Arctic Youth Input to the EU Arctic Policy | Joint Recommendations from the Arctic Youth Network and YEE

The temperatures in the Arctic continue to rise at more than twice the global annual average, driving many of the unprecedented changes. These changes impact both local ecosystems and the global climate system, and as we learned already – what happens in the Arctic doesn’t  stay in the Arctic. The question is, how can we stop this? To discuss the youth participation in Arctic matters in light of the updating of the EU Arctic policy, YEE met together with the Arctic Youth Network and the EU Arctic Ambassador Michael Mann. Following up the discussion, the AYN and YEE co-authored a paper with recommendations for the EU Arctic Ambassador to consider in reviewing the EU Arctic Policy. 

The Arctic’s unique nature is very rich in natural resources such as hydrocarbons, minerals and fish stocks. The northernmost region of Earth also helps to regulate the world’s temperature. Simply said, as more Arctic ice melts the warmer our world becomes. In order to tackle the climate crisis, it is therefore essential to preserve the Arctic. However, this vulnerable region is already under increasing pressure from pollution, climate change and unsustainable development. 

In July 2020, the European Commission and the European External Action Service jointly launched an open public consultation on the way forward for the EU’s Arctic policy. The consultation enabled the public, including European youth, to reflect on the EU’s Arctic policy in the face of new challenges and opportunities, including the EU’s ambitions under the European Green Deal. The deadline for submitting feedback and concerns on reviewing EU Arctic´s policy was November 2020, which was also a month during which we held the youth dialogue with the EU Arctic Ambassador, Michael Mann. 

Michael has taken up the challenging task of updating the EU Arctic policy centered around three priorities – Climate Change and Safeguarding the Arctic Environment, Sustainable Development in and around the Arctic and International Cooperation on Arctic Issues. The updated policy aims to reflect the current challenges of the changing Arctic climate, in both natural and geopolitical terms. As a result of our fruitful meeting with Michael, we agreed on ensuring the youth participation in this policy-making process. 

And here we are! Today we are delighted to share with you the Arctic Youth Input to the EU Arctic Policy – Joint Recommendations from the Arctic Youth Network and Youth for Environment Europe. Our recommendation paper reflects the youth perspectives on the European Union´s involvement in the Arctic and provides guidance for decision-makers on how to better involve youth in the Arctic matters. Together with Arctic Youth Network, we have prioritized youth voices from the Northern territories as we would like our paper to primarily serve as a platform for their views to reach youth relating matters that directly affect them.

So what are our recommendations? The Arctic Youth Network and Youth for Environment Europe want to encourage the EU Arctic Envoy to continue their work to expand its Arctic involvement through the further adaptation of both internal and external measures. Specifically working to encourage the inclusion of Arctic youth and Indigenous peoples into the actions that will directly affect their futures. The measurements the EU implements upon their own member countries also affects decision makers elsewhere in the world. The EU, therefore, has an opportunity to set a standard for environmental and cultural sustainability and we hope this is an area that we can collaboratively continue to develop in the coming years.

The contributions were very much welcomed by Michael Mann and taken into account as he will soon participate in a webinar  on the future of the Arctic and the views of young people. The leader of YEE´s work on the Arctic, Ven Galanaki, concludes ‘’It is great to see that a public official is so willing to hear youth groups and really welcomes our perspectives. Now it remains to be seen to what extent that will be reflected in the EU Arctic Policy.’’  YEE and the AYN will remain vigilant, and we are looking forward to further developments of the cooperation. 

Read the full Youth recommendations to the EU Arctic Ambassador here. 

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