Strategy Meeting in Stockholm during the autumn of 2017 where core partners decided to launch the movement.
Discussion with Nordic youth councils in Laugarvatn.
Summit in August 2018 in Mariehamn.
Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference session in 2018.
In 2015, the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The excitement was high. One year passed. And yet another. Whilst the ecological crisis just got worse, people's frustration of inaction became evident.
On a little island in the middle of the Baltic Sea - Åland - a group of young people started asking: Can we do something about it? Around the same time, they had been part in shaping a local people's movement for sustainability - Bärkraft - and got courage to take matters in their own hands. The grandiose idea was to gather a lot of initiatives, campaigns and organisations in the regional vicinity that work with sustainability to a common platform. Several partners quickly joined the network. Our strategy meeting in November 2017 in Stockholm was decisive: ReGeneration 2030 - as the movement came to be called - would encompass 14 countries and autonomous regions in the Nordic and Baltic Sea regions. In a meeting with Nordic youth council representatives held in Laugarvatn, Iceland, we got confirmation on our idea that sustainable consumption and production would be a suitable focus.
Funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Åland Provincial Government, the Swedish Institute and the Council of the Baltic Sea States provided the opportunity for the appointment of a coordinator in 2017–2020. The Nordic Institute on Åland (NIPÅ) took the responsibility to act as a project organisation. It was decided that the movement's main meeting points - the “Summits” - would take place on the Åland islands in August each year. This was a natural decision as Åland poses a perfect example on how an inside-out bottom-up people's movement for sustainability actually can have a great influence.
The first Summit in August 2018 was a success with over 110 participants from 13 countries and regions. During the Summit, a manifesto for the movement was adopted, stating the vision of the movement along with demands and commitments. After the Summit, the movement was invited to a number of different high-level meetings to represent the voice of young people. The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, COP24 and the High Level Community Planning Forum in St. Petersburg were some examples. The movement was featured in IKEA's international sustainability report.
The second Summit had a special focus on climate smart consumption. To the Summit was added the "HållbArt festival" which also aimed at the general public. In total, 200 people were engaged. As a result of the second Summit, several participants were invited to meetings, conferences and festivals regarding sustainable consumption and climate-smart lifestyles. For instance, a representative of the movement met the Nordic prime ministers with a demand letter together with other Nordic youth representatives. The movement was also represented at COP25.
In 2020, following the pandemic, the Summit was held digitally with up to 170 active participants and around 250 participants including the local hubs. As the formal project ended after the digital Summit, with NIPÅ withdrawing from its project management role, the need for an independent organisation became clear. A group of involved participants during the first three years laid the ground for the ReGeneration 2030 Foundation the 19th of September 2020. The Baltic Sea Project, administered by Ålandsbanken, granted us the money needed to start the ReGeneration 2030 Foundation, which we are grateful for.
First off, we have to understand the world we are living in. Climate change is escalating. Waste mountains are rising. There is more plastic in the seas than there ever was. More species are disappearing. The economic inequality is increasing. Time for action is now if we want to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This negative spiral has to be turned now. We cannot use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for inaction. The crisis rather serves us a possibility to reinvent a more resilient and sustainable society.
Secondly, talking about sustainability is not enough. The older generation has known about the challenges for more than 50 years now. So we have to understand the mechanisms: Politicians seek voters. Businesses follow demand. Therefore, we as citizens can change how we vote and what products we demand; we can influence our families, colleagues and peers. The key to a sustainable future is a well-coordinated bottom-up mass movement of people with a clear vision.
Who else is to lead this people’s movement if not we, the young people? We are actually already taking a leading role in many ways. Yet, we know that this is not enough. We have to cooperate more across nations and organisations and advocate change continuously. We should stop working in silos and get together.
Strengthened by a common cause, we will cultivate more future politicians, business leaders and heads of NGOs. We should not wait for the leaders to come forth, we should become them. By educating youth, fostering a new leadership, uniting like-minded citizens and building norms around sustainable lifestyles, we aim to form a strong movement that shows both the necessity and the benefits of sustainability.
Thirdly, the entry point for the transition is to reshape the way in which the economy is organised. We know that if we are to achieve a fully sustainable society, there will be no economic activities that systematically exploit natural or human resources. However, as long as there are strong economic interests in upholding the status quo, we cannot expect others to drive the transition. We have to change demand so that people require only sustainable products. In result, businesses are pushed into redeveloping new business models, and politicians into financing public welfare services through sustainable practices only. Hence, sustainable consumption and production is key in solving the entire 2030 Agenda.
Our vision is to make sustainable consumption and production the new norm in the Nordic and Baltic Sea regions.
Our mission is to mobilise a strong youth movement in the Nordic and Baltic Sea regions in order to achieve the vision.
"How can we create change so that the people responsible for the crisis do not feel threatened by the solutions?
The answer is: you don't. You make sure you have enough people on your side to change the balance of power."
Nordic Youth Representatives meeting with the Nordic Prime Ministers in Stockholm in October 2019.
WHAT WE DO.
HOW WE DO IT.
In order to fulfil our mission to become a strong youth movement, we have identified five focus areas. The movement:
fosters and highlights leadership amongst youth by knowledge-sharing, education, capacity building and empowerment;
strengthens and unites actors that share the vision across borders, generations and sectors of society;
demands change through continuous intergenerational dialogue with relevant power holders;
builds excitement and engagement around sustainable lifestyles aimed toward youth; and
The key to success is to translate these five focus areas into powerful activities.
One of the core activities is to provide different platforms for youth and youth-oriented organisations to network, build relationships, common initiatives, campaigns and projects. Our annual Summit on the Åland islands is the pinnacle of all the activities within the umbrella of the movement. This is also a meeting place for an intergenerational dialogue between youth and senior change-makers. In similar lines, we are organising or co-organising physical and digital events throughout the year.
We also run own projects with relevant stakeholders, such as capacity building educational and leadership programmes, communication campaigns and
providing youth with the opportunity to participate in events. These events can be high-level forums, roundtable discussions, live-streams, democracy festivals and other forums.
Another important activity is to support the national mobilisation for the vision. Our ambition is to create a network of national representatives in the region. They work alongside a range of national partner organisations and passionate activists. In addition, we aspire to develop the idea of local hubs that we pilot tested during the digital Summit in 2020. It should be easy to be a part of the movement on all levels.
It is the board's responsibility to implement the strategy according to both 3-year plans and annual plans. The board also supervises the Secretary General, designates auditors, confirms the Annual Report and decides changes of the bylaws. The board consists of 4-8 members, representing different cultures, regions and countries. At least 75% of the board members should be between 18-30 years old. Younger people can be elected as observants with initiative power, but will not be able to formally take part in the decision making process. Up to 3 observers can be elected. The board and the chairperson are elected for annual mandate periods during the annual Summit.
If the board deals with strategic decisions, the secretariat works operatively. The Secretary General leads the secretariat and is in charge of the operations, similar to a CEO. The Secretary General has the power to install national representatives and different types of working groups.