On 13-14 June 2017, YEL’s President Tillmann Heidelk represented the organisation in the 8th Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. He was one of the panelists in the session “Connecting the voice of youth for a sustainable future of the Baltic Sea region”.
According to the organisers, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, one of the key aspects for connecting the region is to address questions of education for Sustainable Development and active youth participation.
During the opening session, German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel underscored power of the Baltic Region for the European peace project. Former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari carried on by stating that the well-being and success of the Baltic Region is tied to the well-being and success of EU, despite the uniqueness of the Baltic Sea Region.
The panel “Connecting the voice of youth for a sustainable future of the Baltic Sea region” was co-organised by the Council of Baltic Sea States and the Baltic University Programme. It focused on finding the means on how to include the youth in achieving a sustainable Baltic Sea Region. For instance, a question arose whether a youth council for EUSBSR should be created. According to President Heidelk: “The panel had a rather uniform opinion, which was not necessarily shared with the (senior) members of the session.” He carried on by suggesting that a youth council is a good idea if it is properly integrated in the overall summit and not a secluded side event, which would essentially marginalise youth.
Panelists took into account the importance of youth organisations that are increasing awareness on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). For instance, YEL is working on SDG 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies and access to accountable and inclusive institutions. However, young people still lack support to participate in decision-making procedures, especially at local level.