The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) invited the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA) to Brussels where a 2 day Youth Dialogue themed “Exchange between the European Commission and Young Europeans about the European Green Deal” was held to promote dialogue and sharing of insights on the measures envisaged by the proposed European Green Deal to preserve Europe’s natural environment and to discuss the key societal changes envisioned for the environment in the EU by 2030/2050. The event was hosted by the EU Commission Directorate General Environment.

The objectives of the event were to kick-start a platform for young influencers and environmental activists to come together and coordinate their messages and campaigns; provide a possibility to discuss how to better communicate and engage with citizens, especially with young people, on the environmental challenges and policies expected to be formed as a part of the European Green Deal, and allow young influencers to discuss future environmental and climate policy with high-level EU officials.

This was a unique opportunity that allowed young influencers to meet each other and discuss how they can make a difference by finding ways to communicate on environmental topics beyond climate action and to get their perspectives shared. The event provides a rare platform for youth to stimulate critical and innovative thinking as it enables young people to envision the future of environmental governance.” Konstantin Schwarz

The workshop facilitated brainstorming on challenges and possible solutions of topics that are often left out from the mainstream narrative on climate action and societal change such as alternative forms of socio-economy, biodiversity and food production, sustainable consumption and production, transport and travel among others. Hence, providing an enabling environment to discuss how young influencers can create knowledge and thus empower people to take action on this matter. IFSA was represented at the event by Konstantin Schwarz, the organisation’s Head of UN Environment Sub-Commission.

Key takeaways of the event include: The EU aims to be a leader of change but is still caught in restrictive conservative concepts and mechanisms which will make a much needed fundamental societal change extremely challenging; large parts of the green deal are still subject to consultation and debate, therefore the civil society still can take an active role in shaping what is ought to be a european future of human and environmental well being; and participants will facilitate to continue the debate by forming a knowledge and exchange network.

There is still a long way to go but it gave hope to work together with many bright minds from different member states with fantastic ideas for an actual just transition and livable future within the planet’s environmental boundaries in the EU and beyond.

This article was written by Konstantin Schwarz, currently IFSA’s Head of UN Environment Sub-Commission. For any queries you can contact him at [email protected]