The final event of the European Green Week “Sustainable Development Goals for a Green Future: Investing for Future Generations” was organized and hosted by the Austrian Ministry of the Environment and the European Commission in partnership with the European Sustainable Development Week initiative and UNEP Europe.
Taking place in Vienna International Centre, it had the aim of fostering dialogue between high ranking policymakers and European Youth representatives about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The event was a great success with young people from 22 countries registering to take part in the event. The event began with a video message from Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.The event included, among others, key notes from Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Andrä Rupprechter, Austrian Minister of the Environment. Please see the conference programme or view the this video of the event for further information.
Presentation on SDGs:
The youth representatives took part in in interactive group work sessions on particular topics to work on key messages on how they can personally participate and what institutions can do to facilitate this. These messages were then prioritized by voting and discussed with Commissioner Vella and Minister Rupprechter.
Key messages from the working groups included the following (top priorities are highlighted):
Group: NGOs, political parties and associations
- Take time off to volunteer (supported by your work)
- Raising awareness and encouraging youth to become part of the process
- More institutional funding to programs dedicated to awareness-raising on sustainable development – change the way these funds are used to allow youth organizations to access them
- Financial (tax) benefit for volunteer work
Group: Digital & Social Media
- I have the self-responsibility to be informed, to be a multiplier on and to communicate the SDGs
- I can bring the SDGs among my online- & offline friends
- Politicians shall use their (social-) media presence to always bring up the link to a corresponding SDG
- Institutions should interact more with civil society to make people experience the SDGs
Group: Responsible Production & Consumption
- Sexy communication of positive stories instead of problem communication. Usage of target group specific communication technologies (social media for young people…)
- As consumers, we all have impacts on product ranges in supermarkets and in our free time
- Strengthen environmental laws, restrictions for a good environmental basis (food waste, transparent pricing of products)
- Force companies to behave in a responsible and environmentally friendly way (long lasting products, sharing concepts like „LEIHLAS“ in Vienna)
Group: Sustainable Cities & Communities
- Get active – join groups, organizations, parties
- Integrate sustainability in daily habits, share information and motivate others
- Provide education on environmental management on all levels i.e. schools, university, technical training
- Provide infrastructure for sustainable living; governments should make it easier to live sustainably i.e. transport, housing etc.
Group: Green Start-ups & Social Entrepreneurship
- Creating a hype about Green start-ups (media, social media)
- Establishing partnership with media and/or companies: sharing advertising spaces (billboards, video screen in metros, etc.) for Green start-up ideas
- Remove barriers that prevent individuals and small and medium sized enterprises to do Green start-ups
- Matching interests for Green start-ups on online platform (universal access) to bring venture capitalists together with start-up ideas
Group: Quality Education
- Make your voice heard, get involved!
- Open access to education does not ensure quality education
- Encourage cross-cultural education + exchange and enhance funding for exchange programs
- Integrate Students in curriculum evaluation
Group: Climate Change
- Make voice heard through NGOs and improve tools for public consultation
- Increase level of information lead to individual behaviour change
- Ecological tax system, phase out environmentally harmful subsidies
- Mitigation first (developed countries) get rid of mal adaptation (all countries)
VIC SDG Tree Alley
The conference participants joined Commissioner Vella and Minister Rupprechter in the ceremonial planting of the 17 trees, representing the 17 SDGs in the “VIC SDG Tree Alley“.