The activities of the EUSALP Youth Council for the year 2023-2024 started more concretely last weekend during the team building event. After several online meetings in one month to prepare for the various missions that awaited the group, the 25 councillors were invited to the first EUSALP Youth Council team building.
Before leaving for Sigmaringen, each member contacted the representatives of their Region to arrange transportation. This was an opportunity to kickstart the collaboration, which will last throughout their experience of citizen participation.
The event began on Friday evening and concluded on Sunday noon. We were fortunate to have the participation of Timothy Sung, a former member of the EUSALP Youth Council, co-facilitating the event.
We would also like to express our gratitude to Pauline Treissac, a member of the executive board of EUSALP for the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Region.
Lastly, a big thank you to the German State of Baden-Württemberg, which provided financial support for organizing this event, and was represented by Fiona Faas, a member of the executive board of EUSALP for the Baden-Württemberg State.
We will provide a brief written summary of the weekend in this article. For those who prefer images over words, you can simply visit our Instagram account @eusalp_youth.
Friday, July 28th
Welcome to the EUSALP Youth Council
The participants arrived in the afternoon at the Sigmaringen Youth Hostel. Some had traveled for more than 10 hours to attend the event and needed rest before starting the work.
The first evening was designed to allow the participants to get to know each other better and share their vision of political engagement and the Alpine region.
To achieve this, they were able to choose quotes scattered around the room and then share them with the group. It was a very inspiring and motivating moment for the participants.
Using the same principle, the young people were able to choose cards from the Dixit game that represented their dreams and fears for the Alpine region in 10 years.
This sincere sharing moment, linked to the themes of the team building, was a perfect starting point for the weekend.
Saturday, July 29th
Studious morning to get involved in EUSALP activities
The first morning of the team building event was dedicated to sharing the results of the previous term of the EUSALP youth council with the new members. This presentation was conducted by Timothy and the members who renewed their mandate for an additional year. This knowledge-sharing format, where young council members present their work to their peers, is a great way to give more responsibilities and autonomy to the group. It is a major goal of our youth participation project.
Once the questions regarding EUSALP and the functioning of the Youth Council were resolved, the members had to choose which thematic group they wanted to get involved in during their mandate. Members were encouraged to choose the group that best matched their interests and skills to enhance their engagement and contribution within the EUSALP Youth Council. They had the choice between four thematic groups, which are:
- Economic development
- Environment and Alpine cultural heritage
- EUSALP Youth outreach
Each thematic group had the mission of working on projects and initiatives related to their specific domain within the Alpine region.
After this time in thematic groups, the members had the opportunity to discuss in a plenary session topics related to the internal functioning of the EUSALP Youth Council. The primary goal was to draft the 2023-2024 version of the Youth Council position paper. Each group will contribute to co-write this document. Among other subjects, they discussed who would represent the Youth Council at the next General Assembly of EUSALP in Bad-Ragaz in October.
Throughout this morning, the Youth Council took ownership of its role, objectives, and future actions. This was the purpose of this working time.
We took advantage of the clear weather in the afternoon to get some fresh air and explore the city of Sigmaringen. The young participants could prepare their own lunch boxes during breakfast, and we had a picnic in front of the magnificent castle of the city. We also took some group photos.
We were lucky with the weather which let us take the official picture outside which is always better.
Finally, we wanted the Youth Council members to discover the city while continuing to work on their projects and their involvement within EUSALP. The solution was found with a game in the form of challenges in the streets of Sigmaringen. We divided the young councillors into 4 teams corresponding to the thematic groups.
Then we gave them a roadmap with a map and 4 challenges:
The purpose of these challenges was to find concrete examples of projects related to their thematic groups, to meet local residents and ask them questions about local infrastructure, and finally, to think about recommendations to be made to local elected officials within the city hall.
On the way back from downtown, another plenary session concerning internal affairs of the Youth Council was scheduled. The young members extensively discussed the creation of their statutes and upcoming deadlines within EUSALP.
We had asked each participant to bring a culinary specialty from their homes. We took advantage of this sharing moment to celebrate the birthday of one of the youth council members. It was a beautiful time for everyone, and perhaps also the beginning of future friendships.
Sunday, July 30th
Preparing for what's next
The last day of this busy weekend allowed the Youth Council to come together and plan for the upcoming tasks and deadlines. They completed the to-do list and divided the tasks among themselves.
In the near future
So what's next?
Here are the upcoming missions of the Youth Council for the next few months before the handover from the Swiss to the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region:
- The Youth Council members are currently working on the new version of the position paper, which will be published on our website soon.
- Two members will participate in the next EB meeting and the Mobility Conference in Lugano, as part of the Swiss Presidency.
- The Youth Council members must also elect their representatives for the upcoming General Assembly in Bad-Ragaz. Each candidate has written a motivational message for members to vote for their representatives.
- A working group has been formed to continue writing the Youth Council’s statutes and seek validation soon.
- The Youth Council has been invited by the Swiss Presidency to an internal event and a meeting with representatives of the Vaud Canton Youth Council and political representatives in Lausanne on September 8, 2023. During this event, they will prepare the documents to be presented at the next General Assembly. A preliminary working document already exists from the Youth Council’s participation in the SCUOL water conference.
- In October, four Youth Council members will attend the EUSALP Annual Forum, and two will participate in the General Assembly.
- Lastly, the Youth Council members will be invited to the Pitch Your Project competition finale, taking place on November 21 in Strasbourg, within the Grand-Est region.
The Youth Council members will also be organizing the contacts with the members of the 9 EUSALP action groups and the partners who previously collaborated with former Youth Council members.