Welcome to UNDER 30, the podcast series by the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership that brings research results, explores trends in young people's lives and themes relevant for youth policy and practice.
The EU-CoE youth partnership is a co-operation programme between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth, created in 1998, connecting youth research, policy and practice.
Lana: Welcome to Under 30 the podcast of the Youth Partnership.
Today we are speaking about sustainability within the context of learning mobility.
And today with us, we have Manfred and Georgia who have been working
on this topic for several years now, within different context.
And as all of us in the youth sector have been concerned about the questions of sustainability but also very passionate
about learning mobility activities and all the value in education that that brings to young people across Europe.
So I will start first by inviting both Georgia and Manfred to introduce themselves and say a little
bit about what you do and how you're connected with the work on sustainability and learning mobility.
Manfred: Thank you very much Lana and thank you for having me in, in this round.
I'm Manfred Von Hebel.
I'm working for the German National Agency for European Youth
Programs, Erasmus Plus Youth and European Solidarity Corps.
And of course climate change, environmental protection have been a big issue in the program in many,
many projects all throughout the recent years, and it has even increased now with the importance of
the issue in society and globally of course, but also now because with the new program generation
since 2021, we also have climate change, environmental protection, sustainability as a program priority.
And this is really also something very feasible in the program.
It has increased still the interest and the implementation and the application of projects with this
issue . And one last thing maybe, together with EPLM and many, many very committed stakeholders we were
carrying out a conference at the beginning of this year in Bavaria on this issue where we also saw how big
the community is of people who are committed in this field and have enormous expertise and experience.
So that was a great thing to see how we can bring learning mobility, as you
said, also together with aspects of climate change and environmental protection.
Giorgia: Thank you.
Thank you, Lana.
Yes my name is Georgia Verna.
I am a young journalist from Italy and I'm part of the European Pool of Young Journalists, and so I came across
to the EPLM conference this year, basically because I was one of the journalists who had to cover this event, not
only with videos and also photos, but also with articles and interviews, and it was very challenging to talk with
a lot of people and know a lot about not only learning mobility, but also how it is connected to sustainability.
And this is why I was so happy to not only meet all these people, but also
have the possibility and the chance to write about it and know more about it.
Lana: Manfred already mentioned the EPLM Conference, which was held in in
February and March in Munich and it was hosted by the German National Agency.
And this is where really this questions of sustainability, climate change and learning mobility came together.
We know that at the institutional level, at the policy level this has become a priority
for the EU, for the Council of Europe, now also following the Reykjavik Declaration.
And also learning mobility has been given a boost after the Covid pandemic,
particularly trying to see how do we restart the learning mobility and how do we make
sure that more young people have opportunities to participate in these activities.
But sometimes we have this question, what is the connection between the two?
Because learning mobility in itself involves a lot of travel, and it is sometimes an activity that may be
seen as contradictory to sustainability and to sustainable approaches to education and training and traveling.
So, after the conference, but also from your work on this question, what would you say is the link between the two?
And how can we also overcome this apparent dilemma between the two concepts?
Manfred: It's indeed the dilemma , as you said, and you put that very nicely
already that you said how, how can we connect it and not make it a contradiction?
I think that is really the, the big challenge.
So we have, on one hand the, the urge and also I would say the need for learning mobility in a cross-border way.
We see that very clearly now.
We were of course worried we had a strong impact of the pandemic on mobility within the youth programs.
We had really low application numbers, but now this year we really see that the wheel is turning
again, and that the request is really raising enormously that we really have a lot of applications.
And as I said, within this applications, we also have a lot of projects that deal with exactly this question.
How can we make learning mobility more sustainable?
What do we have to keep in mind?
I think for learning mobility programs, if we want to make a distinction to other for forms of mobility or tourism
we at least have a chance to set a project that make sustain mobility, to be in the terms of the conference also,
an issue of the project so that, that we can use the learning within one mobility project also to raise awareness to
change the project as such, to think about the location that you choose, the means of transportation that you choose.
Maybe also the way of catering.
So there's a lot of things that you can tackle through your mobility, so that learning really
takes place and maybe changes also the awareness of young people and also the consciousness
for their own mobility, not only within the project, but also maybe beyond the project.
