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Green transition means inclusion

Dernière mise à jour : 27 nov. 2022

Green & Inclusion seminar in Amersfoort, 15-18 nov. 2022

From 15 to 18 Nov., Agathe (EU projects collaborator at Vert d'Iris) and I had the opportunity to take part in a seminar organised by the SALTO-YOUTH, devoted to the topic of Green and Inclusion.

The seminar explored the field of green and inclusion and developed awareness about the lived realities of Young People With Fewer Opportunities (YPWFO) regarding green transitions and climate change. It explored how the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps Programmes can make a positive change for YPWFO, considering environment and climate action. The seminar took an intersectional approach on climate justice and sustainability, and questioned the mainstream perceptions of sustainable behaviour.

Who organised this seminar?

SALTO-YOUTH stands for Support, Advanced Learning and Training Opportunities for Youth.

As part of the European Commission's Training Strategy, SALTO-YOUTH provides non-formal learning resources for youth workers and youth leaders and organises training and contact-making activities to support organisations and National Agencies (NAs) within the frame of the European Commission's Erasmus+ Youth programme, the European Solidarity Corps, and beyond.

What was the purpose of this seminar?

Climate change triggers many initiatives but not so many involving the youth. What are the obstacles to this inclusion? How to ensure green projects do not leave young people aside? Triggered by these challenges, the seminar also responded to new EU priorities (Green Deal) and the interest of National Agencies. It aimed to connect workers and experts from the fields of inclusion and green activities in the EU Programmes. To this end, it explored the links between both fields and co-created the basis for more inclusion in the green transition and climate action.

Who attended the seminar?

About 50 participants gathered for the event, most of which have written a profile on this padlet. On top of the organisers, facilitators and rapporteurs (12 persons), participants came from:

  • organisations specifically active in sustainable development, not necessarily focused on inclusion, but willing to reach out to "less privileged" audience (persons at risk of being in a situation of exclusion for whatever reason).

  • organisations specifically active in social inclusion, not necessarily focused on "green" questions.

  • organisations active in both green issues and inclusion

Where did the seminar took place?

The venue was the Landgoed ISVW (Internationale School voor Wijsbegeerte) in Leusden, near Amersfoort, The Netherlands. Built on a historical school of philosophy, within a leafy nature reservation, the conference centre, driven by a social mission (to promote philosophy) offered participants a green and peaceful setting that was remarkably aligned with the seminar's topic.

What did the participants do?

The seminar consisted in a dense agenda of workshops intertwined with plenary sessions, guest talks, networking activities and open space, centered around how participants live the realities of green inclusion.

Recurrent prompters included the following questions:

  • What does social inclusion / exclusion mean to you?

  • What’s my experience in green inclusion?

  • How my organisation failed and succeeded in applying green inclusion, why?

  • What are the main barriers to green inclusion for my organisation?

  • What I/my organisation need to overcome these barriers and find solutions?

  • What ideas initiatives procedures could help overcome these barriers ? What EU programmes could I use?

  • What strengths and resource potential my organisation already might have for implementing green inclusion projects?

Conceptual exploration focused repeatedly on the power and privilege each of us can - or cannot - obtain from our identity. Identity being a mosaic defined by multiple factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, education, nationality, etc: each of which representing a factor of inclusion.

Intersectional approaches pay attention to multiple components of individual identity. They often aim to raise awareness about those aspects, through a range of initiatives such as dialogs, training, projects on anti-racism, anti-discrimination, self-determination, story-telling etc. Highlighting potential privileges derived from identity components (being white or black, for example) helps intersectional approaches understand the drivers of inclusion / exclusion.

Thematic work groups analysed the connection between ecology and inclusion. Does ecology have anything to do with social inclusion? Or is social Darwinism ecological after all? Are society and art necessarily socially excluding? Is ecology synonym of diversity? (...)

A consensus took rapidly shape around the recognition that ecology can hardly be disconnected from society, in the first place because the concept of ecology owes its very existence to its socially constructed nature. Education and economic status came up as core potential determinants of social exclusion from ecological sustainability. People with fewer cognitive and economic opportunities having more difficulties to grasp, and to react to, what is at stake with ecological balance and ecosystem services. Discussions therefore identified social exclusion (under its many forms) as a major ecological threat.

Anxiety belonged to the key topics addressed throughout the seminar. Climate anxiety, eco-anxiety, biophobia, appear to be growing fast in industrialised countries. This poses a threat to young people who more easily than elders can be tempted to evade anxiety by living increasingly in virtual worlds (gaming, online series, virtual realities and other addictive practices). While acknowledging that imaginary worlds have always helped nurture visions and perspectives among humans, a certain connection, or balance, should be kept between virtual and concrete realities.

Guest speaker Aart Bos (Global Leadership MasterPeace Foundation) reminded the audience about the importance to engage the non engaged, to create perspectives, to mobilise the youngsters.

This is where physical activities in nature, such as gardening, sporting, volunteering in farms, etc, have a important potential for mitigating anxiety and foster a sense of social belonging and purpose. Still, participants identified the lack of awareness (ignorance) as a key obstacle to engaging in physical and/or nature activities.

First insights and perspectives for Vert d'Iris

Training and inclusion have always been a structural part of our business model, in different ways. Yet, it is not always easy to articulate commercial production and social and ecological services such as education, landscape, ecological habitats, or hosting. For example, these services are not necessarily recognised and/or rewarded at the proper level.

Generally speaking, the green transition has little meaning if it doesn't cater for social inclusion, given the ecological interdependence in which humankind is embedded. Wherever still needed, it is urgent to reconcile environmental & socio-economic sustainability objectives, through better policy integration, and to reach out to, and engage, (young) people with fewer opportunities.

Green & inclusion appears like a couple that resonates pretty well with the activities carried out at Vert d'Iris, and the questions we face daily in our efforts to produce local quality food, to consolidate a space for popular education in food capacity, and to develop relevant competences (p. 19 ff).

In order to better create and recognise the new competences required by the on-going transition, Vert d'Iris is looking for further exchanges in this area with similar projects and endeavours.

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