YouthLabs are participatory activities (online / offline format) to involve YOUNG Europeans in the design process of our pan-European campaign strategy.

MIJARC Europe is responsible for organizing, within its network, 3 National Level YouthLabs and 5 International Level YouthLabs.

The first national youth lab of our #GoEAThical project was carried out in online format, in Romania together, with our member organization Asociația Asistență și Programe pentru Dezvoltare Durabilă – Agenda 21.

The activity took place in online format on the 5th of June 2020. It lasted around three hours.

42 young people, were selected among the network of global education schools of APSD-Agenda 21. They worked together with Mr. Daniel Alexandru – head of the Laboratory on Agrometeorology– from the Romania National Institute of Meteorology, and our colleague Florina Potîrniche as facilitator.

Using the SEE-JUDGE-ACT methodology, participants were able to go through different questions such as: What is climate change? // Is Earth’s Climate Changing? // What Is Causing Earth’s Climate to Change? // What Might Happen to Earth’s Climate? // How does it affect the production of food? // Conventional agriculture vs. Organic agriculture?

Later on, after summarizing the discussion and highlighting the interconnection of food production and climate change and the main impacts climate change has on different parts of the world, the participants analysed a case study, which was based on real facts –The impact of the El Niño drought in 2016 on one family in Lesotho

Through this case, participants were able to see how climate change affects the normal weather and climate patterns. The result was a severe drought that lasted since 2015 until 2016. This led to food supplies constantly decreasing, the price of food increasing and ultimately the poorest population not able to ensure they daily food. This led to poverty, hunger, the urgent need for humanitarian support and massive migration.

All the young participants could reflect on the negative impacts of climate change, and in different groups, they went into the ACT part. Divided in breakout rooms of 4-5 people they went through an exercise to design some elements for the #GoEAThical campaign. The youth participants participants discussed and created different proposals of messages for the campaign, topics for the campaign, as well as different activities to be carried out.

They produced really interesting ideas!

Here you can read some of the comments from the young participants gathered during the evaluation:

 I really liked that I interacted and came up with many different ideas. I learned new things about climate change and what we can do to make it better

I liked this lab because I learned a lot of new things. The most useful thing I found out is the connection between climate change and migration

Participating in this laboratory helped me to become more aware of why it is important for each of us to have a responsible attitude towards the environment and what are the consequences of reckless long-term actions on the climate and especially food production. Change begins with each of us!

Change for the better and  feel good about it”

“He leaves his city job to become a market gardener”, “In Italy young people are returning to agriculture”, “Goat rearing, a popular activity for young people undergoing vocational retraining”… You’re bound to come across these kinds of titles in the media as they’re becoming more and more common. 

What motivates Europe’s youth, both rural and urban, to turn to agriculture? And above all, why is it actually good news?

Agriculture in need of youth

When studying the agricultural situation in each of the EU countries, two observations stand out: the agricultural population is ageing (in 2016, 60% of farmers were aged 55 or over) and the number of farms is declining prodigiously (a reduction of a quarter of farms between 2005 and 2016). In France, the Ministry of Agriculture has even announced that by 2026, 45% of French farmers will have retired.

Under these conditions, aid for the installation of young farmers has become a priority for the European Commission in the negotiations for the CAP, which will come into force in 2022. The future CAP includes provisions such as raising the ceiling for installation aid from EUR 70,000 to EUR 100,000. Income support, but also measures facilitating access to land and land transfers are among the main instruments to help young farmers.

Agricultural settlement as vocational retraining for young people

Yet, despite this rather dark picture we are painting, and despite the urbanization that frames the landscapes, we observe a growing return of young people to the land. Many are returning to rural areas, and many are also leaving their jobs to work in agriculture.

It is easy to draw up a typical profile of these young people: often around 30 years old, over-qualified, they have been working for a few years in an office job in which they do not flourish. Many of them are aware of the uselessness of the tasks entrusted to them in the context of their work (often in fields such as marketing or finance, among others). This is a phenomenon that anthropologist David Graeber describes perfectly in his essay Bullshit jobs: a theory, published in 2018.

Why should we encourage them?

This kind of conversion to farming, by young people with little or no experience in farming, sometimes annoys farmers. It is an understandable reaction: working the land, in all its science and complexity and especially its hard work, cannot be a playful activity to which one turns when tired of “city” jobs, thinking that it will only be a matter of breathing more fresh air and swapping one’s office for open spaces.

