With the new year, a new chapter for the youth movement ReGeneration 2030 has started. We asked the chairpersons about the outcomes of 2020 and their thoughts about the coming times ahead.
Chairperson Bára Örk Melsted (Iceland)
This year has been a truly unusual year for most people. Despite the countless challenges that the world has faced, we look back at the many achievements we have made in the year. ReGeneration 2030 held our third summit online in August with around 200 participants. Even though it was a shame not being able to meet in person on the Åland Islands, I think we learned a lot from the online Summit which went better than anyone could have expected. That is thanks to the wonderful team of organisers and volunteers, who are the strength and essence of ReGeneration 2030.
A new chapter started for ReGeneration 2030 when we were officially founded as a Foundation in October. We enter the new year with ambitious goals, looking forward to developing as a movement. Our leadership program “Circulents - the new consumer” will start in the first quarter of the year. The ReGeneration Week will take place on the Åland Islands 28.8-1.9, where the annual Summit will extend into a larger event as a part of Åland’s 100 year anniversary of autonomy. We are also looking forward to extending the movement, with recruitment of staff, establishing more working groups and national mobilisation.
Growing up in a small village in the Westfjords of Iceland, with a population of fewer than 500 people has influenced me in many ways. It is a part of my identity and has greatly shaped my personality and mindset. I have often talked about the ‘magic’ of small communities, where networks are tight, and power distance is short, support is abundant, and possibilities are many. If you have an idea that you are passionate about and if you are willing to put in even just a little bit of effort, you can make it a reality. You can make a change. You can observe so clearly the effect of direct democracy and the importance and possibilities of active citizenship.
Growing up in close connection to nature, there was never a doubt in my mind, environmental protection is of great importance and has been a passion of mine from a young age.
I got involved with the environmental council in my elementary school around the age of 10 until graduation. I also had the great privilege of being listened to. Opinions and ideas of students from ages 6-16 were taken seriously and put into action in cooperation with the students themselves.
When I first heard about ReGeneration 2030, I felt right away that this was something of interest to me. So I filled the application right away even if it was in the middle of a Spanish class when I was in high school. After the Summit in 2019, I was filled with even more passion and enthusiasm. I did not have a doubt when I agreed to be part of preparing the shift to a Foundation shortly after the digital Summit in August 2020. I had no idea then that mere two months later I would be the chairperson of ReGeneration. I am grateful for the trust I have been shown in this role, despite my young age and limited experience. Therefore, I am also immensely grateful for the wonderful team of people involved, their knowledge, experience, skills and most importantly, passion and engagement.
After all ReGeneration 2030 is a youth movement; a recurring point of ours is that it is okay to lack knowledge and experience as long as you have passion and willpower. You can always learn, and you are never too small to make a change. But we can not do so on our own. That is why we want to unite young people around our mission so that we can learn from one another, get inspired and lift each other up in making a change. It is also important to note that even if we are a foundation for youth, we also need other generations to make the change with us. In our work, we place emphasis on intergenerational dialogue and that everyone has to do their part in the change to a sustainable future. Politicians, industries, people of society, one is not enough. We need everyone aboard to achieve our mission.
It is clear to us that we can not continue consumption and production in the same way as before. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we can make a behaviour change - rapidly - in the case of a common threat. Now it is time to take the threat of climate change seriously too. We need to actively involve sustainability in the economic and societal recovery from COVID-19.
It is not an option to return to business as usual as we need to grasp this opportunity for a sustainable recovery.
I wish everyone an optimistic start of a new year, and encourage you to raise your voices and keep fighting. ReGeneration 2030 will be there to support, inspire, and amplify your voices. In doing so, our generation will not be the last one.
Vice chairperson Olga Amelkina (Russia)
Time flies! I remember myself being a participant on the first Summit of the ReGeneration 2030 movement on the Åland islands in 2018. It was so exciting to meet like-minded people, discuss environmental, economic, and social problems, and create a Manifesto of ReGeneration 2030 word by word. I remember how it was difficult to find suitable words when my friend Mariia and I did a translation of this Manifesto into the Russian language. That time I could really see the gap between the level of development of sustainability sciences and public awareness across the regions. I was so impressed how educated, aware, and inspired the youth were at the Summit; I felt that these people are the light at the end of a tunnel, and I decided to keep in touch.
Two years later, in 2020, I got back to the movement in a new status, as a vice-chair of the board. Besides that, 2020 helped me to slow down, reconnect with my family, finalize a master’s thesis in Sustainable development and graduate from Uppsala University.
2020 was a special year not only for me but for everyone on this planet.
This year showed us how tiny our planet is and that there is not an alternative one; how social and how dependent on nature we people are.
2020 taught us to slow down, care for others, spend more time with family and relatives rather than in shopping malls. It opened mental practices and sports for many people. Many moved to the countryside to reconnect with nature. Many realized the power of being in nature and how it helps to destress. Many people got time to think and rethink their pathways, the job they do and the value it brings to society. We realised the value of doctors and nurses and questioned if they are paid fairly for jobs they do. Many got to know the enormous amount of household work, which is necessary to do being at home and with children. Many clearly understood that GDP growth is just numbers which don’t necessarily bring happiness or value to society. Moreover, 2020 taught us to travel less, work remotely and attend one-day conferences and seminars from home.
I wish we keep all the good things 2020 taught us, and we will have time to think, question and rethink who we are, what we do, where we go, and in which direction we need (and want) to develop.
People from the Nordic and Baltic Sea regions are already on one boat. I believe that communication across the regions is the key and necessary to exchange knowledge and experience, good practices and speak of failures, to learn different interests of each stakeholder to communicate the common goal. So, if we find a common ground in our part of the world, it will facilitate further communication for the prosperous future of the planet, our only home.
I am very excited about the activities that we in ReGeneration 2030 plan for 2021. The main projects are the Leadership program and the annual Summit developed into the ReGeneration Week - devoted to the topic of #ReThinkingTheSystem. We invite everyone as a volunteer, participant, partner organization, or expert aboard!
Today is 2021, the beginning of the decade to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs.
I hope the tendency to be more sustainable and caring for people, nature, and the planet will guide us through the challenging times ahead, and become a new social norm in 2021.
Happy New Year!