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Youth at the heart of ECO Forum's participation in Ostrava

Reporting back on WHO’s regional conference on environment and health, where WECF (and its ECO Forum delegation of 23 youths and seniors) was to advocate for a healthy future

23.06.2017 |

Ivana Savich delivering an intervention on behalf of ECO Forum. Photo: © World Health Organisation

A week has already gone by since the WHO’s Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health was concluded and the Ostrava Declaration signed. WECF’s employees (from the International, Dutch and German office) were there to coordinate ECO Forum’s advocacy work and its youth volunteers.

Side event on children’s health

Greater understanding of life cycle health costs, risks, and costs of inaction are urgently needed in terms of children’s exposure to harmful chemicals. That’s why WECF invited participants from Albania, Romania, Macedonia and the Czech Republic to share experiences children's environmental health risks during a side event discussing various sources of exposure and best practices for moving forward. Read more about this side event here.

“Let us not forget that this process started with intention to protect children - they are often the first to show signs if there is a problem with our environment” said our General Director Sascha Gabizon while on the panel during plenary session 8 (on Strengthening and accelerating progress: from commitments at the Sixth Ministerial Conference towards better health, environment and sustainable development).

Committed to fruitful participation of youth

At WECF and in ECO Forum, we are committed to the active participation of youth. That’s why seventeen out of our delegation of twenty-three were youths. Even before travelling to Ostrava, our youth volunteers helped us draft recommendations on the Declaration, prepared our side events and drafted communication tools. At the conference they wrote and delivered interventions, and interviewed member state delegations about youth participation. On the final day of the conference Sascha gave up her time on the panel (where she had been invited to speak about civil society participation in the EEHP process) and let our youth volunteers give their input on the issue. They then had the chance to deliver the interventions which they had been unable to deliver the previous days due to lack of time during the plenaries. 

 Our ECO Forum interventions (video)

Youth's interviews

Our position paper

Campaigning for not wasting our future

During a two hour tweetathon (a tweet marathon on Twitter) our ECO Forum youth volunteers managed to reach over 108,000 people on Twitter with messages about gender and social dimensions of personal waste production. In their side event on the topic, our junior gender advisor Hanna Gunnarsson stated “We cannot wait for others to stop wasting our future; it is up to us now to not waste it”. The youth volunteers (from ECO Forum) were allotted a 25 min panel spot during a side event about industrial waste. During their panel discussion, they added a personal level to the dialogue on waste. First off they screened the collaborative film they had produced before coming to the conference (see below). Dimosthenis Sarigiannis, (University of Thessaloniki, Greece) spoke about circular economy. Miroslava Jopkova (Arnika, Czech Republic) emphasised the importance of not recycling harmful chemicals. While Miriam Müller (Social-Minders, Germany) offered a glance at a more sustainable future when discussing the importance of waste minimisation initiatives and the importance of investing in young social entrepreneurs who are leading the way in waste recycling.






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