Youth in Europe ready to “Take the lead for Nature”
An increasing number of Junior Rangers (aged 13-17) are turn 18 years old and are keen, motivated and passionate about their Protected Areas and want to stay involved. “We want to be heard” was the clear message from youth to Protected Areas managers at the EUROPARC Youth Conference in 2013. Through contacts with Protected Areas, Rangers and youth, the need for an innovative programme to involve youth in Protected Areas became evident. This is how the Youth+ Programme was born!
The programme offers young people the opportunity to:
- Keep learning about nature conservation in Europe
- Develop leadership skills and play an active role in supporting the work of the PA in the JR programme
- Develop advocacy skills and contribute youth perspective to governance and management of Protected Areas
- Develop communication skills to speak on behalf of the Protected
- Network internationally with peers from Protected Areas across Europe
In the course of the recent years EUROPARC, with the support of an active group of Rangers and Youth, has developed training modules for youth in the field of leadership, advocacy, nature conservation and communication. Those have been elaborated in the course of the 2015 Youth+ Camp, in the Aiguestortes i Estany de Sant Mauricy National Park – Spain. In the course of 2017 EUROPARC has ensured Youth could be more actively part of the Federation activities and specific space has been reserved for them at the Conference in Scotland in 2018.
To help Parks and Protected Areas create their Youth+ Programmes. EUROPARC has published a Youth+ Manual with the aims and purposes of the programme.
The Youth+ program is addressed to Protected Areas and managing authorities member of EUROPARC Federation and it is aimed at young adults aged 18 to 30 years. The Youth+ is coordinated at European level by EUROPARC and managed locally at park level by members and Youth+ themselves. If you want to join the Youth+ Programme, please complete the registration process!
The Youth+ Programme is founded on 4 pillars:
- Nature Conservation
These pillars were indicated by young people as the most important areas for skill development. The goal of the Youth+ Programme should be to help young people develop their capabilities in these areas, so they can become the nature conservationist and activist of the future. The manual offers further information on techniques to develop these key skills, as well as example activities. It is seen as a living document, and we will continue to update it with new inputs from Parks and Protected Areas around Europe developing the Youth+ programme.
Of course, our Knowledge Hub is also full of inspiration. You can find it here:
Youth Representative in EUROPARC Council
The EUROPARC Youth Representative is a coopted member of the EUROPARC Council. They attend all the Council meetings and can give advice and share their opinion on the direction and workings of the EUROPARC Federation as a network. The Youth Representative has a 3 year mandate like all EUROPARC Council members.
2021 – onwards
The current EUROPARC Youth Representative is Leonardo Cerno from the Italian regional park Parco Naturale Prealpie Giulie. He has also been an active EUROPARC Junior Ranger and Youth+er and is still an active member of the Youth Advisory Board in the Julian Prealps.
2013 – 2021
The very first Youth Representative to sit on the EUROPARC Council was Laura Peters from the Dutch National Park Weerribben-Wieden. Laura had been involved in Junior Rangers since she was 12 years old, attending International Junior Ranger Camps and helping campaign for the first Youth+ programme. See her interview at EUROPARC Live:
HISTORY OF THE YOUTH+ PROGRAM
Youth at EUROPARC Conference 2017, Portugal
The Youth+ programme is evolving across Europe and more activities are being planned.
At EUROPARC Conference 2017 in Portugal, a delegation of Youth from across different countries was present, managed a workshop and a stand at the Knowledge Market!
YOUTH at EUROPARC Conference 2017, Germany
As expected, 7 representatives attended the annual conference and were called on stage to present the Aiguestortes Declaration to the audience. Their message is clear: “Too old, too late!” and was illustrated by this inspiring video. This was followed by a discussion with the audience and the keynote speakers, as well as a special workshop on Youth in the afternoon.
Many thanks to all youth from across Europe who participated in this video!
International EUROPARC Youth+ Camp 2015
A highly committed group of youth declared to be the voice of nature from and to young people. The Aiguestortes Declaration, prepared by the 23 participants from 10 European countries, was made in Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, Catalonia, Spain. On the 1st EUROPARC International Youth+ Camp, new skills on Communication, Advocacy and Leadership were developed and put to good use in a series of activities and workshops.
During the camp participants shared experiences and presented to the group their respective Protected Areas . They were supported by expert rangers from Cairngorms National Park (UK), Weerribben Wieden NP (NL) and Bayerischer Wald NP (DE) and mentors from the EUROPARC Federation. Useful discussions took place concerning accessibility in Protected Areas for people with disabilities, and how youth can play a role on supporting environmental education activities in parks. The Camp was a huge success showing the true potential young people have in being advocates for nature and ambassadors for protected areas across Europe.
Youth are not just our future leaders; they can provide a great support for nature conservation in protected areas today. We only have to give them a chance
said Ignace Schops, EUROPARC President. EUROPARC is working to enhance the confidence, competence and commitment of youth to enable them to be ambassadors for their protected areas, and support Rangers in the management of the Junior Ranger programme. A new Youth + programme for protected areas is in development.
The Aigüestortes Declaration will be officially presented along with an interpretive video made by the young people at EUROPARC’s Conference on the 26th October, in Regensburg. There , Europe’s youth will be seeking a commitment from the protected area managers of Europe.
DOWNLOAD The Aigüestortes Declaration and the participants list below.
EUROPARC expresses its profound gratitude to the rangers that came from abroad, to Ms. Merce Aniz Montes,(Park Director of Aiguestortes NP) and to all her committed team; and to the local communities of the Vall de Boi . Hosted by the Aiguestortes NP in the framework of their 60 years celebrations, the camp was also supported by the “Obra Social la Caixa” and the Generalitat of Catalunya.
1st Youth Conference – Hungary 2013
Looking to the Future: it’s in our hands
The Young People at the conference asked for three main things:
1: Greater youth representation. This includes representation on National Park boards and Youth Parliaments; more Junior Ranger opportunities; and the opportunity for an annual youth conference.
2: A network of Parks, (the) Public and Investors. It was felt that there needed to be greater communication between different parks, and between parks and those outside – ie the public and investors. This would have benefits for Parks, the public and investors.
3: Green Education. Delegates have asked that Parks and Protected Areas talk to their Governments to introduce green education into schools. The young people could then act as the representatives and assistants in implementing this.
They finished by saying: “If you do your bit, we’ll do ours!”