However, we would be wise not to make fun of these young people in retraining too quickly. While it is easy to point the finger at the ‘trendy’ aspect of this kind of retraining, it is way less easy to make the decision to abandon a comfortable lifestyle with a guaranteed salary and turn to farming, which, let’s be honest, is no longer an attractive job today.

It would be rather caricatural to paint a portrait of these young people as city dwellers in search of “connection with nature”, unaware of the difficulty of the work that awaits them. They are actually often fully aware of this, but they are driven by something much stronger: the desire to participate in this gigantic effort to feed the population. Above all, they belong to this new generation which carries ideals: a sustainable agriculture that would be more respectful of the environment and the health of farm workers and consumers, a willingness to innovate, to produce locally etc.

So as rural inhabitants, and even as farmers, let us encourage, support and guide them. We should help them in their learning and when they face the first difficulties, because these young people represent an unexpected succession at a time when agriculture is so much in need of support.

A testimony from a young peasant from France

 

Ten days ago was the International Peasants’ Rights Day, an occasion that MIJARC Europe took with ECVC to pay tribute to the peasants and to remind them why we are proud to support them.

But supporting farmers is not an action that needs a particular day in the year, especially as the theme of the year at MIJARC Europe is agriculture!

MIJARC Europe works for and with rural youth. So, in order to bring its own contribution, MIJARC decided to give a voice to young peasants and ask them to give us the reasons of their pride.

Here is the testimony of Louis, a 30 years old French winegrower:

“I’m proud to be a young peasant because…

I am proud to cultivate land in a sustainable way in order to maintain its agronomic potential for future generations. I am proud to have a systemic approach to the vine crop I grow. I am proud to use alternative pest control products with a view to respect the environment.

Being a peasant is being proud to generate an income from agriculture and to be able to provide work for others through our products. Being a young peasant also means not forgetting what others have done before you and respecting it.  It also means knowing how to move a production system forward.

Being a young peasant also means being proud to communicate about your profession, taking into account the social aspect of your professional environment. It also means being proud to produce healthy products that are accessible to the greatest number of people.”

 

You are also a young peasant, and proud to be one? We would be so happy if you would share your testimony with us! Send it to m.rousselotpailley@mijarc.net. 

On 14th March 2020, our member organisation Umbrella from Georgia organised the second local visit planned among the activities of MIJARC Europe’s annual work plan “Rock, Paper, Participation“. The work plan focuses on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Rock, paper, participation” annual work plan is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Umbrella gathered 13 of their young members and took them on a visit to Asureti Village and to Tetritskaro Youth Center. Firstly, they visited a farm and a greenhouses that belonged to the young farmer Gocha Apciauri, located in Asureti village. He presented his farm, the technologies he used and engaged he participants in an experiential learning activity inviting them to harvest vegetables. The discussion with the farmers focused on the challenges that he faced in his daily live as a farmer and the agricultural works.

The second half of the day was spent at Tetritskaro Youth Center, where the participants explored the “ladder of Participation”, the “triangle of cooperation”, worked in groups and used non-formal learning methods to identify challenges/barriers young people face if they want to get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies.

They based their work on the study on youth involvement in agriculture – the case of Georgia – published by MIJARC Europe especially for this visit and the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter)

Revised Charter

According to participants their involvement in agricultural policy at local level is extremely low. They were not aware of the possibilities and mechanisms of participation in decision-making process at local level. None of them had ever taken part in discussions on farming issue or had been invited to the local Sakrebulo (local legislative body) meetings. In addition to this, despite the fact that representatives of two local municipalities (Tetrsitskaro and Marneuli) were invited to the meeting, none of them sent representatives.

The young participants decided that the priorities they should focus on at local level should be:

  • Information – access to information is the top priority as quite often the information is on websites but it is not proactively published or spread in the municipality. It also considers the accessibility to internet as it is not developed in rural area.
  • Motivation – low level of motivation or nihilism among youth and non-responsive local authorities. The priority is to raise the level of motivation among young people.
  • Language barrier – in the communities with ethnic minorities (Armenians, Azerbaijanis) in some cases they face language barriers as they lack of knowledge of state language. Translation of information into native languages.
  • Political will – promoting (advocating) political will among local authorities and awareness about the positive sides of involvement of young farmers in agricultural policy development process.


