We, the participants of Waves of Democracy 2015 in Sønderborg present the following agenda :
As 100 young people from Europe and its neighbours, we gathered to exchange ideas about the current state of Europe, and to discuss a relevant vision for the future.
Our continent is facing fundamental challenges, and immediate action is needed in order to envision and realize a future of shared prosperity for all. Despite incredible economic growth and technological innovation in the past century, development wasn’t achieved in a sustainable way. In addition, Europe has been a popular destination for migrants for a long time. However, rising nationalist sentiments are leading to exclusion of refugees and migrants. Resentment and conflict are challenging historical narratives of inclusion and tolerance.
With these convictions in mind, we discussed three main topics : Environment & Sustainability , Migration & Mobility, and History & Memory.
We are aware of the challenges posed by a changing climate, including global warming, rising sea levels and more extreme weather among the consequences. These challenges need to be addressed immediately in order to limit their effect. Therefore, we believe that a transition to an environmentally friendly economy and a sustainable society is crucial. This transition can be facilitated by many means, including the use of legal and regulatory frameworks designed to reduce waste and pollution, increase adoption of eco-friendly products and promote awareness of the immediate and long term consequences of unsustainable consumption.
In the past 70 years, relations between most European nations have greatly improved. Nevertheless, history and memory are still relevant to us, both regarding a common European history and relating to the re-emergence of national, ethnic and religious identifications. In Europe, we defend a common project based on dialogue, tolerance and understanding, and where history and memory aren’t motivated by national or government interests. We suggest that Europe can develop a one week-long annual project designed for teachers and students to learn and discuss about both past and current European conflicts. Moreover, we want to create a platform for critical understanding of history aimed at increasing the role of individual stories in world history.
It is our position that fear and resentment toward migrants is mainly driven by a lack of awareness and exposure to the realities experienced by asylum seekers. Subsequently, raising local awareness by creating an objective narrative with an emphasis on the human aspect, is essential. In a perfect world, society is aware, respectful, tolerant and accepting of the “otherness”. Also, constructive dialogue is the foundation of an open-minded approach. Therefore, we believe actions taken on a local level are more effective and may be implemented faster than global action. Our objective is to communicate the complex and trying situations faced by individual migrants, without losing the complexity of the larger issues at hand. We must provide human support beyond papers, thus the importance of building local support networks. Migrants who are already in the territory (particularly second or third generation migrants) could establish connections with refugees of the same country of origin; in addition to the classical approach of working with NGOs, civil society, youth (debates, high school projects, music, movies, etc.)
With each of these topics in mind, Sønderborg is a most adequate city to host Waves of Democracy 2015. It is a role model in the transition toward a more sustainable future, dealing with minorities and refugees, and is a leading example in cross-border cooperation. As a group of 100 young Europeans having deeply considered, debated, and reflected on these issues for five days in Sønderborg, we submit our action oriented proposals for your review.
Change is needed, and it is needed now!