Youth in the Barents region

Youth play a crucial role in the Barents region. One of the common problems that all four countries in the Barents region – Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden – continuously try to solve is how to attract young adults to stay in the region to grow, develop and cooperate.

The Joint Working Group on Youth (JWGY) has since 2002 been the leading youth cooperation policy organ in the Barents region. The priorities of JWGY policy these years are to enhance cross-sectorial youth policy, to increase knowledge in youth issues as well as to promote and support multilateral cooperation between youth groups and non-governmental organizations in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region.

The recent events organized by JWGY include the youth policy seminar “Barents on my mind” in Rovaniemi in September 2014 that involved 60 people from all over the Barents and strove to strengthen the dialogue between young people and decision-makers. During 2015, under the guidance of the JWGY, the Finnish Youth Research Society has conducted research regarding young people in the Barents region to explore conditions, youth cultures and daily life situations of the young residents in Barents region.

Barents Youth Cooperation Office (BYCO) is the implementing body of the Joint Working Group on Youth. The role of the BYCO is to promote multilateral cooperation in the youth field in a way that contributes to improving the situation of young people in the Barents region and to the sustainable development of the region.

On 25-28 June 2015 BYCO in cooperation with Barents Regional Youth Council (BRYC) organized an international art youth conference “UnCapitals Tour” where 44 participants from all over the Barents region had a chance to work together. During three days participants worked in different thematic groups and came up with fruitful results. The music group recorded three songs, the group of mural artists presented a new painted wall reflecting the Barents Identity and the media group collected series of photos and video from the project. The results of the “UnCapitals Tour project have been presented in an exhibition in the Kulturkontakt Nord office in Helsinki from 23 September until 16 October 2015.

Barents Size”, an educational weekend, was organized on 18-20 September 2015 in Oulu. During it the Barents Regional Youth Council discussed such questions as “What is Barents?” “How am I related to Barents?” and “How could young people make Barents better in a practical way?”

Barents Roots”, the annual BRYC event, will in turn take place in Inari, Finland on 4-8 November. This year its theme is "roots and traditions”. It is an event where young people from all over the Barents region meet, make new friends and work together to create a joint outcome.

Summing up, there is a plenty of opportunities for the young people in the Barents region. Nowadays also politicians are paying attention to the High North, and the young generation should know about this and try to use in for its benefit.

Text: Zhanna Guzenko, Executive Officer of the Barents Youth Cooperation Office

More information about the young people life in the Barents region: www.barentsyouth.org

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Barents Euro-Arctic Council official website 2016