9.1 General context
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Article 2 of the Flemish Decree of 18 July 2008 to promote sustainable development defines sustainable development as
“a development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, paying attention to the integration of and synergy between the social, environmental and economic dimensions, and whose realisation requires a process of change in which the use of resources, the destination of investments, the targeting of technological development and institutional changes are adapted to both future and present needs”
This definition is the guiding principle for everything which has to do with sustainable development in Flanders.
In the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan 2020-2024 one of the five priorities is ‘healthy and liveable neighbourhoods’. By choosing this priority, the Government of Flanders is assuming the commitment that children and young people should be able to live and grow up in healthy and liveable neighbourhoods. Through targeted actions, this priority seeks to shape the involvement of children and young people in their living environment and neighbourhood and in the environment and climate.
Youth representatives and the Flemish Youth Council
One of the aims of the Flemish Youth Council is to represent young people and youth work at national and international forums. By doing so, the Flemish Youth Council sends UN youth representatives to various (inter)national forums. The Flemish Youth Council has one UN youth representative for sustainable development. This representative can participate in important sustainability summits such as the High Level Political Forum or the Conference of the Parties (COP). Together with the UN youth representative of the French Youth Council, this youth representative can contribute to the discussions around sustainable development and the implementation of Agenda2030: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustainable development and green patterns of consumption and production
The process for drawing up the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan 2020-2024 completed several participatory stages. In April 2019, the ‘Great Priorities Debate’ (Groteprioriteitendebat) took place which was based on an extensive environmental analysis (omgevingsanalyse). This analysis provides an overview of trends, figures, research and the voice of children, youngsters and experts. During this debate, the various policy areas of the Flemish government, experts, young people and actors from civil society and from local governments discussed the major challenges that children and young people lay awake of, and that need to be addressed in the coming years. The environmental analysis mentioned – amongst others – the topic ‘climate and air pollution’.
93% of young people themselves want to do something about global warming: use energy more sparingly, recycle more or use public transport more often. The sharing of goods purchased together is also central here. 60% of the young people in the dream team-survey finds that a system of borrowing or sharing goods can ensure that we can maintain our current standard of living. A quarter of young people do not believe in this. Rather than consuming less, young people mainly want consumption to be different in the future. For example, more than half of the young people (51.9% - dream team) say that by 2020 they will only be able to use fair trade products and buy organic. 53.7% even hope that by then there will only be sustainable products to be found. Young people are certainly also looking to the government to raise awareness among citizens and to encourage business to have greater respect for the environment. For example, 70% of the young people in the teens-survey believe that by 2020 our energy should only come from environmentally friendly suppliers. Young people mainly mention green energy and energy efficiency, they also ask for more green areas, attention for bikers and public transport. Young people want to move around independently: public transport should be affordable, child-friendly, eco-friendly and accessible.
Entrepreneurship, employment, education or volunteering opportunities with regions outside Europe
The results of the survey of Youth Pact 2020 mention that one third of young people want to work or study abroad, particularly if it adds value to their job or their training, if it is for a good cause or if they can travel together with someone familiar.
Young people who are not going abroad are afraid to miss their family and friends. Learning another language is no threshold.