Amplifying Youth Voices in Eastern Europe

Author: DMN Creative

Eastern Europe Political Context

To prioritise profit over sustainability remains the dominating political agenda in most of the Eastern European countries. Phenomena such as political distrust and apathy have gained ground in the past years. As a consequence, a decrease in political engagement is seen across the populations. Alarmingly, less than one third of the younger population express satisfaction with or trust in any political party to represent their needs. The already restrictive political environments and splitting narratives accompanied by the consequences of the pandemic and the ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine have widened the gap between the rights holders and duty bearers and deprived the youth of their rights to decision-making. In particular, youth organisations have been further restrained from having a social and political impact on all levels of society.

It is only when democratic principles and human rights are respected and practised that resilient and just societies can be built, in which the youth have equal opportunities to engage in and influence politics. Therefore, our long-term partnership with an umbrella organisation of Eastern European Green Youth organisations aims to raise the level of participation of youth in political processes in Eastern Europe.

Amplifying youth voices in Eastern Europe

Green Forum, by partnering with Cooperation and Development Network Eastern Europe (CDN), contributes to consolidating the green youth movement in the region of Eastern Europe and Western Balkans.

CDN is a capacity-building network of youth-led organisations committed to the development and implementation of green ideas in Eastern Europe. CDN unites 15 member and 6 partner organisations from all over Eastern Europe. The organisation argues that youth have a crucial, active and direct role to play in the development of a sustainable and democratic society. This role puts great demand on co-learning, sharing of knowledge and experiences, and active collaboration for young people, especially on international and inter-cultural levels.

CDN acknowledges that young people and youth organisations need support in their work to remove barriers  to access their rights. CDN also works proactively on empowering young people to stand up for their rights and raise their political voices. This is done on three levels: (1) raising awareness about human rights through non-formal education methods at educational or statutory events; (2) sharpening young peoples’ advocacy skills for them to increase their agency and; (3) supporting young activists to become agents of change by entering politics in their local realities.

The partnership also supports the political maturity and ideological advancement on green issues of CDN and its member organisations. CDN provides capacity strengthening support to its member organisations in order for them to play a more active role in youth advocacy, take an active role in local political processes and become more known and referred to by wider audiences.

CDN is doing this through, for example,  international seminars, political conferences, solidarity campaigns, as well as coordinating the cooperation between the countries of the Eastern Partnership and Western Balkans.

Over the past decade, a number of CDN alumni have entered local, national or European politics. However, given the turbulent political contexts that many CDN member organisations have to operate in, together we constantly seek new methodologies in order to address and overcome the external challenges and always remain relevant.