On 12th October 2021, Euromontana organised its annual conference on “Being young in a mountain area in 2021”. The event was the opportunity to highlight the needs and desires of young people for the future of the mountains. The conference gave the floor to different mountain organisations that have recently surveyed the needs of young people, as well as to European and Alpine representatives who want to empower young people and better include them in public life. Above all, the conference also featured young people who shared their views and projects for the future of the mountains.
Addressing the needs of young people
The conference presented the results of different surveys on mountain youth carried out by Euromontana at European level, by the Pyrenean Working Community in the Pyrenees and by Riabitare l’Italia in the Italian inner areas. The results from these surveys demonstrate that mountain areas are attractive for young people but all three also show that education and employment remain problematic in most areas. They also highlight how importance are environmental issues and nature protection for today’s youth, a conclusion illustrated by the examples of initiatives carried out by several young people invited to speak at the conference.
To address the needs of young people, institutions must involve them in the decision making and support their projects. Biliana Sirakova, EU Youth Coordinator, Marion Ebster from CIPRA international and Pauline Treissac, from region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté for the EUSALP French Presidency therefore presented how they involve young people in policies, by creating youth councils or by supporting and accompanying them in their projects.
The key messages of the conference were summarised as follow by Isabelle Roux, Director of Educ’Alpes as a paraphrase of a famous quote of Antoine de St Exupéry, “we should ask ourselves: what mountain will we leave to the young but also what young people will we leave to the mountain?”
This conference was an opportunity to take stock of the desires of mountain youth and to showcase the possible ways to address their needs. The results of Euromontana’s European survey on mountain youth will be published in a report, together with country profiles, by January 2022.
Because young people are the future of mountain areas, these reflections will also feed into the debates for smarter mountains at the XIIth European Mountain Convention on 25-26-27 October 2022 in the Italian natural park and biosphere reserve of Sila. Details of the interventions are available in the conference report. You can also find speakers’ presentations on the event webpage.25 October 2021