Giorgia: I completely agree with Manfred, and I think one of the main most important thing to keep in
mind is exactly the fact that sustainability as a definition we always try to put it in the framework
of eco bio sustainability, but as we have learned from the conference, me especially, I have learned
that there are more and more examples of sustainability, the social one, and also the economical one,
as was explaining also Manfred, that we have learned it also through the pandemic . And I think, in my
experience of learning mobility, I've made some Erasmus projects and I've made also a double degree abroad
in Brussels . And one thing that it's very uncommon to think about is exactly the social sustainability.
To keep in mind also during the learning mobility, to be able to include everyone and
to be able to put all the same opportunities to every student that want to go abroad.
When we go abroad, also when we do a conference like this and have the possibility to
talk about sustainability, learning, mobility and all these kind of issues, we are a
specific category of people that can do that and have the economical opportunity to do so.
But one way to be sustainable in the learning mobility is exactly to try to have the same opportunities for everyone.
And I think we should start also from small things.
I have met an amazing student during the EPLM conference.
He was, he was coming from France and he said that he started to learn a lot of languages just to have the
possibility to talk with all the people, as many people as he can, and also he learnt the sign language to talk
with other students and try to be as inclusive as possible because his thought was I want to be part of it.
I want to include these people in the conversation.
I want to know about their story, and I need to destroy the barriers that we have between each other.
And so one way also is not only from the eco point of view, as Manfred was
saying, maybe trying to understand how you go from one place to another.
So trying to avoid the planes and all this kind of stuff , but also trying
to figure all the aspects of sustainability to be as sustainable as possible
Dariusz: Thank you for touching upon this point, because I think that whenever we take on
board the concept of sustainability, there is this tendency only to focus on environment.
No, there is talking about traveling, talking about how many people
should go and where we should live, what should we eat, and so on.
And there's different aspects of social and and economic sustainability.
They kind of rarely show, at least from what I see and what I follow.
If we can explain a little bit about what it means, this social and economic sustainability,
this will be maybe good for our listeners to understand what we are talking about.
And also since we know as well when it comes to especially the
environmental sustainability, that there are a lot of dilemmas.
Manfred already mentioned some and you Georgia.
What are the other dilemmas especially related to social and economic sustainability?
If we can have a little bit of discussion about that, that would be great.
Manfred: That was, that was a very strong also a personal learning experience in the EPLM conference.
And I was very happy to see that, that we were of course from our perspective of
national agencies and being in charge of such a big program we had very much this,
this mobility focus like how can we move people and which incentives can we give?
And the conference turned that very much as for me into this really social dimension.
And I learned that we really have to take care and be very aware of that sustainability is not cheap
and it's not for free, and we really have to work for it, and we really have to include people into it.
So, first of all what does it mean when you live in a more environmental way?
When you are more climate conscious?
It means that your life becomes more expensive maybe.
Because you eat other food, you have to buy organic food, or you want to buy organic food.
So that is, that is not not possible for a lot of people who can just not afford to buy very costly things.
So they have to come back to cheap offers of cheap food.
Or maybe also when it comes to meat, we see when we go to supermarkets,
how cheap meat is, at least I see that very often in German supermarkets.
So, and how these things are connected and how we can also use our learning programs to make people more aware
of this and also think about solutions on how to be more conscious but also be more inclusive in this way.
So that was I think social inclusion and sustainable mobility was a very big issue in the conference.
Maybe it was the most important aspect or one of the most important
aspects that came out of this conference, how these are connected.
And the good thing, I think about Erasmus Plus is that we have
the two priorities that we can easily bring these things together.
We can promote projects.
We can encourage young people to set up projects that deal with
inclusion aspects on one hand, and mobility aspects on the other aspect.
So this was a very important thing and my strongest personal learning maybe.
Giorgia: Thank you Manfred.
You raise very important points and topics, for example , the one about the economical struggles.
You know, for example, I have in Italy if you want to be a vegetarian, for example, or a vegan person, it is
very complicated since in Italy we don't have as many opportunities for vegan and vegetarian people, for example.
And so this is something that also when you travel abroad and go from one place to another, you need to
keep in mind the price of the food that you will find in the place that you're going to, you know?
And so, it is important to underline that social sustainability is something linked to the human rights
and the relationship between the others to have equal opportunities and to focus on the community.
Rather, the economical point of view is more connected to the perspective of the economic opportunities that we have.
So these three points are strongly connected also when we travel from one place to another.
And it is very important also for people to have a definition like that.
I've met this girl that's called Flavia Saron
She is from Romania, but she was raised in Italy.
She came in Italy when she was very young, and right now she's part of the Lunaria association.
And she was explaining to me how sustainability, the concept of sustainability, especially social sustainability,
really saved their life because having a definition, something that explains how to be more inclusive as possible.
