Baltic Leaders meet in Elblag

On 23rd May 2017 ‘Baltic Leaders’ joined the second ERB Executive meeting of this year. Baltic Leaders are 5 young people between 16 and 25 years old, selected as representatives of the Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodship to take part in the LB-EME project (Baltic Leaders- Energy of the Young Europe). The aim of this project, ideated by ERB to contribute to “European integration and development of contact and cooperation between societies”, is to increase the access to knowledge, related to the international cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. The promotion of this plan has been going on in the Youth Leadership Council of Warmińsko- Mazurskie Voivodship Youth Council since April.

The meeting, that took place in Elbląg, is only one of those that the Baltic Leaders will attend: the most important being the upcoming ‘Nothing about us without us, make it happen!’. The youth conference, organised by the three pan-Baltic organisations ERB- Euroregion Baltic, BSSSC- Baltic Sea States Sub-regional Cooperation, and UBC- Union of the Baltic Cities, will take place in Berlin on 12th-13th June in the frame of the 8th Annual Forum on the EU Strategy for Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). It will be certainly an important opportunity for networking and discussing for young people, who are the leaders of the future for the fulfilment of the goals of saving the sea, connecting the region and increasing its prosperity.

Baltic Leaders’ first meeting has been the first step in the implementation of LB-EME project. The latter aims to involve young people from local communities, to give them a voice, to prioritise their needs, and to find a way to involve them in the policy-making process, in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie region (Poland).

What emerged from a first discussion, is that youth perceive different issues that could be categorised into a lack of connectivity within the region (e.g. public transportation should be improved), and lack of youth’s participation. The level of engagement among young people can vary because of different reasons related to free-time, interests, awareness, and attitudes. Apart from this, young people perceive a difficulty in getting in touch with local authorities, also due to a communication gap; thus, it seems that a ‘common’ language needs to be detected. To reach the first conclusion, young people suggested enlarging the use of social networks and digital solutions to organise on-line meetings, to create a youth network, and to promote events, not only in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie region but also in the other Baltic States.

Since Baltic Leaders project works in connection to the CaSYPoT project (Capacity Building for Strategic Youth Policy and Transnational Cooperation), the CaSYPoT forum, that will be started soon, will be used as a platform to connect young people across borders. Other ideas that emerged are related to youth mobility and study visits to improve youth’s knowledge about the culture and traditions shared by the countries in the Baltic Sea Region.

These ideas have been shared also with Ms. Janne Vikerødegården, coordinator of the Youth County Council of Hedmark (Norway), who was present via Skype at the Baltic Leaders’ meeting. LB-EME would like to learn from previous best practices, and it seems that in this case the Council of Hedmark can be taken as a good example. The Youth County Council has launched an exemplary Youth policy implementation that is highly innovative in the European scenario on youth cooperation. It works at different levels: local-regional-ENCN, and aims at creating a level that can reach the national government/parliament. Young people represent all youth in their municipalities, organise training on public speech, and support free discussions. This well-structured initiative gives young people voice in the development of youth strategies.

Hoping that the Youth County Council of Hedmark will provide Baltic Leaders with valuable advice, we will keep you up to date on the future achievements.