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Young Voices, New Ideas

Young people in the Alps (c) YPAC
Young people want to be heard and taken seriously. That requires staying power. CIPRA is helping.

7 September 2012, meeting of the environment ministers of the Alpine Convention states in Poschiavo/CH: One last question is granted to the journalists attending the press conference. Isabella Hilber, 16, stands up. All eyes are on the young woman. "Everyone keeps saying how wonderful it is that we are here, and yet we are rarely permitted to speak. Why is that?" The vague reply given by the Swiss Minister of the Environment Doris Leuthard fails to satisfy the Austrian representative of the Youth Parliament to the Alpine Convention. Her persistence is finally rewarded - German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier promises always to have an open ear for the young.
15 March 2013, Youth Parliament to the Alpine Convention in Sonthofen/D: Arzu Altintas, 19, editor-in-chief of the press group, is in high spirits as she waves a letter from Peter Altmaier in the air. Her colleagues gather to hear the news. "He's invited us to Berlin to present our resolution!" The letter is Altmaier's response to an invitation sent by the youngsters. Arzu wrote the invitation and in it quoted the words spoken by the Environment Minister at the Poschiavo press conference. The text was supplied by CIPRA, who provided a live stream of the conference on Facebook and coached the young people at the conference in Poschiavo and also at the Youth Parliament in Sonthofen on the subject of "My Alpine Town of the Future".
26/27 June 2013, Cortina d'Ampezzo/I: Sixteen youngsters and young adults discuss with the members of the Alpine Convention's Standing Committee questions submitted in advance on the subject of the Green Economy. "New Generations for the Alps" is the name of the initiative launched by the Italian chair, with the objective of bringing the Alpine Convention closer to the young generation and vice-versa.
Spring/summer 2013, in various Alpine towns and cities: Young people present their local politicians with the resolution approved by the Youth Parliament to the Alpine Convention. This was organised by the Alpine Town of the Year Association, whose office is run by CIPRA. The youngsters are also present at the General Assembly. Will one or two of their demands - such as study programmes with an environmental focus - find their way onto the Alpine Towns' political agenda?
October 2013, Bolzano/I: Half a dozen young people from all the countries of the Alps present their ideas for collaboration to
CIPRA delegates. The CIPRA Youth Committee is born. It advises CIPRA bodies on all relevant questions.
The fruits of a busy year: The Standing Committee, a group of senior officials at the Alpine Convention, has put the subject of youth involvement on the agenda, as has the Alpine Town of the Year Association. The invitation to come to Berlin has become an invitation to participate in a video chat in the near but unspecified future. As no date has been fixed, however, the representatives of the 2014 Youth Parliament in Chamonix will have to chase the matter. CIPRA will again be there to support them, this time as official partner of the Youth Parliament to the Alpine Convention.

Barbara Wülser
CIPRA International

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Tried and Tested Cooperation
CIPRA and the Alpine Town of the Year Association offer a network for young people in the Alps. It all began in March 2013 with the Youth Parliament to the Alpine Convention (YPAC). The objective of YPAC is to give young people initial experience of political decision-making.
CIPRA supported teachers in preparing the young people with regard to the topics, organised expert assistance and coached the youngsters in public relations. The network of Alpine towns was responsible for the smooth running of the event and the necessary funding, and encouraged politicians from all the Alpine countries to travel to Sonthofen, the 2005 Alpine Town of the Year, for an open exchange with the young people there. CIPRA also put young people in touch with the national representations to sound out possible joint ventures. This led to the CIPRA Youth Council being formed.
All these activities were made possible by the financial support of the EU's Youth in Action programme, the municipality of Sonthofen, the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Health, the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the Austrian Ministry of Life and the District of Oberallgäu.
www.cipra.org/youth
www.alpenstaedte.org/en
www.ypac.eu


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Source: Annual Report 2013, CIPRA International, http://www.cipra.org/annual-reports

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