European WWF Youth Summit 2017

European WWF Youth Summit 2017

September 6-10, 2017 – Almtal, Upper Austria

Generation Earth goes international!

Last week Generation Earth members met with youth representatives from 5 other WWF Youth Programs at the first-ever WWF European Youth Summit in Almtal, Upper Austria!  Together with youth from Sweden, Finland, Germany and the Ukraine as well as WWF staff from those countries and Belgium and Hong Kong, we worked on developing a stronger international network of youth programs and created a series of new, international action projects!

Wednesday ~ “Welcome everybody!”

After varying lengths of travel times (longest being over 50 hours!) we all arrived on Wednesday afternoon at the JUFA Almtal.  JUFA is an official WWF sponsor and provided us a great place to work and relax. After we checked in and had a nice lunch, we had time to get to know each other, exchange first stories, and get an overview of the week.  Nate (WWF-AT) started us off with some inspirational words, that got us to dive deeper into the topics of the week from finding out why we all are here to looking at the meaning of “sustainable consumption.” Full of motivation and curiousity, we are looking forward to to following 5 days together.

Thursday ~ “Diving into Sustainable Consumption”

The second day started with a workshop from 2 Generation Earth members, Nadine and Magdalena on “Sustainable Consumption,” as mentioned the central theme of the week. It was followed by our first project planning brainstorming, in which we mixed among the country groups and examined the question, “Who would we like to reach with the projects?” and “What do we hope to achieve through the projects?”  It was inspiring to see all the ideas and dreams that spilled out onto the flipchart papers.

In the afternoon, we had 2 workshops.  First, we looked at marketing and advertising followed by an interactive workshop on non-violent communication. In the evening, we crowded around the campfire, as our wilderness expert, Gitti, showed us how to make a fire without matches (using natural objects) and then with songs and stories, we shared a great night together.

Friday ~”Projects, Projects, and more Projects!”

On the third day, we focused on clarifying and defining our future, international projects. During the workshop on teambuilding and theme finding, we created 3 international groups, with which we wanted to work.  The focus of the projects were:

  1. Happy (Earth) Hour
  2. World Overshoot Day
  3. Nature connection

But before we got too deep into the planning, we heard some inspiring examples from various participants on projects that they had completed in the past. They shared what worked, and didn’t work so well, and what they learned from the experiences! Our motivation to give our best was super-charged and we could focus our energy in an afternoon project planning workshop. We spent a nice evening together going to the sauna and playing games.

Saturday ~ “Connecting with Nature!”

Weather: 10 from 10 points. Motivation: 11 from 10 points!

After another productive morning project planning session, it was off to the Almsee (lake)!  We were all looking so forward to getting some fresh air after our intense work and spending some time connecting to nature.

We could chose from 3 options: 1) kayaking with Theresa, 2) a sensory awareness “connecting with nature” walk with Nate, and 3) simply laying in the sun or going for a hike.  But before we headed out, we had an amazing vegan lunch prepared by a local, Resi, a friend from the nearby town. She opened the buffet of veggie lasagne, fresh bread, salads and various desserts, and we lounged in the meadow between the lake and admiring the picturesque mountains.

Upon return, we put a great deal of our energy and sweat into drafting a “Declaration of Almtal“ which provides recommendations and asks of the WWF International and National directors for how to engage and empower youth in the WWF.  Once the final word was added, we celebrated with music, games, and sweets from around the world!

Sunday ~”Time to say goodbye! For now…”

And as quickly as it began, it was time to say goodbye!  Before we could get too nostalgic though, we had our evaluation and feedback round followed by a touching “closing ceremony” where we could share some of our memories of the week and then gifted someone with a “power stone” from the river for them to take back with them.

One thing is clear: it was an incredibly, cool first WWF European Youth Summit and we’re already looking forward to reconnecting with our new found friends: online, in the projects, events, or perhaps at the next Youth Summit 2018!???

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