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“We’re frustrated at a lack of urgency”: Annie's experience at the European Youth Event

After attending Strasbourg’s European Youth Event as a delegate, Annie reflects on her experience meeting climate policy makers.

Raleigh young person Annie recently attended the European Youth Event (EYE) in Strasbourg, France, where she joined as a delegate. In her blog she reflects on the experience of meeting Members of European Parliament, a European Commissioner and other young activists while having discussions about some of the most pressing climate issues.  

Between the 8-9th October this year, I found myself spending my 23rd birthday at the European Youth Event (EYE) in Strasbourg, France. The city is home to one of the two seats of the European Parliament and was the host of the event this year, which is kind of cool! The event itself is majorly concerned with amplifying the voices of youth in Europe, identifying the issues we care about the most, representing those who were not able to be there and putting forward our priorities to Members of European Parliament (MEPs) alongside other influential figures.

I was there as a delegate with Generation Climate Europe, a network of youth-led organisations from all over Europe who have an interest in climate action to some degree, which meant that I helped manage their tent at the event, helped facilitate a workshop and in general represent the group. In my free time, I attended a number of different workshops, panels and discussions on climate change, youth employment and active citizenship run by groups such as #StandForSomething and FEMYSO. The youth-led discussions that took place were really refreshing, I really did feel an overwhelming sense of community and I felt seen.

However, this wasn’t maintained throughout the whole event. One panel discussion in particular titled “The Other Crisis: Has the climate and nature crisis been drowned out?” with a European Commissioner, an MEP and a number of young climate activists demonstrated to me something a little different: the lack of flexibility for organisations and governments to act radically in the face of the climate crisis and the lack of will to act as urgently as we need to. You can watch the discussion for yourself. But to summarise it seemed continuously that we as young people were all pleading for more urgent, transformative policy and action from the leaders there and that these pleas were falling on minds that have already been made up.

Politicians and other leaders find it hard to balance economic growth with the need to transform the systems we live in, we get that, however the climate crisis won’t wait for us to make incremental changes at the rate we are. Young people, scientists and activists get this. I think most young people interested in climate action are as frustrated as I am at the lack of urgency, dedication and flexibility of our policy in tackling climate change. It seems as if politicians claim they genuinely want to listen to young people but that they only take the bits they like and run with them rather than really listening.

After the European Youth Event I feel overwhelmingly understood by my peers yet an underwhelming commitment from our representatives. It really brings to question, how many youth-centred events like this do there have to be until we see the level of change we need to see?

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