“Imagine how cool this small country would be to be an example of how young people should be integrated in the decision-making process related to them and their future” wrote one of the participants of the “Youth for Climate” consultations we have organised in October and November this year. If anything, the level of ambition shared by young people who answered our many questions should send a strong message to anyone willing to engage them in climate action. And there is a level of operational and technical acumen ready to follow these ambitions.
Young people who engaged in our consultations shared their experiences, needs and visions for climate action in the Republic of North Macedonia. What was particularly interesting, however, is how clear they were about the principles and values that should inform the design of a youth engagement system for environmental purposes and beyond. These included subsidiarity, long-term thinking, inclusiveness, trust, transparency, practical and holistic approach. The last one was verbalised clearly by one of the platform users:
There are no orders but cooperation, simply a plan MUST be created FIRST, including all groups / communities located on the territory of the country. We must first understand all the structural problems that citizens of all levels face, and together with them to find solutions. Climate problems, ie. The current climate crisis is multidimensional and includes various other problems and structural injustices that occur daily between us (social problems, economic, political ...) so to really find a solution to the climate and the quality of life of citizens must work from a holistic perspective.
How do we redesign the system so that it follows these principles and provides space for young people to take part in decision-making and implementation? Participants of the study shared their insights on that as well - directly and through stories of their previous experiences. There are three key recommendations worth taking forward. First of all, the new system requires a well-designed and orchestrated set of new mechanisms, roles and tools organising ministry’s dialogue with the youth and their engagement in decision-making. Second, effective feedback loops need to become part of the everyday cooperation between public administration and young people. Finally, respondents shed spotlight on the need to revise schools curricula so that climate change as a topic is taught all across the subjects and is given gravitas it requires.
This is just a snapshot of a broad pool of insights shared by close to 300 young Macedonians - both actively engaged and still standing on the sidelines of climate action. Young people seem to be leading the charge all over the world when it comes to setting the bar for our environmental efforts. It is clear that they are not interested in praises only but rather in recognition shown through shared responsibilities and ownership of the process. And they are well equipped to share that burden with the public administration and CSOs leading the way.
“Youth for Climate” consultations were part of the process of revising Nationally Determined Contributions for the Republic of North Macedonia. Download the report for details.