Before Coronavirus hit Europe and the entire world, we had the opportunity to continue the one-year #EcoFighers program with another regional advocacy seminar on the topic of environmental sustainability. #EcoFighters program is financially supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and aims at promoting a culture of environmental awareness and activism in the context of school students and apprentices organisations, through democratic participation of young people in various ways, platforms and levels. Throughout the year OBESSU will concentrate its action towards environmental sustainability, allowing member organisation to analyse the problems and activate personalised solutions for the issues faced in their countries. 

The first Regional Advocacy Seminar took place in February in the lovely city of Copenhagen. We followed the map of Europe from north to south and organised the second Regional Advocacy Seminar in Istanbul, Turkey, between the 7th and 12th of March 2020. 

The second milestone of #EcoFighters, gathered participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina (ASuBiH), Kosovo (KYC), Republic of Moldova (UEM), Romania (CNE), Slovenia (DOS) and Spain(CANAE), all embarked on a four-days pedagogical journey. During the event, the 8 participants had the chance to exchange both personal and organisational realities, to explore together the differences and commonalities when it comes to the school student unions approach of what we can call ”environmental issues” and to maximise their capacity for a lively dialogue with stakeholders and decision-makers. An important part of the journey was the one dedicated to consolidation of internal policies of the organisations, more specifically on how to become eco-friendly. Therefore, they discovered that some of them are really involved in tackling the problem and implemented concrete actions, such as less plastic (to none) to all their events, and others were planning on reaching such objectives in the near future.

Blazhe Josifovski from Ajde Makedonija (Let’s do it, Macedonia!), an organisation that works on changing people's attitude towards the environment, and towards the creation of a sustainable waste management system through education, awareness raising campaigns and activities, joined us on the seminar. He has embarked to help us achieve a more complex and real picture of the climate crisis across Europe. More than that, he shared with the participants his previous experiences that he had on advocating for issues, such as food waste, in his country, North Macedonia, and the set-up in which these problems could be confronted in the participants’ countries, within the school students union context. 

Both speaking from the organisation’s perspective but also from a personal perspective, the participants gathered ideas and commitments to be implemented or at least discussed in the following months back home. These plans include less plastic use, focus on sustainability within the school students union year work-plan, engaging in influencing political agendas and the creation of a set of dissemination instruments that they could use at the organisational level and, of course, to be day-by-day an active contributor to a more eco-friendly world!

We are happy that we could gather in total safety and we are waiting the coronavirus to be gone, so that the program could go on as planned with the last regional advocacy seminar for the Central and Western Europe, the Summer School following in July and wrapping-up the whole process by creating meaningful activities during the impact week in autumn. 

Written by Marian Ignat, member of #Ecofighters coordination team, and Adrian Barbaroș, Board Member of OBESSU.