The CBSS fosters active and meaningful youth participation and representation in institutions and decision-making processes in the Baltic Sea Region through intergenerational dialogue on topics affecting young people. The CBSS functions as a forum for policy dialogues and supports actors in aligning ongoing processes. Furthermore, the CBSS as an intergovernmental structure provides relevant educational resources for young people and decision makers to support the implementation of the Vilnius II Declaration and the CBSS Action Plan.
Young people and their interests are underrepresented in decision-making, and the Baltic Sea Region unfortunately is not an exception to this phenomenon. The CBSS connects young people, movements and youth structures in the member states and elevates their voices to decision-making bodies to ensure every generation is reflected in decisions affecting them.
As an intergovernmental organisation, the CBSS holds a unique position in facilitating an intergenerational dialogue in the Baltic Sea Region and connecting various organisations to support young people’s active citizenship and create a meaningful impact on decisions to foster sustainable and resilient societies.
The CBSS has been working with young people for decades. The topic of youth, youth participation and education has always been one of the priorities of the organisation.
In recent years the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue, established in 2014, and the Baltic Sea Youth Platform project, implemented between 2020 and 2022, have been important cornerstones to establish the Baltic Sea Region Youth Forum (BSRYF) in 2023.
The BSRYF has as its primary focus to support the implementation of the Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2030 – the Vilnius II Declaration. This can be achieved through meaningful youth participation in institutions and policymaking in the Baltic Sea Region.
The BSRYF is guided by the following aims:
- Create networking possibilities for youth organisations, initiatives, and individuals in the Baltic Sea Region to ensure a broad representation and impact of young people active in the region.
- Educate young people on decision-making in the Baltic Sea Region and decision makers on how meaningful and valuable youth participation is ensured.
- Convey opinions and facilitate communication on initiatives between young people and decision makers in the Baltic Sea Region.
Projects and activities
The CBSS engages in manyfold ways with young people, the Regional Identity unit focuses on the dialogue between decision makers and young people, while almost all CBSS units include young people in projects and other activities:
- Baltic Sea Region Youth Forum (BSRYF): The BSRYF is a youth-led body that represents the voices and interests of young people in the Baltic Sea Region. It specifically advocates for meaningful youth involvement in organisations and institutions while encouraging their active participation in policy-making.
- Baltic Sea Youth Working Groups: The CBSS coordinates the Baltic Sea Youth Working Groups on Advocacy, Culture and Security for young people to improve the political impact of youth on decision-making in the Baltic Sea Region.
- Baltic Sea Youth Platform (BSYP): The Baltic Sea Youth Platform was an Erasmus+ project led by the CBSS bringing together local, regional and national actors to enhance the coordination of youth mechanisms in the Baltic Sea Region.
- CBSS Youth Ministerial: The CBSS Youth Ministerial is co-organised by the CBSS Secretariat and the presidency to elevate youth voices to the CBSS ministerial meeting.
- Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue (BSYD): The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue is a one-week in-depth seminar bringing together young and established experts on a specific and timely topic relevant to macro-regional cooperation.
- Baltic Sea Youth Camp (BSYC): The Baltic Sea Youth Camp is organised as a prelude to the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Annual Forum. Various youth formats are cooperating to update the Baltic Sea Youth Declaration presented to all stakeholders of the EUSBSR.
- Baltic Sea Parliamentary Youth Forum (BSPYF): The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Youth Forum enables young people to participate actively in the Annual Conference of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) and share their views in a common policy recommendation paper.
- Child and Youth Advisory Board on child trafficking (CYAB – TRM): The Child and Youth Advisory Board on child trafficking was established to support the implementation of the BSR Transnational referral mechanisms for victims of trafficking and bring in a youth perspective.
- Baltic Sea Region Hackathon: The Baltic Sea Region Hackathon brings together young programmers interested in strengthening the BSR democracies and supporting them with digital solutions.
Activities of the Regional Identity unit also include guidance for stakeholders of the EUSBSR on meaningful youth participation and connecting Baltic Sea Region youth activities with ongoing national and EU processes.
EUSBSR youth input
The CBSS coordinates the youth representation horizontally among the Policy Areas of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Resources for both decision makers and young people are provided to build capacities among the relevant stakeholder groups.
The Baltic Sea Youth Declaration was updated annually starting in 2019 and provides the views of young people on the priorities the policy makers should take into consideration when implementing the EUSBSR.
With the support of Policy Area Culture, the CBSS coordinates the BSY Working Group Culture and in collaboration with Policy Area Secure the CBSS coordinates the BSY Working Group Security. Other Policy Areas are supported by providing youth speakers, inviting young people to events and participating in project events.
Collaboration with the European Commission
The CBSS cooperates closely with the European Commission to ensure the macro-regional youth activities are in line with activities on the European level. The EU is an official member of the CBSS and hence alignment of processes and utilizing synergies is key to strengthen youth participation.
The CBSS participates in regular meetings with DG REGIO to exchange knowledge with youth structures in other EU macro-regions. The CBSS also took on the role of representing the EUSBSR youth structures and participates in events related to the implementation of funding mechanisms.
Collaboration with CBSS sister councils
The CBSS is liaising with the youth structures of all four councils of the north. Through the regular exchange, approximately 4 times a year the CBSS and its sister councils ensure that synergies are utilised and resources are efficiently used while avoiding duplications between the formats. Check out the youth initiatives of the four councils of the north: Arctic Council, Barents Euro Arctic Council, Nordic Council of Ministers.
- Baltic Sea Youth Declaration 2019, 2020, and 2022
- Youth Vision Statement Beyond 2030
- Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue 2020 and 2022
- BSPC youth recommendations 2021, 2022 and 2023
- Bornholm Declaration
- Vilnius II Declaration
- Kristiansand Declaration
Project partners are mentioned in the specific activities and project tabs. You can become a partner or member of the BSRYF by signing up here.
Facts & Figures
- The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue was first organised in 2014, and since then more than 150 young people from the Baltic Sea Region and beyond have taken part in workshops, discussing identity, culture and history.
- The Baltic Sea Youth Platform was an idea that sprung out of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue in 2018 and was further developed at the Baltic Sea Youth Camp in 2019. It is breaking ground through being a coordinated and youth led effort to increase the involvement of young people in Baltic Sea Region politics.
- The Baltic Sea Youth Decalaration presented at the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Annual Forum in Lapppeenranta in 2022 was developed through contributions of more than 200 young people in various formats the CBSS (co-)organised.