Also for her, as a person with some disabilities . She's deaf from the, from when she was younger and she
has several disabilities, in talking, for example, she was explaining this just the definition of social
sustainability, so, something that is trying to be more inclusive as possible, for her was something life changing.
And it is a concept that is trying to teach to a lot of young students also when
she's doing project abroad or traveled with students with the project of Lunaria.
I think it's really amazing to understand the importance of definitions and
the importance of a correct word, a correct definition to be more inclusive
Lana: These questions of social and economic sustainability also sometimes raise the point
of differences depending on the context, depending on each person's needs . So I think one
of the aspects of the conference that was also highlighted was that we cannot apply the
same kind of mode of thinking to every young person that is involved in mobility activities.
So while we should be always thinking about things such as sustainable travel, we also need to weigh it with,
for example, inclusion and young people coming from the remote areas or rural areas who might not always have an
opportunity to take trains or to come in a more economic, more sustainably efficient way of traveling, et cetera.
So I think also these kind of different layers of inclusion that impact on sustainability
always need to be on our minds when we are conducting mobility activities in sustainable way.
Dariusz: I was thinking if you know of any practical implementation of what we are talking about, of how
young people and youth organizations actually are making sure that sustainability is there in mobility projects.
Of course, we mentioned some of them already, but if you know any practices that are, or maybe something
that you actually promote like in a German National Agency or the projects already implemented.
How was it done actually in youth mobility projects?
Manfred: Wow, there's such a big variety of different projects.
What we did, what was also part of our work plan within new climate change priority in
the program, we developed the guidelines, some guidelines for practical implementation.
That was our intention on how to create and implement a project that is sustainable.
And one learning, also from this exercise and also from the conference was that we as national agencies
we know a lot of mobility, but we don't have a lot of expertise and experience with the world outside.
So it was so great to see the co-operation in this project, but also in the
conference, and how many people really know so much more than us about sustainability.
So that was really a great enrichment also for the guidelines that we put together.
And it was just ready before the summer holidays.
I took it with me in the summer holidays, and I read through it and it was really just
great to do that because I've had, okay, it's very nice guidelines to help set up a
project, but in the end, when you look at it, it goes far beyond only doing a project.
It reaches out to your own personal life.
And that is really nice because it covers all the different aspects
from, how you can improve your mobility, your personal mobility.
Also, like Lana said it already, why can't we take trains and buses more, much more often?
What can we do to avoid planes?
So, we have all these guidelines now here and all of these different aspects, they are
accompanied with some practical good practice examples that are described very, very briefly.
Sometimes it's little local certificates that are issued for certain activities.
Sometimes it's it's a plan, like shared bikes or this, these
carriage bikes, a shared system on how to use them at local level.
How you can also integrate this kind of local environmental friendly transportation
within your projects, how you can make your project become a traveling project as such.
So there is loads of ideas and projects and that's really good to see that.
And I think that's also a bit our task as EPLM or as national agencies or as journalists to talk about
this and make these many, many, many good examples also visible and transfer them to others because that is
really something where you learn much more than if we tell them, please make your project more sustainable.
So when you really see and touch a project and see how it's done, that makes it much more easy.
And it's much more an incentive to do it the same way.
Lana: Just to follow up on Manfred , because within the EPLM we have actually been gathering different
practices from different countries following the conference, and it was really inspiring to see
different aspects of sustainability that different organizations they're using in their daily work.
So we had also examples concerning art, for example, concerning different types of sustainable living, et cetera.
So we will soon be publishing a compendium of inspiring practices in this regard . And of course there
are many other resources that we have, such as study on sustainability and learning mobility that
was published within the work of the EPLM, the background paper explaining different understandings
of sustainability and also many other inspiring tools and resources from the youth sector.
At the Youth Partnership, we have the sustainability checklist which we developed in cooperation with the
Joint Council on Youth of the Council of Europe, but also cooperation with various youth organizations.
But we see every day that within the youth sector everybody's taking on this topic
very seriously and very passionately, and really developing different resources.
And every day we have more inspiring practices.
So, whether it is kind of buying fair trade or buying local for events or focusing
on really teaching sustainability at each of the events, regardless of what the
topic is and kind of practically implementing sustainability within the activities.
Dariusz: Okay, thank you.
I was wondering what kind of vision do we have for sustainability?
Because there's probably a lot of questions we can discuss and probably will not find answers to many of them . I mean
, one of them that comes to my head is how the youth organization can actually measure the impact on sustainability.
