Sustaining our Future – Closing a project

Sustaining our Future was AEGEE’s Flagship Project 2008-2009.

Sustaining our Future
was voted on as Flagship Project at Agora Malta in spring 2007. At that time it was just a proposal, which was shaped into concrete frames and focuses in several planning meetings during 2007. The main aim of the project was to raise knowledge and involvement of European youth and their communities in the topic of sustainable development.

As this was new field to explore for AEGEE, the project took more of the task to introduce sustainability into the organisation and make way for further integration. The focus points were: European citizenship, education for sustainable development, sustainable living solutions and consumption patterns, and social responsibility of European youth organisations. Fitting into AEGEE practice, the main elements to reach the aims were non-formal education methods and cross-cultural learning.

The project was kicked off in June 5th, 2008 with European Day of Environment – AEGEE way to celebrate the World Environment Day. Different actions in AEGEE local groups all over Europe were organized in order to draw attention to the influences our surroundings has on us.

The events of Sustaining our Future took participants to different parts of Europe, exploring different aspects of sustainability: from the Scandinavian sustainable lifestyle in Denmark to the sustainability in the city of Madrid. Two events focused on the uniqueness of Danube River and the role it plays in big part of Europe – from immense biodiversity in Danube Delta to the connection between the river and human development, explored in Bratislava and Vienna.

AEGEE took also new step with the youth think tank event, organized in the frames of Sustaining our Future, in spring 2009 in Brussels. Different companies proposed questions related to real problems concerning sustainable development that participants in small groups had to answer within 6 hours. The papers were judged and best solution rewarded with 1000 euros.

Over the two years that Sustaining our Future was running, it can be estimated that over 1500 young people all over Europe were directly involved or influenced by the project – learning from real life cases, seeing the problems and solutions in real life, talking to people dealing with sustainability, having group works, role plays, discussions among themselves, etc. Dozens of AEGEE members became more active and decided to organize events related to environment on the local level. Extra to that, having sustainable development on AEGEE’s agenda, raised the awareness in whole organization and also among our partners.

The results booklet of the project (“Youth’s Eye on Sustainability”, to be published in April 2010) can be considered the final activity of Sustaining our Future, as it aims not only to show the results of the project, but to be used also as guidebook and good example for young people – in the different issues of sustainable development.

The main results of the project can in summary (achieved with the help of different AEGEE bodies):
• Increasing knowledge, interest and involvement of AEGEE members (and European youth in general) into issues connected to sustainable development.
• Sharing best practices and guidelines of sustainable resources’ management and lifestyle all over Europe.
• Integrating sustainability aspects into the functioning of AEGEE and the organisation of our events in general.
• Showing the link between sustainable development and the everyday life.
• Empowering young people to take active role in sustainability issues, from giving opinion to stakeholders to organising local actions.

In the frames of Sustaining our Future project, AEGEE became partner of IUCN’s Countdown 2010 initiative, aiming to halt the loss of biodiversity. Sustaining our Future was also declared national winner in the Charlemagne Youth Prize competition in 2008, by the European Parliament and the Foundation of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen.

Sustaining our Future project was made real by a team of 16 young people, from 9 European countries, all working on full voluntary basis.

Kadri Kalle
Project manager of Sustaining our Future