From 25 to 27 September 2017, the Young European Federalists (JEF) organised the LADDER‘s Special Initiative “Youth for Sustainable Europe” in Brussels, to discuss the links between Sustainable Development Goals and youth.

The initiative consisted of a series of panels and workshops. In the first panel discussion Dejan Bojanic (European Youth Forum), Noora Löfström (Finnish Youth Co-Operation Allianssi), Ingo Ritz (SDG Watch Europe) and Jacob Kornbeck (European Commission) debated the role of youth and sustainable development related to the Agenda 2030, by providing examples from their local and institutional realities. The panellists ultimately agreed that the SDGs can only be tackled in a holistic approach and that the whole spectrum of political stakeholders – from Active Citizens to the European Commission – must be involved in this task. On the second panel, the discussion was centred on the EU consensus of Development and the role of youth in EU external policies. The panellist, Martin Heather from the EU Commission (DG DevCo) pled for more funds for development, emphasising that national concrete plans are needed to implement the SDGs. 

In addition, the first day of activities was a particular day for SDGs, celebrating their 2nd anniversary! More than 880 actionsinvolving over 500 organisations in 109 countries took place on this day, in order to support the implementation of SDGs. ALDA took part in two actions through the LADDER project. Together with SDG Watch Europe, a large social media campaign was run in the last three weeks raising awareness on each SDG, and ending with the stunt of the “Pink Elephant” in Brussels, linked to the slogan “Can you see the elephant in the room?”, referring to the weak implementation SDGs as the problem to be solved. The action’s aim was to ask the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to do more on the implementation of SDGs at the European level. The second campaign was run in cooperation with Concord Europe, consisting of a video on people’s wishes related to SDGs, and the responsibilities covered until now by the European Union on the issue, but also a website with recommendations sent to Frans Timmermans, responsible for the implementation of SDGs. The video was presented to the audience during the first day of activities within the Special Initiative.

The 3-day event saw the use of workshops to engage the audience, the first of which was held by Democracy 21. During this workshop, all participants got involved in group exercises and learned about the company’s e-participatory tools and practices. At the second workshop ALDA’s project manager Aldo Xhani, together with Secretary General of “ARS for Progress” Alessio Lupi, presented the scope and the results achieved by project Youthmetre, which we have already discussed in this article. In parallel with Youthmetre workshop, a similar project (project DEEP) was presented by ECAS. Project DEEP aims at creating a digital platform on which active young citizens can present and discuss their proposals with policymakers and other stakeholders.

The second round of parallel workshops engages with the topic of youth participation in raising awareness to the implementation of SDGs at a local level. The workshop held by ESN(Erasmus Student Network) focused on the role of European mobility as a tool to increase the number of young people engaged with political and environmental topics, while the one held by EFIL (European Federation for Intercultural Learning) concerned the importance of volunteering and how to get young people involved in voluntary work. 

The conclusive debate of the event was held in the beautiful University Foundation venue. The panellists Valentin Dupouey (JEF), David Garrahy (European Youth Forum), Jovana Majstorovic (Young European Socialists) and Danica Vihinen (European Liberal Youth) discussed the effective possibility to reach the goals of sustainable development by their deadline, highlighting the importance and the difficulty of making the private sector aware of the problems of sustainability.

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