Morning runs along the beach, midnight swims in the Baltic sea and walks on a trail in the canopy and up a tower in the forest. The DBU (a German environmental association) and the ministry of the environment chose a nice place for the youth congress 2014 on biodiversity.
But it wasn’t just about enjoying the island of Rügen but to get together with more than 130 young people from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and learn more about biodiversity, environmental protection, discuss problems, ideas and plan projects. The program of the four days was as diverse and interesting as the topic biodiversity itself.
The first evening started with an interesting presentation to enter the topic and we had some time to talk to each other and get to know the other participants. With many members of the Pangaea Project present it was also great to catch up with each other.
Meeting up in the big conference room all together the next morning, we welcomed the German environment minister who had to deal with some of our difficult questions during a panel discussion.
In the afternoon, everyone could choose different workshops to learn more about a specific issue area, for example biodiversity and consumption, biodiversity in cities and the ocean. It was good to be divided in smaller groups, learn more about the topic and we had some interesting discussions. Naturally, our opinions in some points differed. But we agreed on a common interest in the environment and that more action needs to be taken to protect it. Every workshop team formulated several statements concerning politics, economy and society which were combined in a declaration that was given to the environment minister after the congress.
But to change something we also have to get active ourselves and the DBU supports several projects over the next year. Project ideas were presented in the evening and further discussed and planned the next day. While others were already presenting, Kirsten and Livio had the spontaneous idea to start a project together with the school in Uganda where they had been this summer. The idea is to organize an excursion with young students in Germany where they can explore the beauty of the black forest while Ugandan students do the same in their country. In a pen friendship between the two groups they can relive and reflect their experiences. The aim is to raise awareness about nature and to create a cultural exchange between the German and Ugandan students – based on their experiences outdoors. We were successful in getting financial support of the DBU and the project will take place next spring!
On saturday afternoon, it was time to explore more of the beautiful island Rügen. Different excursions went off to varying sites, for example the famous chalk cliffs. I went to the small island Vilm. After spending a long time with theory and discussing, it was wonderful to enjoy the sunshine and nature on this calm and idyllic island.
This evening also meant the last evening of the congress but we had a great atmosphere with a barbeque, a band playing and a little party.
Altogether it was encouraging to see that so many people are passionate about nature and the environment and actively take part in its protection. This congress was an amazing event to share ideas and motivate each other to start/continue being active!
The short video above gives some more impressions and it’s definitely worth watching (also if you don’t understand German)!