Interview with Young Friends of the Earth Macedonia for VOICES magazine
- What are the Balkan Regional Forum and Balkan Green Deal?
The Balkan Regional Forum was a 3-day online event and an open platform for organizations, individuals, initiatives, and institutions from the Balkan countries to jointly discuss and create the Balkan Green and Just Recovery Plan, as well as to inspire future plans and contours regarding the Balkan Green Deal. The Forum included informal learning and participants’ knowledge and experience exchange while gathering visions and concrete steps and actions to implement the vision of the Just recovery plan and the creation of the Balkan Green Deal contours.
The Balkan Green Deal is a document that consists of collectively created visions for a socially just and environmentally sound future with concrete steps that need to be taken to make that future a reality. This includes bold and specific policy recommendations based on principles of justice and equity for all, and demands for policymakers to not only do what is politically possible, but what is desperately needed. Balkan Green Deal to reflect the collective vision of 2030 we build together in the process, the joint dreams of a world of abundances for the many on a livable planet.
The Balkan Green and Just Recovery Plan is a pathway on how to achieve the Balkan Green Deal vision for 2030.We believe that we need to collectively plan the actions we are going to take individually, with our groups, organizations, communities, and countries, to build back better from the pandemic and the economic and social failures, to be transforming the society into the one that we want to live in.
2. What are the purposes of the Balkan Regional Forum and Balkan Green Deal?
the creation of the Balkan Green and Just Recovery Plan and the Balkan Green Deal is of immense importance to catch this momentum of the uprising and resisting the interwoven crises of today and to shift course towards a better world for everyone.
The purpose is to create a better and bolder framework and a plan that will help our economies and societies build preparedness and resilience for all of the national and global challenges that we are currently facing and are going to face in this transitioning period
More importantly, this is the moment to unite our struggles and strengthen our voices as social movements, groups, initiatives, unions, organizations, policymakers, scholars, academics, care workers, educators, activists, and citizens. This is the moment to strategically work together towards a joint vision, in each and every area of influence we might have, and transform the current unjust system into one that is based on love, solidarity, and a deep care and thrives on peoples’ liberation and celebration of diversity in harmony with nature.
3. How will you achieve your goals? What are your plans and upcoming events?
At the moment, together with the Balkan coalition and different groups, we are in the process of creating, reviewing, and contributing to the Balkan Green and Just Recovery Principles and the Balkan Green Deal live documents. During the “Balkan Regional Forum”, we have created a timeline of activities and joint campaigns, where we are connecting our future actions, some of which are: national youth gatherings for creating the national Green Deal, Intersectionality trainings, collective visioning on the road – gatherings with local communities throughout N. Macedonia and series of meetups with the Coalition of the Future which is a group that works on the creation of the national Green Deal since the beginning of this year.
In the next steps, we are creating a digital space for collecting people’s visions and a place where citizens can write about the problems in their communities and solutions, i.e. a digital participatory platform which will be named “Zelenglas” or Green voice.
The main purpose of the platform is to encourage visitors to share their visions for the future of their community, region, country, and beyond and be part of the change. By creating this virtual place, we want to gather inputs from various groups that will help us contribute to the national and Balkan Green New Deal and Just Recovery Plan. The inputs will be gathered in a form of different questionnaires conducted with a methodology for collecting visions and intersectional approach. The main aim is to collectively work and build solutions that will help decide for our communities and the voices of everyone to be heard.
4. Why do you need to do it?
Environmental and social injustices affect all of us. But they disproportionately affect the marginalized communities, the ones that have been deliberately silenced and are excluded from political decision-making, cut out of discussions about what the future of our societies would look like.So, the creation of a Green Deal will push for a just system change with a built-in platform across regions bringing young people together with young people from under-represented communities into multi-leveled decision-making. With this, we will jointly create and build strong, collective visions for a socially just and ecologically sound future.
5. Who are the participants of the Balkan Regional Forum? What have you done by now?
Different groups of people coming from all over the Balkans and beyond to create a platform where decision-makers, students, journalists, activists, academics, and teachers could discuss and create a joint vision for a just future.
We have started drafting the concept for the Balkan Green and Just Recovery Plan together with SEENET (South East Europe Network for Energy and Transport) and we invite all social justice movements, initiatives, and organizations from across the Balkans to share the specific policy recommendations informed by their lived experiences and voices of the communities they work in, with and represent. Following the Forum, we have created a community – a Balkan Green Deal Coalition that you can join via the FB group or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, where we will continue working on both documents; the Principles for Balkan Green and Just recovery situation and the draft Balkan Green Deal.
6. How can people contribute to them?
Everyone is welcome to contribute to the collective visioning including young people and youth representatives from NGOs, groups, initiatives, and people from lower capacity groups such as trade unions, feminist groups, other environmental and social justice groups, and student movements and people from marginalized communities.
We need to have everyone on board and include as much input as possible so please take time to go over the live documents and contribute by commenting with your vision, opinion, and thoughts, following the links for: the Balkan Green Deal and the Principles for Green and Just Recovery.
For anyone that wants to actively participate in this creation process, they should write to us at email@example.com.
You can join via the FB group or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, where we will continue working on both documents; the Principles for Balkan Green and Just recovery situation and the draft Balkan Green Deal.
7. What are your expectations about 2030?
The expectations about 2030 should not be only about how we all individually see it but rather how we collectively plan it so it is as much as inclusive as it must be. Even though recent trends about our future are negative, and the current reality might be grim, we need to remain determined to bring about a system transformation, for a just, intersectional, and equitablefuture.
We need a Balkan Green Deal and a Balkan Green and Just Recovery Plan that put people and the planet first and set out radical demands for building back better from the interlinked crises we are facing now. To create these visions and demands and the movement around them, we need everyone on board.
Thank you for the interview to Sofija, Ena and Marija from Young Friends Of Earth Macedonia.