On December 11-13th CaSYPoT project partners met in the City of Słupsk. The conference saw the participation of delegates representing local and regional bodies, NGOs, universities, cultural associations from Poland, Sweden, Russia, Italy and Lithuania. Welcomed by Mr Robert Biedroń, Mayor of City of Słupsk, and Mr Per Ole Petersen, ERB Vice-President and Member of the Council of Regional Municipality of Bornholm (Denmark), participants gathered for the presentation of the cross-border comparative report and analyse its results as well as to evaluate further steps to take in order to address issues related to youth in the Baltic Sea Region.
During the conference, held at the Słupsk City Hall and then at the Technological Incubator, participants had the chance to discuss the current state of the project and outline the framework for youth strategies. Ms Cilla Ilahmmer from the Regional Council at the Kalmar County (Sweden) provided partners with information about LUPP (Local follow-up on youth policy), the method used for the surveys. While the method sees young people as a resource, the survey lifts voices of all of them and aims at increasing an ongoing dialogue as well as at increasing young people’s democratic influence. In this regard, EU’s official documents such as the EU Youth Report 2015 and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region have been investigated in order to provide inputs for the joint strategic youth policy that will represent the final outcome of the whole project. As studies prove, the Baltic Sea Region is a peripheral area where on the main problem is that young people leave to metropolitan areas and do not return, the aim is to identify tool capable of supporting and empowering youth.
The presentation of the CaSYPoT final report by Dr Per Dannefjord and Dr Anna-Maria Marekovic from Linnaeus University (Sweden) and Dr Elena Zimovina from Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (Russia), helped to clearly identify common patterns – despite some differences – in the municipalities where the surveys have been carried out: young people would like to have their voices heard and be active within the community they live in; they do not trust politicians; the large majority strongly believe that is going to leave its municipalities to study or work. In the frame of the presentation, a panel discussion involving young people from Poland, Sweden, Russia and Lithuania took place providing further opinions regarding the topics analysed in the report such as leisure time, politics and work. Addressed by Ms Alexandra Winberg – Kumulus and Vice-chair of ERB Youth Board – young people expressed their wish to have a concrete chance to exert influence over the decision-making process when it comes to issues affecting them; to have schools capable of narrowing the gap between what they learn and what’s needed to succeed in the labour market; to increase the number of leisure time activities and make them more affordable; to have more secure public spaces such as city centres; to have a more inclusive society to live in that rejects racism and sexism thus allowing young people to fully developed their personality.
The next panel saw the participation of politicians – Mr. Robert Biedroń (Mayor of the City of Slupsk – Poland); Ms. Lena Granath (Councillor of the Regional Council in Kalmar County – Sweden); Mr. Andrei Kozhemiakin (Deputy Head of Svetlogorsk District – Russia); Mr. Per Ole Petersen (Vice-President of Euroregion Baltic) – and gave young participants the chance to address directly people in charge of policies at local level. Indeed, according to what emerged from the panel as well as from the survey, often the lack of face to face meeting between politicians and youth prevent the latter from having a concrete chance to make its voice concretely heard and then be engaged. Furthermore, it is worth noticing that the discussion revolved also around the fact that instead of preventing young people from leaving small communities it could be wise to find new solutions to attract them. In this regard, Mr Biedroń clearly highlighted the advantages of living in small and medium-sized municipalities and it benefits on health, well-being, social relations and personal development.
The last day of the conference was dedicated to identifying common tools capable of stimulating the dialogue with young people in the municipalities part of the project. Divided into several working groups, participants focused on tools such as face to face meetings, focal groups, youth councils and workshops to learn how to write a civil proposal. Even though all tools are potentially valuable, the conference proved that it is fundamental not only to reach those young people already active and socially engaged but those who are left out. In this regard between March and November 2018, the municipalities involved will start testing the tools selected then providing a comparison about how they have been adapted to the local context.
The conference represented also an opportunity to meet Ms Greta Klotz – Eurac Research, Bolzano (Italy) – and Ms Annalisa Cevasco – Agenzia di Sviluppo GAL Genovese, Genova (Italy) – to evaluate the possibility to set up a concrete collaboration between CaSYPoT and GaYA projects in 2018.