Environmental activism is democracy in action, and only through a powerful people's movement can we grab back the power for our futures.
ReGeneration 2030 attended the first ever Nordic Youth Democracy Festival, Ungdommens Folkemøde NORD in Copenhagen from 21-22.4.23. The idea behind the festival is simple: democracy isn’t a system of government that you build once and stays forever, it’s an active practice that needs renewing every generation. The festival gathered youth from around the Nordic region to exchange experiences and ideas on the democratic challenges in the Nordic region today.
For two days, the underside of a highway was transformed into a bright space of dialogue and learning. The festival included workshops, dialogues, panel discussions, and creative expression. Decision makers, activists, and youth organizations gathered together from around the Nordics.
For our movement, it was the perfect place to be: because the fight for a sustainable future is also a fight for democracy. Our destructive fossil-fueled system is not only a production of technology and economics, but a production of culture, society, and power. Many of us try to act more sustainably in our own lives, but the major decisions about our climate and environment remain made by a small handful of CEOs. Whilst the planet warms, this small handful of corporations are raking in the profits - and they have made it clear that this is power they are not going to give up easy. Their power continues to uphold climate imperialism, threaten the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples, and force many to a point of climate migration.
Only a powerful people’s movement can grab that power back - environmental activism is democracy in action! So ReGeneration 2030 headed to Copenhagen with a clear mission: help young people understand that it’s up to us to fight for our futures, and there’s a space for everyone in this struggle.
ReGeneration 2030 was represented by Keira Dignan (Secretary-General), Ugnė Budriūnaitė (Chairperson), Emilia Nygård (Vice-Chairperson), Vanessa Elena Phekani (Project Coordinator), Justina Ramonaitytė (Communications Coordinator), Alva Danielsson (Movement Coordinator), Zabihullah Roshan (Financial Coordinator), Matilda Agdler (ReGeneration Week coordinator), Josefine Dahl and Ellen Fokuhl.
On Friday, we held a half hour discussion on the Sustainability and Future themed stage to host the discussion “The Power to Fight for A Better Future”. During this session, Alva, Emilia, and Ugnė visualized the power of youth climate action and the diversity of the sustainability movement through interactive stories. They mobilized the audience to connect the vital role of collective action in catalyzing systemic change. Utilizing human stories as powerful political tools is essential in visualizing the crisis induced suffering, determination, and ongoing action.
We showcased the power of collective action through real examples of youth taking action and winning in struggles from the region. The first story summarized the youth occupation of the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in protest against a wind turbine park. The illegal wind turbines in Fosen were threatening reindeer herding which is an essential part of the Sami cultural heritage.
“The occupation was ongoing for 9 days, and they shut down a total of 10 ministries. The government had no choice but to acknowledge the issue. This is a powerful example of activism, where people use civil disobedience to address an issue that world leaders and people of power so obviously are ignoring.” -Alva Danielsson
The second story shared the momentum from the Estonian Fridays for Future and their three-year-long lawsuit against the construction of a new oil shale plant.
“As of now, the case is still pending, but with the petition being first of its kind in Estonia, it is an important step in the fight against climate change. It started as a youth-led fight, but resulted in a much bigger movement, showing that action for climate change cannot and will not be ignored!” -Emilia Nygård
Finally, Ugnė shared the story of summarized the intergenerational discussions held by ReGeneration 2030, describing the moment that youth demanded the EU Commissioner for the Environment meet his responsibility to tackle environmental collapse, when we demanded that he either step up, or step aside.
”The example that involved the EU commissioner happened two years ago when he heard the famous phrase from our Declaration “Step up or step aside”. Then, he promised to step up for systematic change and bring our voice to Brussels.”- Ugnė Budriūnaitė
Collectives have been successful in standing up against the fossil fuel regime before. Consider the workers that revolted against the coal regime in the early 19th century, and the countless number of climate activists successfully pushing for renewable energy today. We need a new and clean energy regime that allows democracy to flourish and centralizes human and ecological well-being. However, we need to harness this understanding first as individuals. It is imperative that the youth have the space and resources to strengthen their right to democracy.
“Tides are rising and so are the movements. But for us to rise as high and as quickly as the sea level does, we need to act together and help each other. That’s why, if for at least a tiny moment you felt inspired hearing about what these young people are doing, you should take that inspiration and bring it to the Åland Islands with you to share with everyone.”
We would like to thank everyone that stopped by our booth, engaged in important conversation with us, and listened to our session! We would especially like to thank the Greenland Youth, the RedCross, and Aurora.
Our participation Ungdommens Folkemøde NORD was funded by Sustainable Living, a programme aiming to make it easier to live climate-friendly in the Nordic Region. Sustainable Living is coordinated by NordRegio and funded by Nordisk Samarbejde.
ReGeneration 2030 is a democratic and youth- led movement, mobilizing youth from the Nordic and Baltic Sea region. Want to join us? Fill out a volunteer application form here.