Democracy and participation, Environment and sustainability

LENS

Local empowerment for national sustainability

Creators

Who is behind this?

Katarina Zakelj

CIPRA Slovenia

https://www.cipra.org/sl/cipra/slovenija

Slovenia

Who is joining forces?

Scout Association of Slovenia

https://www.taborniki.si/

Slovenia


Idea

Idea pitch

Real sustainability urges democratic response from young people. Scout Association of Slovenia will issue a “Local Sustainability Challenge” for local units, selected will receive further civic education and mentoring.
They will work closely with the local community, develop a sustainability proposal. Before 2021 local elections, scouts and locals will meet their political candidates, make suggestions for local solutions and sign a commitment to further sustainable development at local level.

Where will your project idea take place?

Alpine region, selected by a “Local Sustainability Challenge” for Slovenian local scout units.

What is the local challenge?

The Alpine Convention area is marked by depopulation, an ageing population, high tourism and transport pressure; recently even tightening the requirements for NGOs and thus for civil society in environmental impact assessment procedures. In view of the post-COVID19 crisis, legislation is being amended to allow investors to build large unsustainable infrastructure projects practically still without valid permits.
Many young people understand the urgency of implementing sustainable solutions, but they lack the knowledge of democratic mechanisms to voice their concerns, shape local initiatives and launch meaningful actions. By empowering and connecting them with other citizens in their local environment, we can use the momentum to bring about lasting change and broader societal benefits.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

Vibrant, inclusive local political realities form a healthy backbone of a wider democracy. Empowered, engaged young people will provide fresh air to local realities, foster dialogue and bring about change by communities themselves.
Scouts are strongly rooted in their local environment, standing for civic cohesion, solidarity, environmental justice and sustainable solutions. They want to respond constructively to pressing political issues, but they lack the skills for it. Since they are not tied with political parties, but have an organised network, they have the opportunity to go deeper into their respective environment. By developing a proposal for sustainable project/petition, emerging from their local communities, they can set a good example to other groups of young citizens.

Who are you doing it for?

Our primary target group are young scouts (15-30 yrs), wanting to give informed, democratic response to threatened sustainability. They will get empowered, reach out to smaller communities, where direct dialog is still possible, but where democratic principles not practiced (voter turnout in local elections is as low as 30 %).
Scouts are welcome in their local communities, able to give voice to under-represented people by addressing them directly, thus encouraging wider local participation.
Local communities will be empowered by having their own advocates for community-based development. As local elections will be held in 2021, scouts’ proposals for sustainable local solutions will receive more publicity, reach the national level, inspire other local communities to take similar action.

How do you plan to get there?

- Call for Scout units (LSC), media campaign: present local sustainability challenge, work done, open issues
- Selection of the units: partners and mentors will select 3-4 groups with biggest potential for impact in their local environment
- Meeting mentors, education, empowerment: intense weekend meetings with all participants, individual meetings at local level, individual counselling
- Further research of local issue, working together with local community (content analysis)
- Debates with mentor and local supporters, working on the initiatives (secondary analysis, interviews)
- Presenting the baseline in local environment, shaping the initiatives
- Meeting of scouts, locals and local political candidates, signing commitment, media promotion
- Spreading results.

What are the expected results?

In one year from today, we will have more than 100 empowered and motivated young people with a roadmap, successfully addressing local challenges, with established connections with experienced individuals, who are recognized as active and trustworthy in their communities. They will meet their local political candidates and sign a commitment with them.
They will connect with other local units, which also will be able to respond to social challenges with targeted and informed action. Local communities will be empowered by having their own advocates for community-based (sustainable) development.
On a larger scale, other scout groups will receive a clear example that small steps towards change are possible, and that they can try same approach in their local units.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Resilient communities, capable of open, respectful discussion and finding inclusive solutions, will provide the necessary backbone for future European democracy. A vibrant democracy at local-level can only be possible if as many citizens as possible are involved in shaping it. Successful participation is not achieved by a mere right to participate, but with acquiring the necessary skills to practice it actively. Technological progress has shown incredible benefits, but it can help to spread misinformation and increase the feeling of detachment from the community. By encouraging active presence in local reality, direct communication and open debate, we will strengthen communities. We expect broader participation in local affairs, which will also lead to higher turnout in local elections.

What is your story?

Working with the young people had shown us that they clearly understand the urgent need for sustainable solutions, that they want to get involved in society and help shape it, but their enthusiasm often burns out quickly, as they usually act impulsively, without gaining broader support for their efforts from local environment. On the other hand, there is great participation fatigue among older, experienced local actors. By combining impulses, knowledge and experience, we can create new conditions for an active, bottom-up democracy.
Young people must demand a future worth living for themselves and not passively trust that it will be offered to them. By learning the principles of democratic decision-making, they’ll be empowered to become active, not disgruntled citizens.

€ 49280,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 55000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Personnel costs - 19.000 EUR
Mentorship (4 persons, 9 months) - 10.750
Communication and dissemination - 10.050 EUR
Organisation of events - 3.700 EUR
Travel costs - 3.000 EUR
Unexpected costs: 3.000

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

If others have already tried similar approaches to empower young people by educating them and involving local environment, we’ll be happy to hear their experiences.

Team

CIPRA Slovenija

Scout Association of Slovenia

Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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