Is there anything there in the pipeline or to support actually youth organizations to measure this impact?
But what's the vision for sustainability in learning mobility?
Where are we going?
How do you see it in the future, or maybe what's your dream as well, because that's also valid and important.
Giorgia: Personally, I think there are three main points that we need to underline.
First of all, I think one of my dream is to of course raise awareness.
So as we were saying before, to have more and more people that can talk about
sustainability, learning mobility, and have a more complex understanding of the topic.
Second of all, I would really like to try to be as sustainable as possible because when you understand and you have the
definition, you really look at your life or your lifestyle and you really understand how, are you sustainable or not?
You know, how many trains do you get?
How many planes do you, do you get to come from one place to another?
How much money do you spend on food?
How much money do you spend on, for example, going out with friends, basically.
Also, because not everyone is able to do the same things, and
so also trying to understand how your impact is on the world.
And thirdly, and most importantly, something that we really said a lot, and Lana will confirm
it, during the EPLM conference was be nice to yourself and fight for the bigger outcome.
But remember, not to stress yourself too much, because after understanding and raising
awareness, understanding your lifestyle, how is sustainable, one of the dilemmas
and the outcomes can be stress related to trying to be as sustainable as possible.
I've talked to a lot of young students that suffer from eco anxiety and eco anger and so , those
are kind of conditions where students have anxiety because of the fear of the end of the world.
Fear of not being able to try to be part of the climate change, to intervene on the climate change.
And so those are outcomes.
So we need to be kind to ourself and try to do our best.
And so this is my dream for the future, where we can fight for the bigger outcome with not stressful
environment, but with an environment that is peaceful and try tp fight for the climate altogether.
Manfred: That was so super beautiful, Georgia.
Very nice to say that because I think that's also very important for us, so that is not only
about doing a job in this field, but it's so much connected to your personal individual life.
And, I don't want to say, okay, you have to be a role model, but you just need to act in a coherent way.
So you kind of go and make your project more sustainable and
yourself, you're not really following certain ideas or concepts.
What I think is what makes it different, and maybe that's also a little bit, can be a little bit of an
answer to what Georgia described as some kind of eco anxiety or something is that we, that we have a
learning environment or that we could provide a learning environment that is not so strict and formal.
So we have this non-formal learning opportunities provided by the
programs and where you can maybe more experience what can be done.
You learn things that are complex and that are difficult and that is also maybe scary for many people, of course it is.
In reality, it is scary.
But not to panic and, and learn how to deal with it.
And I think the learning environment that potentially the programs provide through the activities can help to overcome
this also a bit, because you can try out things, you can learn how other people do it or you can create new ideas.
So I think that is very important and maybe that we should also take this as a kind of
responsibility for us as national agencies or trainers or whoever is implementing the programs.
So this individual aspect is very, very important.
And, and I see an opportunity there.
But one other aspect I also learned and I learned more and more we also have to think about how to connect to
each other, how to have a good cooperation at the political level, because at least somehow in Germany, I feel
there's also a strong opposition, a strong denial of climate change, for instance, or a strong opposition against
certain, certain things that need to be implemented to stop CO2 emissions or so, so it's not self-standing.
Not everyone thinks in the same direction, and I think we, we need each other.
We need the partners, the people who have knowledge, the expertise, scientists,
but also NGOs who worked for a long time with a lot of commitment in this field.
So we need to work together also to raise the awareness, as Georgia said, but also to strengthen ourselves,
to support ourselves in this, let's say more political or strategical necessities that we have to overcome.
So it's also not a case that everyone says, okay, there is climate change and we have to do something against it.
And I will start here and here.
There are a lot of people who just don't care or say, this is not really necessary, or, well, it's just weather.
Lana: Thank you both.
I think it has been really inspiring . We have been talking about this topic,
as I said, for for quite some time in the context of learning mobility.
And I think some of the things that are important to remember is that while we can all live more
sustainability we can all bring more balance and sustainability to our lives through our actions.
We can also share the message about it and how to do it, and we can also inspire with our example and our practices.
But it is also important to acknowledge what Manfred mentioned is that we need to collaborate and we need to cooperate
on this topic because sustainability is not something that only one generation or one sector can tackle together.
It is a joint effort and the one that requires us to consider all different aspects
of sustainability, but also all the different stakeholders and different sectors
because we are all contributing to it together in a positive or negative way.
So it is up to all of us to work together to create a more sustainable future.