Just to sum up … 2021 at YEE

In 2021, YEE went through a large-scale expansion. From 17 volunteers and two staff members in 2020, YEE has grown up to 35 volunteers, and 11 paid staff members. During the year, three European Solidarity Corps Volunteers joined us as well and contributed to the progress of YEE while developing their skills. To manage growth, we have been building resilient internal structures that serve the purpose of the network and the well-being of the team, and at the same time allow for inclusive working processes.

During the Extraordinary General Assembly in March 2021, YEE established a new internal working group – the Regional Teams. Member organisations of YEE elected four Regional Contact Persons who have since then been creating space for member organisations of YEE to connect on the regional level. Regional Contact Persons will be elected on annual basis.

In June, we finished our work plan 2020, Imagining the Green Future: Environmental Strategy and Youth Advocacy, which had to be delayed due to COVID-19. The work plan encompassed two week-long trainings on organisational development and youth advocacy and seven local actions carried out by training participants. YEE supported local actions in Armenia, Italy, Serbia, Georgia, Denmark and Poland.

In the same month, participants of the Franco-Russian Dialogue finished their massive work – 105 pages of policy proposals for the next twenty years to the French and Russian governments. In September, the policy proposals on biodiversity were presented by four delegates at the French Pavilion of the IUCN congress in Marseille.

In October, YEE participated at the 7th Meeting of the Parties (MoP7) of the Aarhus Convention, bringing a youth voice to this process. We contributed with statements on the EU’s double-standards regarding its non-compliance with the Convention and on the importance of youth in public participation processes, and we created a simple handbook on access to justice at EU level. We also held a MoP side-event on youth environmental defenders and how this new instrument can support them.

In November 2021, we launched our brand-new project “Strengthening the European Youth Climate Movement: Showcasing and Supporting the Unheard”. Our goal is to support marginalised young people between 12 and 30 years old in entering the climate movement, through participation in community projects and local decision-making processes. This project will run until March 2023 and include a wide range of activities, such as the development of a safeguarding policy, the setting up of a mentoring program and the establishment of a sub-granting scheme.

We have also participated at COP for the first time. A delegation of nine-people was sent to Glasgow to represent the organisation and the European youth. Majority of efforts from the YEE team focused on collaborating with other young leaders in the event and showcasing the work that YEE does on particular topics, including meeting and being interviewed by journalists.

In the same month, we happily announced our new partnership with Euronews Green and our new interview series Meet the Green Generation where we help to share the stories of marginalised young people of the climate movement. We conducted our first interview with a young activist and will continue during 2022.

Overall, it was a busy year at YEE. We conducted two General Assemblies, 20 meetings of the Executive Board, 4 Regional meetings, over a 100 meetings of Secretariat and had countless Zoom hours with project teams, in one-on-one check-ins and strategic meetings, and informal chats in-between.

2021 was a fruitful year at YEE. Now, we are ready for 2022 – the year of youth!