120 youth signed action plan for the future at summit in Iceland
6 dec 2023
Environment, education, and youth participation. Those were some of the most intensely debated topics when 120 young persons from the Nordic region gathered for the second Nordic youth summit. “It's crucial to empower young people with a voice and the opportunity to influence the issues that will shape our world”, said Ágústa Arnthorsdóttir, from the youth council in Stykkishólmur.
The second Nordic Youth Summit, arranged by Samfés, took place in Harpa, Reykjavik. During two days 120 youth came together to discuss and share their perspectives on the issues that matter most to them, and as a result providing a roadmap for policymakers. The collective recommendations emphasise the necessity of active youth participation in shaping a sustainable and inclusive future.
Iceland’s Minister of Education and Children’s Affairs, Ásmundur Einar Daðason, opened the summit reflecting on the Nordic countries’ role globally.
– The Nordic region must lead the way in promoting the rights of children and young people, said Daðason. This is important for the whole world. You are representing not only your countries, but the whole world.
Those words struck a chord in many of the attendees.
– I remember his words about how we as the Nordic countries are an example to the rest of the world because we’re so evolved and ready to take action, said Karma Ólafsdottir from the youth council in Suðurnesjabær. When I thought about it, I realised that what we have to say here in this meeting is going to impact future generations in the world.
Environment and climate high on the agenda
Climate change, education reform, inclusivity, mental health and representation in decision-making were focal points in the round-table discussions.
– The environment isn’t a distant concern; it’s our future. We need action now, not empty promises, said Karma Ólafsdottir.
This sentiment echoed the collective urgency felt by many.
– I believe it’s crucial to empower young people with a voice and the opportunity to influence the issues that will shape our world. The environment is something that deeply concerns us. There’s no planet B, and we must act now to protect and preserve our Earth, said Ágústa Arnthorsdóttir from Stykkishólmur.
Want to see action
This concern for the environment mirrors the youth’s quest for a sustainable future. During the meeting the discussions were intense and matters such as human rights, mental health, and education were debated. The issues ranged over a broad spectrum, encompassing both local questions, like free transportation so that youth in the countryside can take part in activities, and global issues such as peace in the world.
– We don’t just want to talk; we also want to see action. We want to be taken seriously and be part of the decision-making process. Being included in society’s crucial discussions matters to us, said Hera Gudrun Ragnarsdóttir from Stykkishólmur.
Grading decision makers
Nordic Welfare Centre participated with a workshop on the right to participation in decision making, based on our project Nordic Cooperation on Children and Young People’s Opportunities for Participation and Development During the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Senior adviser Merethe Løberg together with our youth expert Dánjal Hátún Augustinussen, Faroe Islands, presented our recommendations for decision maker in the Nordic region and engaged the summit in a poll to let everyone give their view on how well decision-makers live up to these recommendations. And the grades were not A’s.
Addressing big issues
The Nordic Youth Summit 2023 ended with a vote on the action plan. Throughout the discussions and workshops the themes were carved out and ranked and the final result confirmed with acclamation. The four main pillars of the action plan were Global and societal challenges, Youth Identity and Culture, Youth clubs and youth houses and Rights, Participation and Well-being.
Climate change was a major concern, highlighted by most youth. They urged for strong rules to protect the environment, better transportation, and safe spaces for wildlife. Education also took the spotlight, with demands for equal access and more investment.
The importance of inclusive education was stressed again, this time focusing on youth clubs. Participants pushed for longer hours and diverse activities to foster cultural understanding and personal growth.
The summit also suggested creating youth parliaments, aiming for fair jobs and places that help develop skills and build connections.
Giving the minister goose-bumps
At the end of the summit the action plan was handed over to Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Iceland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, and Nordic cooperation.
– I get goosebumps when I see that four out of five items are about climate change. This is one of the most pressing issues of our time, said Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, pointing out that he himself is a lifelong environmental activist.
– This is about life. How you want to create a society to live in, he concluded.