“Rising Tides, Rising Movements” was the theme of the ReGeneration Week 2023. But how can movements rise just as high and just as quickly as the sea level does? Is international action enough? Or do we need stronger local and regional movements? This year, the youth plenary was trying to answer these questions.
Youth plenary is one of the cornerstones of the ReGeneration Week. It is a powerful platform, which brings together youth from different corners of the Nordic and Baltic Sea region to discuss and find a common ground for important questions in shaping the ReGeneration 2030 movement.
In the past, the youth plenary created and democratically adopted the most important positional documents of ReGeneration 2030, including the Manifesto (2018), the Declaration (2021) and the Position Paper (2022).
This year, the youth plenary focused on regional action, outlining the importance of strengthening youth climate activism locally and acknowledging local environmental issues. Eight different local areas were outlined, bringing participants from each of the areas together. Each of these groups discussed the problems faced by local climate movements in their respective regions and came up with action points on how to contribute to solving those issues.
The summaries of the local situation and possible actions in each of the regions are as follows:
The biggest problem that was highlighted was greenwashing, which is now affecting policy-making and education-shaping. Another issue that was brought up is the growing misinterpretation of climate action (e.g., donating is positioned as preferable to action culture) as well as misshaping the view and consequences of climate change.
Action point: Connect organisations working on climate action and social justice.
The main issues outlined included the increasing polarisation of youth groups as well as lack of connectivity - Finland is a scarcely populated country, which makes connecting on a bigger scale a challenge. Another emerging problem highlighted by the group is the country's high waste generation.
Action point: Support innovation and find solutions to enormous waste generation.
The main issue highlighted is weak protest culture and lack of communication between different movements. Protests are currently happening in response to recent issues rather than being proactively organised all year round.
Action point: Support and find ways to unify movements and organisations.
Slow overall progress in the country - which can in large part be explained by the country’s historical baggage and current political circumstances - is one of the main issues. On a more positive note, bringing examples showing why sustainability is not a sacrifice seems to be working.
Action point: Support the spread of information and education on climate change and activism.
The climate movement is already developed, with a large number of climate groups and organisations. There is a further opportunity to build connections with movements from other countries and international groups (such as ReGeneration 2030) and to create permanent links between them.
Action point: Share materials, knowledge and skills with international groups and movements from other regions.
Norway and Iceland
Explanation: Due to low participation from these groups and continuous efforts to involve local participants in the group discussion, a joint group with participants from Norway and Iceland was assembled during the plenary session.
Norway has a well-developed youth environmental movement, with a long history of mass protests and direct action, but there is a need for international collaboration. The climate movement in Iceland is made up of a very small number of organisations, and here, collaboration with other social movements could be an effective strategy.
What are our collective obstacles?
During a group discussion with all of the participants, the youth also discussed obstacles and challenges that are relevant to climate groups across our region.
Right-wing movements, which are currently growing in power, were named as a challenge, especially because they spread misinformation on climate issues. Profit-seeking entities, heavily reliant on the fossil fuels industry and well-connected to policymakers, are another key challenge to effective climate action due to their efforts to continue business as usual and promote greenwashing to avoid making actual changes.
We, the climate activists ourselves, were identified as another key issue. First, due to our frequent tendencies towards polarisation, rather than unity. Second, due to our difficulties taking care of ourselves, burning ourselves out and not knowing how to organise and work long-term. We’re very passionate and dedicated to fighting the system and advocating for change, but without learning how to work together and sustainably, we won’t be able to keep fighting for a long time.
Lastly, a big challenge is our narrow Global North point of view. We lack a connection to the Global South and MAPA (most affected people and areas), international action is needed to address this global challenge, as well as a stronger focus on marginalised groups. We also need to address the fact that the issues faced today by communities in the Global South are caused by colonialism as well as contemporary neo-colonial structures, which were created and are being sustained by actors based in the Global North.
How can we build solidarity?
International meetings and connectivity between the regions is the key to building solidarity in the climate movement. This should not be exclusive to the Nordic and Baltic Sea region or just the Global North. We need to build connections with people in MAPA, strategize together, support and learn from each other to fight more efficiently.
The fight continues and now it has to take a higher speed. Only by organising both regionally and internationally, we can fight the climate collapse and the malfunctioning capitalist system together.
And of course, this is hard and overwhelming. But together we can build solidarity and be the support system we need for each other.
The people united will never be defeated.
Global North and Global South - are terms used to describe geographical areas based on socio-economic statuses. Generally speaking, the Global North covers North America, Europe, parts of Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The terms are not strictly defined by the northern and southern hemispheres, but are still missing some perspectives when talking about climate justice, and often, MAPA is a better term to use. Read more.
MAPA - Most Affected People and Areas are the communities that suffer the most from the effects of climate change. MAPA includes all territories in the Global South (Africa, Latin America, Pacific Islands, etc.) as well as marginalised communities (BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA + people, etc.) that might live anywhere in the world. Read more.
The summary written by: Alva Danielsson, Ugnė Budriūnaitė
Editors: Natalia Mrówczyńska, Matilda Agdler
Photo credit: ReGeneration 2030