We are not able to enrol in our journey ”Towards an open, fair and sustainable Europe in the World” without a gentle push from the younger generations! The Civic Resource Center was engaged between February-June 2019 in conducting a series of discussions with young people aged 15-23, on the thematic of Sustainable Development. The information campaign unrolled in 4 counties of Romania – 9 cities, enjoying an overwhelming attendance of 85 young people average per seminar session.
Among the tools used for attracting all these curious and lively individuals on the Sustainable Development’ side, were interactive instruments such as videos or podcasts, but also engaging brochures meant to guide young people in better understanding what is the 2030 Agenda all about. The project idea started from knowing that young people living in smaller cities don’t get enough information about SDGs and how to get involved in concrete related activities.
`They are afraid to ask any question starting with why, afraid to scratch beyond the surface`, said Cosmin Bârzan, President of the Civic Resource Center and initiator of the GenerAction project. One of the added values of these interacting sessions was to encourage critical thinking among participants, so discussions about evolution of the earth during the next years, distribution of resources, or questioning technological advancement and climate change were a frequent ice-breaker. Some of the seminars took place right before the European elections in May, therefore providing an opportunity for debating on active citizenship and the value of going out to vote.
GenerAction informing campaign in numbers:
The main instrument through which young people were addressed was a brochure especially assembled during the EU Presidency Project, which provided a base for young people to start questioning themselves on how they can support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Content wise, it provided information such as empirical data concerning the evolution of each SDG in the EU, resources for in-depth readings about cooperation for development or mobile application suggestions that were tailored for young people to learn the basics of the 2030 Agenda. Nevertheless, the brochure was not a strictly informative and fact based material, but rather delivered a personal story around it, so it could easily appeal to the reader. The organisation’s vision was to foremost underline how volunteering life impacts one’s further development as an individual, and it leaves the reader in wonder with the opening lines: `This publication is meant to bring the world closer to you while helping you to better understand it and take action now, while is still not too late. Have a wonderful life filled with purpose, both for you and the ones surrounding you. `
Questionnaire applied to 234 respondents aged 13-36 years old
Another instrument which facilitated an insight to what 234 respondents coming from urban and rural areas, aged between 13-36 think about sustainable development, was a questionnaire applied by the Civic Resource Center. The intention was to measure the percentage of individuals that ever came across the term of Sustainable Development Goals or are aware that Romania has a National Sustainable Development Strategy for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and what this strategy is referring to.
In addition to this, a mapping of key priorities resulted after the respondents were asked to reflect upon the importance of the 17 SDGs against: the government, themselves and their generation, their country, theirs and their family’s future. The results are showing that respondents believe the SDGs are foremost important for their country and themselves/their generation, even though not in equal measure – they place higher the importance of the SDGs for their country. It is important to mention that out of all the categories, the relevance and importance of the SDGs for the government was measured to be the lowest, therefore the respondents are not fully aware of the role that decision-makers have in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda or any policy that can support development for that matter.
When looking at what matters the most to themselves and their generation, the respondents picked SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 13 (Climate Action). Distinguishing overall, across all the categories and SDGs, the most relevant ones were SDG 3 (Good health and well-being) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality).
Is the age of exploring knowledge, exploring opportunities! From the interaction during the seminars they actually seemed really eager to learn more about how the world really is and how they can get involved in order to protect it. (…) We bring the discussion around volunteering and also social inclusion – because in smaller cities this is an everyday topic. Is also about environmental activities and healthy lifestyle.
If you want to find more about the Civic Resource Center’s vision and the GenerAction project, listen to our EU Presidency Talks Podcast, wherein Cosmin Bârzan is passionately talking about the core of the 2030 Agenda and young people’s role in achieving it.