Twenty young elected local liberal leaders from twelve different countries debated how to urgently and effectively address the issue of climate change from the local and regional level, embracing their leadership role.

Climate change and the environment are the key issues of our time, and no one is affected more than today’s young, making them the best placed to tackle this global issue: they already experience climate change and will have the most time to do something about it.

At our Summit, all our young leaders agreed that their generation might in effect be the last one able to stop climate change. All are therefore more than eager to contribute and show there is an alternative, starting at their own local level. The most important driving force for this change? Leadership.

Leadership for the next generation(s)

The participants concluded that it is important that the young show leadership, to take matters of their future in their own hands by convincing the public, through policies, actions, education and media, of what needs to be done to overcome resistance and obstacles. But what makes a good leader?

Sebastian Leiss:

One of the most important things of what makes a good leader is to be yourself – you can’t convince other people if you don’t have ideas of your own and if you’re not convinced and confident yourself. “

Our young local leaders focused on some of these challenges in which leadership and vision is sorely needed: what do you do when the solutions aren’t cheap or popular, or when there is a strong industrial lobby that opposes them? Does one continue when targets are met or is complacency acceptable? What is the right thing to do? Is there actually a ‘right thing’ to do?

Ida-Maria Skytte:

There are still people who are critical to climate change, who don’t believe it is happening right now. We need to educate them and show that climate change is not  only real but also especially dangerous. We also have obstacles in politics – there are politicians who want to prioritize ‘other things’ than the climate, which is wrong: if you don’t focus on climate change, then we won’t have a planet anymore and can’t prioritise anything else at all. There won’t be any ‘other things’.

Other aspects of leadership that were mentioned included: becoming a champion of an issue, establishing the local connection, working with the media and schools, building alliances across Europe, providing opportunities for citizens to have ownership of decisions, anticipating future problems, and developing solutions with a positive message. Common to all these aspects, the participants agreed that a good leader needed to be willing to act, and be well informed, constantly seeking to have a complete and accurate picture.

The battle for ideas on ensuring the future of our planet has only just begun. With this summit, ALDE-CoR is helping young leaders of tomorrow to embrace the leadership mantle for it – today.

The participants included Kasparas Adomaitis (Lithuania), Anti Haugas and Erkki Keldo (Estonia), Dimas Gragera Velaz (Spain), Felix Maximilian Recke and Sebasian Leiss (Germany), Ida-Maria Skytte and Olli Rainio (Finland), Julien Bouchet and Vincent Chauvet (France), Kristian Nielsen (Denmark), Naoise O’Cearuil and Niall Kelleher (Ireland), Oktay Hakaev (Bulgaria), Oleksandr Toporivskiy (Ukraine), Rhys Taylor (UK) and Yannick Shetty (Austria).

The summit of young elected local and regional leaders is an opportunity for young local politicians to meet and share ideas as well as best practices among themselves, and afterwards to meet with experienced local and regional politicians in a joint meeting with ALDE CoR.