Early April, about two weeks after the start of the quarantine measures taken all over the world, MIJARC Europe made the most of the fact that everybody was confined at home to launch its new social network campaign: Grow It Yourself.

The goal of this campaign: to offer a fun challenge, through the publication of photos on social networks, to encourage people to grow their own fruit and vegetables or herbs.

The aim, of course, is not to downplay the fantastic work done by farmers, nor is it to lead people to believe that everyone can become self-sufficient with a snap of the fingers. On the contrary, it is precisely because the theme of the year for MIJARC Europe is agriculture, that the Agri-Commission wanted to highlight one of the key elements of this subject, that is the food system, from the production of food to its arrival on our plates.

This is the reason why each post is associated with a caption or a link to an article that we publish on our website, in which we discuss topics related to these issues. These can be light-hearted topics such as tips on growing beans or a list of the easiest vegetables to grow, or even poems!

But we also try to think about more serious issues: what does the covid-19 crisis and its impact on the production, transport and sale of food say about our food system and our consumption habits? Why is it that by consuming locally, we are taking care of our health in addition to the environment? Why do we need to support young people who want to enter agriculture?

You can find our posts on our Facebook page or on our Instagram account. And above all, you can join us in this challenge! Grow yourself a tomato stand on your balcony and publish the picture by tagging MIJARC Europe. You can even send us texts about topics you would like us to talk about!

The Grow It Yourself Challenge is an experience we want to live with you!


On 7th March 2020, our member organisation Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia (FYCA), organised the first local visit planned within the activities of MIJARC Europe’s annual work plan “Rock, Paper, Participation“. The work plan focuses on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Rock, paper, participation” annual work plan is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

FYCA took the young participants to visit several agricultural farms in Nor Geghi (Kotayk province), Armenia.

The visits started with several meetings with local youth representatives and local & regional authorities. At first, the attendees discussed the current situation and existing challenges facing the youth in the region and explored the facts and issues raised by the study on youth involvement in agriculture done by MIJARC Europe.

Later, it was time to start the meetings with the farmers located in the region. The local visit to several agricultural farms in Armenia gathered 25 young volunteers and members from the organization, and also representatives from local and regional authorities from Kotayk province, Armenia.

Prior to the visit, the organization contacted the provincial administration representatives of Kotayk region through FYCA regional coordinator, Mari Hovakimyan. The visit was co-organized by the head of Nor Geghi community, Vardan Papyan and his administrative team.

The field visit started from “Green” intensive apple orchards, where farmers’ staff presented the basics of the fruit cultivation. The participants explored all the stages of producing apples: starting from the basic steps of orchard establishment and development to packing the ready-steady fruits for consumption. The apple orchards have been established in Nor Geghi community in 2016 and currently cover nearly 30 hectares, with the goal of expanding the area by 20 hectares in the nearest future. In addition to apple trees, pear, plum and cherry trees will also be planted there.

It is also interesting to know that the intensive orchards are harvested earlier than traditional orchards. In case of intensive orchards, up to ten times more seedlings are planted on 1 hectare of land. The farm grows a huge variety of apples and each of them is different in its own way.

Having explored the techniques and logistics of the production, it was time to carry out the second visit in the region. The next farm was a fishpond, belonging to “Ninel” LLC and providing employment opportunities to locals.

Afterwards, the team headed to the third well-known farm, “Lusakert” poultry factory. During the visit, the team got acquainted with the bird breeding conditions and technical equipment of the cultivation. As the factory staff informed, the chickens are kept in exclusively natural and ecological conditions, thus providing ecologically pure and nutritious products.

Revised Charter

The information gained during the visits were later on used to discuss about how young people could get involved in agricultural policies and firstly if they should get involved. The participants explored the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter) and its six step implementation model. The participants came to the conclusion that agricultural development is crucially important for developing rural areas. Hence, the strategies and policies promoting the development of rural areas are considered to be a high priority in the country.

In order to reach sustainable agricultural development, it is necessary to provide rural youth with sufficient access to knowledge and information, through incorporating agricultural skills in the education.
According to the discussions, it became obvious that youth’s involvement in policy dialogue is still an existing challenge in the country. Thus, young people need to have access to integrated trainings in agricultural sector and get coherent response from policy-makers and development practitioners so as to overcome those challenges.


