussions to provide their expertise. Notably, Francesco Volpini, the researcher responsible for assessing the impact of the YGD project, presented his findings. His report highlighted the significant positive effect of training leaders and providing spaces for engagement and eco-volunteering on the participants. It showcased how the project enabled them to develop knowledge, competences, and skills while fostering emotional experiences and connections within the Mediterranean cooperation process. Participants reported notable increases in their overall satisfaction with life, attributing it to the combination of intercultural learning, hands-on activities, and personal and interpersonal growth intrinsic to the volunteer experience. This combination stimulated active engagement and enhanced self-worth, contributing to collective efforts in creating a happier Mediterranean region.

The conference officially commenced with registration and an opening ceremony, setting the stage for 18 months of shared learnings, experiences, and outcomes among associations from both sides of the Mediterranean. Through interactive sessions and non-formal education, the conference gained valuable insights from academics, organizations, and specialists in climate change-related subjects, providing a robust foundation for promoting environmental justice among young, engaged citizens in future initiatives.

Undoubtedly, the most impactful aspect of the YGD project lies in its influence on young people. Through project activities, these passionate individuals have found unwavering support for youth-led environmental initiatives, further fueling their dedication to a sustainable future. The YGD conference served as a dynamic platform, fostering cross-cultural learning, emotional connections, and proactive engagement among young eco-volunteers.

The project’s focus on training leaders and providing spaces for engagement and eco-volunteering has yielded remarkable results. Participants have witnessed significant growth in their knowledge, competences, skills, and overall satisfaction with life. By actively contributing to the building of a happier Mediterranean region, these young individuals are shaping a brighter and more sustainable future for all.

As one participant shared, the eco-camp experience provided a platform to voice concerns about the planet’s future, shed light on the Israeli occupation in Palestine, and learn about non-violent resistance. It emphasized the significance of preserving the land for future generations. Eco-construction emerged as a practical and hopeful method of resistance, offering a sustainable future while addressing pressing challenges. The conference’s attendees united in supporting initiatives like the eco-camp in Palestine, recognizing that collective efforts can lead to lasting change.

In conclusion, the Youth Green Deal conference stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, cross-cultural learning, and emotional connections in fostering a sustainable future. By harnessing the passion and dedication of young eco-volunteers, this initiative is driving positive change in the Mediterranean region. Let us stand together, taking action today to build a more just and sustainable world for all.


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