Clear messages from Barents youth

Visa issues, lack of Barents identity and Barents in media, the need for improved language education, and making Barents young residents more active, are the most significant challenges for young people in the Barents Region, concluded 30 participants from all four Barents countries in a recent youth workshop.

Young women and men (17-25 years old) from Russia, Finland, Norway, and Sweden met in June in Tornio, Finland, for a unique workshop to explore opportunities for cooperation and setting visions for the future of the Barents region. The 30 participants worked hard for two days to identify the most urgent Barents issues from a young perspective and to prepare for a presentation of their ideas and proposals at the Barents Reunion in Haparanda.

The Youth Workshop is an important part of the Norrbotten Chairmanship of the Barents Regional Council, 2011-2013.

"It is important for us to know the opinion of the youth. That is why we organized this workshop so that young people in the Region can get together, develop and present their proposals. We have been looking forward to new and interesting ideas coming out of this event!" says Sari Roininen, Supervisor of the workshop and Senior Advisor at the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten.

The County Administrative Board advertised the workshop already in early spring this year inviting young people aged 17-25 years to send in a letter of motivation with a vision for the Barents future development.

The finale was to present the outcome of the workshop at the annual event Barents Reunion in Haparanda – the Tornio twin-city on the Swedish side. Barents Reunion was launched and sponsored for the first time in 2008 by IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad. IKEA plays a central role in the area as a magnet for many to travel to the cross-border integrated Haparanda-Tornio. The aim of the Barents Reunion is to encourage the collaboration between the Barents nations and the Sami people in the countries in different spheres such as entrepreneurship, ecology, education, energy, and sport.

Ingvard Kampard, who is now in his mid-eighties was thoroughly impressed by the presentation and encouraged the participants of the workshop to continue to be active.

The workshop was coordinated by self-employed Emma Bergman - a cultural analyst, project leader, expert on youth, identity and relations, from Kiruna, Sweden.

"I am happy that we had the opportunity to deliver our message, because it is important for the cooperation in the region. During the workshop we could work together as one and that is the most important thing. We felt that we are the Barents", Bergman says.

The movie clip shows that events such as the youth workshop in Tornio are very useful. It is a great opportunity for young people to develop the region and create the Barents future together!

Meet the participants in the movie here


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