Overall, the following conclusion was drawn in result of the local visit: agricultural development is an extremely important asset for fostering sustainable development of rural communities’ livelihood and increasing the standards of living in those areas.

Our common home is on fire.  The Amazon is burning and we cannot hold our breath until you finally take action. What is happening in the Amazon is affecting us all over the world. It is a global emergency.

Will you watch the fire or will you support us in doing something? In putting pressure on the institutions which are supposed to protect our home and ACT?

Will you help us prevent this from happening again?

This is about #EveryBreathWeTake.

Challenge 3 more people to take a deep breath to remind us about the precious natural resource which is on fire. We need to keep the fight for Climate Justice!

A campaign created by the participants of the international training course ”Let’s go online”, an activity co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

 

”Let our voice be heard” – an annual work plan co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.


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Between 2018 and 2021 MIJARC Europe is leading its work around three thematic focus points described in the Specific Objectives adopted by the General Assembly back in 2017. The work plan we run in 2019 addressed MIJARC Europe’s commitment to support citizenship and youth participation in rural development.

Through the work plan we run in 2019 we aimed to help rural young people in MIJARC Europe network and beyond feel that they have the right, the means and the skills to drive change at local level and to motive other stakeholders to support their ideas and create opportunities for youth participation together.

We wanted young people to feel that they know, they can, and they want to be involved, to be able to imagine the concrete, sequential steps towards achieving real impact and to identify how to determine local authorities to join their initiatives in order to see those changes they envision, happen in reality.

This aim was pursued through the following specific objectives:

O1: enable young people from rural areas to discriminate between self-imposed barriers to participation (their own perceptions, stereotypes and attitudes) and real barriers and find inspiration to identify solutions to both types of barriers;

O2: teach young people how to communicate with, involve and ask for support from local authorities and perceive them as partners rather than opponents;

O3: empower young people from rural areas to become competent and effective digital citizens;

O4: contribute to the implementation of the principles of the Revised Charter on participation of young people in local and regional life and to the dissemination of the “Have your say manual” to local public authorities and youth NGOs in at least 10 rural areas in Europe.

PHASES

The work plan included one local activity and two international activities, reinforced by follow- up activities at local level.

From February to April 2019, MIJARC Europe organized focus groups, called “local visits” in 9 different countries in Europe. Small groups of 10 to 20 people aged from 12 to 22 years old came together, sometimes also with representatives of local authorities, to discuss the topic of youth participation.

Questions like “what does youth participation mean?”, “what kind of youth participation does take place?”, “does real participation take place?”, “how young people are involved, do they have a real chance to participate and co-decide?” have been deeply discussed with the help of the manual “Have your Say”. The manual Have your Say is a tool of the Council of Europe for young people and local authorities to implement and use the Charter on youth participation in the local and regional life. The findings of the local visits were included in a report and illustrated in country fact sheets. The results of this small scale research were at the basis of the next two phases.

Report on the state of youth participation – local visits

Info graphics – country fact sheets

The second activity was an international seminar, which gathered 40 young people, for four full working days.  It had the role to bridge the results of the fieldwork done by MIJARC Europe during the local visits with the theoretical and practical aspects of the participation at local, national, regional and European lever by involving active members in a proactive learning process.

The seminar was designed and led based on the methods of non-formal education and relevant approaches using the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in local and regional life and the “Have your say” Manual. The successful implementation of the seminar resulted in a magazine of personal stories of participation written and drawn by the participants, the creation of vlogs and of three infographics.  The final evaluation results show that the seminar scored high in the hearts and minds of the participants. The percentage of those who believe that they got the basic theory, practical approaches and tools, to help them to build a culture of participation after the seminar is about 92%.

Digital magazine “My story of participation” 

Vlogs – https://www.youtube.com/user/MIJARCEurope/videos

Info-graphics 

 

The seminar was complemented by the third phase, an international training course on e- citizenship that offered additional tools and ideas to tackle the problems identified in the first phase. The training course aimed to bring the participants closer to e-participation. The participants were encouraged to build their own positions for different topics related to participation and e-participation and they had a possibility to present and discuss in a safe learning environment.

They had a possibility to address their comments and questions to Dirk Van Eeckhout, the Thematic Coordinator on Information Policy in the Council of Europe and Rita Jonusaite, part of the secretariat of the YFJ. That was a highly valuable experience that helped the participants to meet stakeholders, gain self-confidence and resilience breaking the present barriers. The participants worked together in intercultural subgroups in order to solve practical case studies through the e-participation tools they have discovered.

