The Baltic Sea Youth Declaration 2022, which contains 199 concrete recommendations from young people for improving the state of the Baltic Sea Region, was presented during the EUSBSR Annual Forum 2022, a key policy making event that attracted close to 500 regional policymakers, including the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto.
“When it comes to policy making, young people in the region are a resource that we haven’t used enough yet,” said Aline Mayr, the CBSS official overseeing youth matters, adding that they “come up with bold ideas and fresh impulses, especially regarding the implementation of policies and putting plans into action.”
A collaborative effort gathering the views of over 200 young people and representatives of youth networks operating in the Baltic Sea Region, the declaration notably contains recommendations and new impulses for implementing the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), the EU’s oldest macro-regional strategy.
The declaration particularly highlights the need for increasing youth participation in the development of policies, including their planning, implementation and evaluation. It also calls for the allocation of dedicated resources for facilitating the inclusion of young people in regional policy work.
A follow-up of the declarations from 2019 and 2020 on which it builds, the Baltic Sea Youth Declaration 2022 also contains inputs from the Baltic Sea Youth Camp 2022 and the Baltic Sea Youth Platform. A summary for policy makers of the new declaration is also available.
Linked to the European Year of Youth 2022, the youth declaration also includes recommendations on meaningful youth participation in regional policy making. Its development was supported by the Erasmus+ programme, the Youth4Cooperation initiative, the City of Lappeenranta and the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS).
The declaration is part of a wider effort by the CBSS to give a stronger voice to youth in the region. Institutionalising its work on youth, the CBSS has recently established the Baltic Sea Region Youth Forum, which will officially start in January 2023.
The new forum will notably support the implementation of the “Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2030” as contained in the CBSS’s Vilnius II Declaration, where the CBSS member states have agreed that “young people participate and are represented in a meaningful way in institutions and decision-making processes giving impetus to efforts to reach a more resilient, gender equal and safe Region.”