YEEC 2022: give a voice to young people

During 13-17 March 2022, the first edition of the Congress for Young People of Environmental Education (YEEC) took place in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The main theme of the congress focused on the importance of listening to young people in understanding and action to combat climate change, especially through education. Over the four days, teachers, policy makers and young people from all over the world were able to debate and share ideas between generations.

Photo 1: Over the course of several days, young people have had the opportunity to exhibit their projects and demonstrate their contribution to global climate change.

At YEEC, young people around the world have shown a leading role in demonstrating their values, convictions and opinions, with a mind in mind raising their voice and making themselves heard in a world surrounded by adults. Challenged by the organizers (Katerina Borovinová, Jiri Kulich, Silvie Kozlovská, Lucie Juríková and Katarína Čizmárová) participants discussed environmental issues through round tables, workshops, local visits and storytelling. 

The work began with the words of Jiri Kulich, professor and director of Sever, one of the largest environmental education associations in the Czech Republic, through talks on how environmental education in childhood can determine the resolution of problems in the future of young people and the importance of teachers’ literacy in passing the message to their students.

Photo 2: Ideas debate event given by the United Nations Delegation in Prague, Czech Republic.

The theoretical aspect of an event is essential, but putting this theory into practice can be a great challenge. However, YEEC presented several workshops and side events (such as educational environmental games – simulation and board games, round discussion tables, experiences and excursions) that allowed us to go beyond words, passing through the various paths of the environment, drawing attention to the need to act urgently – “we need to take care of our mother house”. The workshops provided ranged from visual art, audiovisual production, theater, poetry, debate, open space, comedy and speak up.

Over the course of one of the days, participants were divided into seven groups, where they began to answer a question proposed to them about the role of education in the lives of young people, based on the diversification of the message to be shared at the World Congress of Environmental Education (WEEC). These activities, workshops and parallel events allowed, in a short time, to create several messages that were exhibited at WEEC, combining the arts of performance with the debate between generations, going through theatrical moments, poetry, union and interpersonal reflection, in the way environmental education is approached throughout the world. All this panphero has made it possible for young people to meet policy makers and experts in the field by sharing unique and personal views – from an informal perspective – with members of the European Commission Representation in the Czech Republic, the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic. Later, they discussed with young people the fundamental points of climate change, with the importance of youth participation combined with the political decisions of older people.

Photo 3: As in all events, the participants met to get to know each other better, in order to establish contacts and, possibly, future partnerships in the most diverse areas, namely those of environmental education.

Like this, YEEC and WEEC have brought together “kids and adults” to promote environmental debate, reflecting on their approach, never forgetting the importance of the message: “young people today are the decision makers of tomorrow”. The event thus leaves the city of Prague and marks a position already in 2024, in Abu Dhabi, in United Arab Emirates, hoping to present better results and reflections in the face of the panorama of 2022. 

The YRE Portugal  team in Prague (Catarina Braga, Catarina Oliveira, Diogo Martins, João Pedro Costa and Pedro Lázaro)

“The participation of the Young Reporters for the Environment in YEEC would not have been possible without the great support of the Erasmus + programme that served as facilitator for this great enriching and unique opportunity to travel and meet young people from all over the world.

Catarina Semedo de Oliveira, Diogo Martins, João Pedro Costa