We, the participants of Waves of Democracy 2015 in Sønderborg present the following agenda. As 100 young people from Europe and its neighbours we gathered to exchange ideas about the current state of Europe, and also to discuss a relevant vision for the future.
Today, our continent is facing fundamental challenges, which have been accumulating recently. This is why immediate action is needed in order to envision and realize a future of shared prosperity for all. Despite, huge economic growth and technological innovation in the past century, development wasn’t achieved in a sustainable way. In addition, Europe has been the favourite destination for migrants since the begining of time. However, refugees and migrants are being excluded from society like never before. Therefore, memory and nationalism are fostering, leading to conflicts and resentment.
With these convictions in mind, we discussed three main topics : Environment & Sustainability , Migration & Mobility, and History & Memory.
We are very aware of the climate changes currently facing our planet, with global warming, rising sea level and pollution among the consequences. These challenges need to be addressed immedialty in order to limit their effect, and therefore, we believe that a transition to an environmentally friendly economy and a sustainable society is crucial. This transition can be pushed by making eco-friendly products more cost-competitive; reducing waste and pollution; increasing awareness; and also by law-making and regulation.
In the past 70 years, the relations between most European nations have greatly improved. Nevertheless, history and memory are still relevant to us, both regarding a common European history and relating to the re-emergence of national, ethnic and religious identifications. In Europe, we defend a common project based on dialogue, tolerance and understanding, and where history and memory aren’t maneuvered by nationa’ or government interests. We suggest that Europe can develop a one week-long annual project designed for teachers and students to learn and discuss about both past and current European conflicts. Moreover, we want to create a platform for critical understanding of history aimed at increasing the role of individual stories in world history.
The fear of migrants is due to the lack of information regarding their situation. Subsequently, raising local awareness by creating an objective narrative with an emphasis on the human aspect, is essential. In a perfect world, society is aware, respectful, tolerant and accepting of the “otherness”. Also, constructive dialogue is the foundation of an open-minded approach. Therefore, we believe actions taken on a local level are more effective and immediate than global ones. Our goal is to simplify the situation without losing the complexity of migration. We must provide human support beyond papers, thus the concept of networking. Migrants who are already in the territory (second or third generation migrants) could establish connections with the refugees of the same country of origin; in addition to the classical approach working with NGOs, civil society, youth (debates, high school projects, music, movies …)
With all of these three topics in mind Sønderborg is a most adequate city, being a role model in recycling and becoming CO2 neutral before 2029, dealing with minorities and refugees, and a leading example in cross-border cooperation activities.
So after five days in Sønderborg, we urge you to follow our proposals not only for your own sake, but for the sake of humanity.
Change is needed, and it is needed now!