 

The most impressive result of the training course was the set up of an online campaign “Every Breath we take” the participants used to raise awareness on the fires in the Amazon and climate injustice. The campaign worked as a Facebook challenge in which young people were challenged to take a photo of themselves with their eyes closed, taking a deep breath along with the written message: “Our common home is on fire. The Amazon is burning. We cannot hold our breath until you finally take action. We need to act NOW!”. It also included four calls to action and messages inspired by the position papers of MIJARC Europe such as: “We demand national governments to take concrete actions to meet their commitments to the Paris agreement”. The campaign gathered more than 100 people who took a photo of themselves, posted the photo along with the message on their Facebook profile and challenged their friends

Every breath we take campaign

Training booklet on e-participation

Finally, each organization involved did a follow-up activity of their choice, involving a minimum number of 10 participants. The full list of follow-up activities can be seen here.

Follow-up activity in Bulgaria

Follow-up activity in Germany

Follow-up activity in Romania

The results of the work plan were also presented and promoted in our biannual magazine: MIJARC Explore.

logosbeneficaireserasmusleft_enBetween 4th – 8th September 2018, our member movement APSD-Agenda 21 is hosting a youth exchange on peace and conflict. The project is called “Messages from the future” and it is part of our annual work plan on 2018 “We are the others”. The youth exchange is co-financed by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union. It is organized as an international simulation on four different topics which affect peace and conflict at global level: climate change, migration, gender inequality and extremism.


The final day of our youth exchange brought to our attention the topic of extremism with the help of a very interesting game and many balloons. The team of facilitators adapted ”The Island” simulation from the All Different, All Equal Education Pack in order to show that differences should be first acknowledged and then accepted, that tolerance and adaptability are key skills and that diversity should be celebrated.

Split into two different tribes, both worshiping balloons the participants took their roles seriously and started looking for a very rare type of balloon which could only be found with a special map. Of course each tribe possessed only half of the map and only by coming together and mending the two halves could the tribes find the balloons. The negotiations were tough and the members of the tribes had to learn the other’s culture in order to be able to communicate with them.

In the debriefing part they talked about how important it had been to stay open and to adapt to the situation by learning the language of the other tribe, sharing their habits and not using violent methods. They discussed about culture, what makes it important and about what brings the cultures into conflict. They reflected on who gains and who loses from a conflict and about the negative and positive consequences of opening up towards other cultures.

Next, the tribes prepared the photo-messages with their most important conclusion.

The day ended with a long evaluation and follow-up session, in which the participants reflected on their learning, filled-in their youth passes and discovered what competences they had developed throughout the week. They also made plans for hosting the travelling exhibition and found out who their secret friend had been.

IMG_7904

logosbeneficaireserasmusleft_enBetween 4th – 8th September 2018, our member movement APSD-Agenda 21 is hosting a youth exchange on peace and conflict. The project is called “Messages from the future” and it is part of our annual work plan on 2018 “We are the others”. The youth exchange is co-financed by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union. It is organized as an international simulation on four different topics which affect peace and conflict at global level: climate change, migration, gender inequality and extremism.


Gender inequalities were at the core of the fourth day which brought participants face to face with some of the realities of the labour market and of domestic violence. After an energetic start of the morning, the participants watched a short movie about gender and split in four groups deciding on weather some adjectives described male or female features or positive and negative features. The activity was adapted from the “Gender Matters” manual and it introduced the participants into gender stereotyping.

Next, it was time for them to work and get paid. They were assigned a role with information about their sex, age and experience and they had to go through five work stations where they performed different tasks (arranging small balls on piles of the same colour, preparing bread dough or scoring with a basket ball). At the end of the game they made a long row and received their payment which, of course, took into account their performance but also their sex and their age. In the debriefing part, they discussed about the inequalities on the labour market between genders and how unjust the system is with huge pay gaps in some countries.

The next game brought them face to face with real cases of domestic violence of all types which they discussed in national groups and then presented their conclusion to the rest of the participants. The fact that they were split on national groups really helped with showing the different approaches the countries represented have towards gender violence, the laws that apply and the feeling of the community towards the victims and the perpetrators.

The day ended with the creation of the photo-messages which were very creative and provoking.