“It’s the End of the World As We Know It” was the quote from R.E.M.’s song that the Day 2 of the Young Ideas for Europe at the International English Gymnasium Södermalm started with. Anna Bengtsson from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (Naturskyddsföreningen in Swedish) held a great presentation about climate solutions and a discussion with the project participants. The students discussed how we can actually change the world – as individuals and as a strong youth generation. We need to change our lifestyle, but we also have to get the politicians to act.
During the previous day the participants developed their own ideas regarding how they want the future of EU’s and Sweden’s climate and environmental regulation look like. Today was the day filled with meetings with the experts in this field and the day’s main purpose was to discuss and test those ideas. Next to Anna, we also got to meet Maria Wetterstrand, a former spokesperson for the Green Party of Sweden, and Johanna Lakso, a founder of the Swedish Youth Climate Movement (PUSH Sverige).
Maria Wetterstrand gave us an inspiring speech about innovations and a power that any country or organisation can exercise to make change happen. Being a former politician, she got a lot of questions from the students about reality of political life and the policy-making process. Maria also gave each student a signed copy of her latest book, “The New Green Wave” – a book about real-world working solutions for a sustainable and climate-safe future, including a story of how Maria herself came to think about these issues and got engaged in politics, when she was the same age as our participants today.
Johanna Lakso, who was introduced to the students as “the mother of youth climate movement in Sweden”, discussed youth climate action in Sweden and how young people can change the world. She also discussed different aspects of sustainability and what this notion might mean and contain.
In the afternoon, we visited House of Europe which hosts European Parliament’s and European Commission’s representation in Sweden. During the study visit to the House of Europe the students got to discuss the EU and its workings. The students asked many questions about the on-going political debate on climate and energy legislation in the EU, what it means for Sweden to be a member of the union and whether the country would be better off outside of the EU.
So, since this is “the end of the world as we know it”, the question remains: how will we, as a generation coming of age in these challenging times, change the world? This is something we are going to explore, discuss, and present in the next two days of “Young Ideas for Europe”.