EUROPARC Youth Manifesto

EUROPARC Youth Manifesto – 1st Workshop May 2018 in Cairngorms National Park (Glenmore Lodge Aviemore, Scotland)

A Call for Change in Rural Communities and Protected Areas

The EUROPARC Youth Manifesto is a source of ideas and inspiration for decision-makers in Protected Areas and rural communities to ensure the involvement and empowerment of young people.

Young people play an important role in looking after our Protected Areas: They are the decision-makers of tomorrow and they are capable to help leading the way to a sustainable future of our parks already today – if they get the chance to have their say. It is vital that young people get involved in the governance of Protected Areas, so they can share their perspectives on the issues that will impact their future development and that of our natural and cultural heritage. And it is now that they can develop thoroughly the skills it will take to manage resilient parks and build sustainable communities.

Across Europe, Protected Areas and rural communities face similar challenges: They struggle to engage meaningfully with younger generations. Young people and families are the future of rural places in Europe, and yet they are increasingly moving to more urban places, that promise good education, viable jobs, more diverse career opportunities, reliable infrastructure, tolerant mindsets and greater freedom for self-development. Young people leaving parks and rural areas means the next generation of teachers, politicians, rangers, doctors, managers, conservationists and farmers are moving away – the future stewards of our natural heritage, our cultural landscapes and the biodiversity they are home to.

Youngsters engaged with EUROPARC Conference delegates at their info stand and asked them to write down their opinion: “Why is it important to involve youth”? ©Konatsu Hagita

All this has direct effects on our nature as well as on the well-being of our communities: It affects the vitality and resilience of parks and rural areas, which need the creative potential of a diverse community.  All young people have creative potential that needs to be fostered. Working in partnership with the youth in your region allows you to get innovative together and create real opportunities for youngsters to keep living, learning and working in their rural environment and communities; ensuring environmental stewardship and creating more dynamic and future-oriented communities.

clear, consistent and coordinated approach to engaging young people meaningfully in rural communities and the natural environment is needed…

…and this is where the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto comes in

In spring 2018 a group of youth from across seven countries gathered to create the EUROPARC Youth

Manifesto. A document that shall draw the attention of Protected Areas, environmental organisations and rural communities to the challenges of their youth. An inspiration to meaningfully engage with young people in their area for tackling those challenges together.

Asking and listening to the youth. Calling decision-makers to action. Inspiring youth empowerment and cooperation across generations at local levels. This is what the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto Project 2018 was all about. This is our invitation. We are ready to take action with you – now we need you to respond” (EUROPARC Youth Manifesto Project 2018)

Download your copy below and get inspired by the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto…

Click on the image to download the English Version of the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto – more languages will be soon available.

…and meet the young folk who created it on behalf of youth from Protected Areas and rural communities across Europe

Around 40 young project participants, aged 16-25, from Scotland, England, Wales, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, Italy, came together in two intense workshop weeks.

Youth exploring the surroundings in Kalajoki.

In May 2018 participants gathered in the Cairngorms National Park for a first workshop week, that was all about experience sharing, ideating and eventually drafting the Manifesto. Besides all the thinking they got to spend some time in the outdoors of the Cairngorms and experienced a traditional cèilidh.

In our June News you can get an idea of their week and work. 

The second project workshop in June took the youngsters even further up north, to Kalajoki, Finland. Youngsters gathered with some new faces joining the project to finalize the Manifesto, discuss youth governance, learn about designing youth projects and to start planning the final presentation of their work to delegates at the EUROPARC Conference in Cairngorms National Park 2018!

Read in our July News how the youth engaged in workshops, writing and crafted some willow whistles during the final days before Finnish Midsummer.

The Launch: Calling decision-makers of Europe’s Protected Areas and rural communities to action

Throughout their summer holidays, Youth Manifesto project participants stayed connected to work on the official launch of the Manifesto on the final day of the EUROPARC Conference in September 2018 – surprises included. Youngsters were around for the whole event to spread the word about the Manifesto; sharing with delegates their perspectives on challenges and needs of youth in their rural and Protected Areas during field trips, lunches, dinners and coffee breaks. However, the youngsters were not only there to talk. They had come with the mission to inspire real action – and to encourage others to get active, the best way stays: walk the talk and move yourself first! So, the night before the official Manifesto release, youngsters entered the stage and performed a short theater and flashmob dance, inviting everyone to dance along.

Youngsters calling delegates at EUROPARC Conference to (dance) action with a flashmob performance. ©Konatsu Hagita

A symbolic moment, with a clear message: don’t worry if you don’t have the solutions or know the exact steps to take right from the start. Just join in, follow the youth and create your steps together with them.

Youngsters showed in a playful way, that they are capable to contribute with skills we need to create a sustainable future for our European Parks and rural communities together: creativity, joy, some courage – and fresh ideas. All we’ll need to respond with is an open mind, curiosity to learn with the youth and trust that creating together is the way forward.

Take a first step, connect with your local youth – this may mean attending schools and youth clubs. It can also be as easy as having a first exchange of thoughts and ideas with the young people you know personally.

The official launch of the Manifesto and the pledges made by the youth fell on fertile ground. The young presenters energized the audience, and took delegates on a video journey through the project and pitched the Manifesto to delegates.

Youth pitching their Manifesto to a full audience on the final day of the EUROPARC Conference 2018 in Cairngorms National Park. ©Konatsu Hagita

The presentation was a memorable experience, as every young Manifesto representative on stage shared examples from their personal lives or that of peers growing up rural.Their clear message reached delegates. They rushed to receive a printed copy of the Youth Manifesto and discuss ideas with the young ambassadors after their presentation. First project ideas were discussed and some of the youngsters had the chance to work out concrete plans for follow-up action with delegates and authorities in their parks and communities once back home.

The EUROPARC Conference 2018 has marked a promising starting point. Now we need to keep the momentum going: Kick-off is now!

Feel free to get in touch with us for questions and make sure you keep us posted about your ideas to implement the Youth Manifesto in your area: youth_at_europarc.org.

We’re thrilled to learn about your projects inspired by the Manifesto very soon, so we can connect and make them visible throughout our European network. Let’s take action for change and co-create sustainable Protected Areas and resilient communities together!

Make sure you follow the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto Project on Social Media and check this page regularly to keep up to date with implementing the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto across Europe

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The EUROPARC Youth Manifesto was created as an output of a transnational LEADER project, led by the Cairngorms National Park Authority in collaboration with the three Finnish LEADER groups Rieska, Keskipiste, and Ravakka; the Cairngorms Local Action Group; Scottish Natural Heritage; Young Scot and the EUROPARC Federation. The project supported the Scottish Year of Young People 2018 and will continue into a second year. Following up the Manifesto launch with an “Innovation and Planning Workshop” in the Cairngorms National Park and three innovative community partnership projects with young people to be planned in 2019

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… more on EUROPARC activities with Youth in parks? Sure.Here!

Learn about our activities for young people between 12 – 25, empowering them to grow close connection with nature and learning skills for life while exploring the outdoors together with peers and Rangers.Get an idea of our Junior Ranger Programme aimed at young people aged 12-18.

Find out about opportunities with our Youth+ Programme aimed at youngsters over 18….And follow our Youth+, Junior Rangers and EUROPARC Youth Manifesto project on Facebook!