Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia organised a regional event 'Balkan Youth Climate Movement' camp from July 25th until July 31st 2016 in the Solar Academy on the Island of Šolta, near Split, in Croatia. The purpose of the week-long camp for over 40 young people from Western Balkans and Turkey was to educate and build the capacity of young leaders in the region to be able to understand the results of COP21 and to advocate for climate justice.
Education and capacity building is needed because the SEE region is facing many problems - from dirty coal fired projects and oil drilling to climate change impacts like floods or drought. Furthermore, we are witnessing a humanitarian crisis - people are fleeing to Europe because they are running from war, political persecution, economic distress, famine, environmental degradation, climate change. Migration is one of the most visible manifestations of environmental and climate injustice, because many people lost their homes due to the unwillingness of some rich countries to acknowledge and act according to their (historical) responsibilities.
The youth in this region are a huge part of all these struggles and can be the drivers of real change. We need a cross-border connection between young people and youth groups to strengthen our capacities and increase public pressure for action on climate change.
During the camp we held educational workshops on energy, climate change and climate justice related topics (both in South-Eastern Europe and globally), workshops and trainings lead by experienced campaigners from SEENET, Friends of the Earth, and wider, and skill-sharing sessions lead by participants. We also discussed the current humanitarian crisis and thus produced a statement to send a clear message - refugees welcome to the Balkans.
After the event, participants launched a new website where they plan to share information on youth activities in the region as well as writting opinion pieces.
The camp in 2016 was a follow up from the camp that we organised in 2014 on Šotla Island in order to educate and mobilise 50 young people in South-East Europe (SEE) for climate justice, and to prepare activities related to climate change prior to the UN climate negotiations in Paris (COP21) in 2015. In 2015, we organised a smaller meeting of 10 people on Šolta to prepare the event in 2016, and to plan for COP21. As a result, we organised a bus with around 20 activists from Western Balkans who went to Paris to participate in the civil society mobilisations at the end of COP21, in order to put pressure on governments.
**This event was funded by ETNAR. Project ETNAR is being implemented with the financial assistance of the European union.
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