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Awareness – How Do we See Sustainability?

Youth NGO’s Footprint in Environmental Developments


By Kadri Kalle By Olga Daskali

In order to integrate sustainability aspects into ac- The attitudes and behaviour towards sustainability are described with two charts: There is a significant majority that still questions the Aggelos Tolkas, member of the Greek Parliament, former
tions, it is also crucial to understand how it is per- value of active citizenship and the impact it has on President of AEGEE-Thessaloniki admits that “civil so-
ceived, how aware people are of it. It is also important what respondents think what respondents current developments. People question themselves, ciety succeeded in highlighting issues that the conven-
to understand that “awareness” does not only mean SHOULD BE DONE ARE DOING themselves doubting and debating that big changes cannot be tional political power had not taken into consideration.
getting more info or gaining knowledge. It is a complex made by a person or by a part of society. Undoubtedly, Nowadays, civil society’s proposals are under the mi-
system of human character, composed also of values Best ways to move towards Personal actions for sustainable big changes need the participation of vast majorities.
% % croscope, assuring the possibility of participation
and attitudes, which all together finally result in act- more sustainable life life Nevertheless 1+1=2 and not 0! in the political dialogue. Civil society’s presence
ing. While attitudes can be more easily influenced by, Education, raising 46,4 Recycling 32,1
Sustaining Our Future, AEGEE’s Flagship Project for may become dominant having transparency
for example, media, then values take time to change, awareness
Transport (walking, less flying, 25,7 2008–2009, placed its bet on active citizenship. One of and representativeness as characteristics.
through lifestyle and long-term education. Governmental actions 28,6 no car) the objectives was to raise awareness and activate Euro- The issue of Environment is a bright ex-
As part of the Sustaining our Future project and a Better resource use 20,7 Saving energy 26,4 pean Youth on environmental issues. Internally, AEGEE ample of civil society’s presence not only in
Master thesis, there was survey made among AEGEE wonders: Did SuFu have an impact? Externally, AEGEE Greece but in whole Europe.”
Changing your own lifestyle 20 Volunteer work 24,3
members, how they see sustainable development, as wonders: What is the added value of youth’s initia-
a concept, as activities in society and as part of their Activities by companies 7,9 Smarter consumption 20,7 He also adds that “Youth NGOs commit themselves to a crucial role of
tives?
everyday life. The final amount of respondents was Creating equal 5,7 Self-development 18,6 representation of young people’s minds and they fill the gap of missing
140 members of AEGEE, who replied to 27 questions, opportunities SuFu activated a team of 15 young Europeans to cooper- policies. I can give a vicarious example. Today, in the Parliament I come
Saving water 8,6 ate, exchange ideas and develop a project. They decided
from the definition of sustainable development to across several issues that we were discussing roughly some years ago in
consumer decisions. The survey was conducted on- Less packages 7,9 what actions should be included and how these may be-
AEGEE. Not only NGO’s influence exists, but the discussion proceeds in
line in Sept–Dec 2008. What sometimes seems to be the Ecological or local food, fair trade 5,7 come true. These 15 Europeans in an association of more
than 10 000 members had the possibility to involve and
Youth (NGOs).”
weaker part in understanding sus- Supporting thematic NGOs, 4,3
On a general level, AEGEE members know what tainability are the inter-connections activate approximately 1000 people in organising or par- When it comes to the added value of Youth Initiatives and more con-
sustainable development stands for – taking into foundations
and background of different aspects. ticipating in an activity. cretely of Youth NGO’s, the answer comes from real practice. It is the
account future generations and making long term Many of the respondents don’t think
One person cannot change 2,9
Youth that point out the need for change; it is the Youth that evolves
plans. The differences between people are in values anything The best practice for significant results is: Spread the
about the conditions, under which rumour! Take a moment and think how many times you the society; it is the Youth that sustains the future.
– which parts of sustainability are considered more the products they consume were
important. There are both those, who believe econo- have discussed with your family and friends the weird
made, yet the “the story behind in terms of engaging people into sus- weather conditions and the lack of seasons. Think how
my to be the base of everything and those who value stuff” plays a big role in sustainable
the balance of nature. tainable development issues can be many times you felt relaxed at the sea, or enjoyed a walk
development. seen here. in a park. Nowadays we have all this information and “New era of sustainability
As for getting the necessary infor- valuable technology; it is in our hands to use it for our is being organised from
There is one clear signal from the re-
mation, NGOs are seen as most reli- sake and our environments’ sake. Changing the habits
How to move towards a more sustainable life? sults of the survey: AEGEE members
in a small community can make more communities to the bottom up.”
able sources. believe that people can be educated
Suggestions from a respondent: follow. This is the bet on Youth; to activate as much as Paul Hawken,
A challenge and opportunity for gov- to change and create a more sustain-
• higher education for free, possible, to reveal the advantages of an active citizen environmental expert
ernments and formal education sys- able future. And with a little encour-
in comparison to a passive follower. Environment’s
• tax allowance for people involved in the third sector, tem to cooperate more with NGOs agement, we are also willing to change
enemies are greediness and only pursuing profit. Eco-
• grants for independent press, ourselves.
nomic science is capable of being environmentally
• cooperation between local powers,
friendly only if political will gives the green light!
• business and communities about environment protection

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