The Wild Rivers Manifesto
How did we create it?
To who did we present it?
What is it actually about?
2. The Wild Rivers Manifesto
3. Presentation and discussion at the House of the European Union
1. The Process
This year’s topic was dedicated to wild, untamed rivers that are undergoing big distress in Europe and worldwide. According to WWF’s study only 10 % of the rivers (or river stretches) in the Alps remains in natural state. To put a spotlight on this issue we dedicated a week for workshops, knowledge exchange, peer empowerment and political action. A major output was our Youth Manifesto for Wild Rivers. With this document we want to present our vision for protection of this jewels that should be kept free for the future generations.
27th September 2017, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Our youth members of the Youth Network for River Action, and participants of the Wild Rivers Camp 2017, presented their Youth Manifesto for Wild Rivers 2017 to the representative of European Commission, Mr. Zoran Stančič, at the House of the European Union. You can now read about it here in the following text and download the full version it here.
Drafting this Manifesto was not an easy task, or better call it a process. We first got to know the beauty and the beast situation: what we have and what are the threats to wild rivers. Each one of us has a local experience with threats and we wanted to mention them all, from simple concrete embankment to structural, administrative issues that contribute to ruin our rivers.
Then we agreed on the structure of the Manifesto and how to present our demands. We worked in three groups and then jointly put the document together. It took another session of group work (we scarified our “after dinner” free evening!) to perfect the final version.
Our final demands can be summarised in 7 key points:
- River restoration
- Independent evaluation
- Youth participation
- Catchment management
- Rethinking hydropower
- River education
Photo: Inès Joubert-Boitat
Download the PDF version here
But those demands on paper have no value if not presented to key decision makers. Therefore we visited representative of European Commission, Mr. Zoran Stančič, in Ljubljana. We handed him over the Manifesto and expressed our concerns and demands. You can find below a summary of this meeting.
Mr. Zoran Stančič, representative of the European Commission in Slovenia, recalled the importance of the European youths in the construction and development of the European Union. The influence of the youths in policy making and legislation change has in fact already been proven. In 2015, actions from youth organisations, incuding a large petition eventually brought about a change in the European legislation regarding the minimum age for voting (lowering it from 18 to 16 years old). Furthermore, European collaboration among the youths should not stop at the borders of the European Union, but instead go beyond them, as recalled in President Juncker’s State of the Union speech (September 2017). Involving in YNRA’s River Camps participants from countries not members of the European Union is hence of particular relevance.
Mr. Zoran Stančič gave then advices to the participants to increase their influence on policy making, and to eventually have an impact on European policies. The time dimension is crucial in the context of policy making. Staying tuned regarding the timeline for drafting new legislations or revising existing ones, and getting thus contact at the right moment in the process, is key for making a change. Therefore, the youths need to stay informed on this aspect and act accordingly. While participating to sessions on public consultation at the European level with one youth voice, individuals are also encouraged to participate locally to such sessions. Mr. Zoran Stančič stressed the importance of not acting as a trouble maker, but instead as a change-maker in order to be listened to and have a sustainable and positive impact. Finally, the youths should always keep a link in their actions to science and make reference to it. Policy should indeed always be based on science to avoid wrong decisions to be taken.
Photo: Oana Zaulet
As far as environmental protection is concerned, a higher importance is nowadays paid to the related issues with corresponding legislations and increased budget compared to 20 years ago. While the situation is not yet perfect, it is improving and going into the right direction.
Following our discussion, Mr. Zoran Stančič promised to communicate the information internally, by reporting to interested parties in DG Environment (ENV) and DG Energy (ENER) on our Youth Manifesto for Wild Rivers Protection. It is hoped that this dissemination inspires policy-makers and convince them to include parts or all Manifesto’s demands into future legislations.
Photo: Inès Joubert-Boitat