The debate is part of the European Committee of the Regions' Young Elected Politicians programme and the Green Deal Going Local initiative
The Young Elected Politicians programme of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Bratislava – Petržalka Youth Parliament organised a digital info session and debate on the opportunities associated with the European Green Deal – the EU's strategy to reach climate neutrality by 2050. The debate was the occasion to discuss the key priorities of the CoR's Green Deal Going Local initiative and the challenges and opportunities that the EU's transition towards climate neutrality brings for the city of Bratislava.
On 25 May, the Young Elected Politicians (YEPs) programme and the CoR's ENVE Commission organised a debate in cooperation with the Bratislava–Petržalka Youth Parliament on the state of play on climate action in the EU and how to turn the European Green Deal into concrete benefits for the city of Bratislava.
The debate was hosted by Miroslav Behúl, city councillor of the Bratislava–Petržalka Municipality and participant of the YEPs programme, and Vincent Chauvet (FR/Renew Europe), Mayor of Autun and rapporteur of the CoR opinion 'Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition towards COP26'.
Opening the debate, Vincent Chauvet (FR/Renew Europe) said: "As a former YEP and now member of the European Committee of the Regions, I am delighted to witness the work of the Bratislava – Petržalka Youth Parliament. I am very well aware of the generational drift that exists on the question of climate and environment and strongly believe in the power and the responsibility of the youth to push for and implement all measures aiming at decarbonising our way of life. It will not be an easy task, as we need to combine the transitions with the post-COVID-19 recovery. This is why I encourage every municipality of at least 10 000 inhabitants to consider creating youth parliaments, such as the one I joined today, to make climate policy a reality and to offer a sustainable, just and climate neutral future for our citizens."
Miroslav Behúl, city councillor at the Bratislava–Petržalka municipality and participant of the CoR's YEP program, said: "Environmental themes are, in general, very close to the young generation. The commitment and the motivation of young people must therefore be used in the effort to build an environmentally friendly Europe. There are many youth parliaments across EU regions, which can also take part and support the implementation of the European Green Deal. Youth parliaments are in general in a close connection with the self-governments and with the young people. Therefore, I think that youth parliaments should get more information about best practices and examples of using the opportunities to improve our environment."
The debate was guided by three open questions: the 'opportunities of the European Green Deal for my city', its concrete implementation in Bratislava and how to best share knowledge and best practices.
Participants agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic offers great opportunities to improve green policies and legislation at the local, national and European levels while remaining concerned about the challenges municipalities face in delivering concrete green projects locally. Moving towards more sustainable transport is necessary, participants said. Cycling and zero-emissions public transport must be a priority without excluding rural areas.
The young generation has an important role to play in ensuring a sustainable and green recovery, participants stressed. Voices converged on the need for the younger generation to further engage and participate in politics. This applies in particular to women who are currently still underrepresented across political levels, a situation the CoR's YEPs program aims at reversing.
Climate action at the global level and the role of cities in contributing to the Paris climate agreement's objectives were also part of the debate. The next United Nations climate summit, the COP26, will take place in Glasgow in November 2021. Higher climate ambition is one of the main points at stake.
Participants also exchanged on the Covenant of Mayors as a key support tool for cities to promote and advance their climate agenda, the New Bauhaus as an inspiring set of principles to redesign our buildings and cities, the role of forests and biodiversity in the path towards climate neutrality and the Conference on the Future of Europe as a catalyser for shaping the Europe of tomorrow.
· The Young Elected Politicians programme (YEPs) is a network of politicians who are no older than 40 and hold a mandate at regional or local level in the EU. The YEPs programme was established by the European Committee of the Regions in 2019. Since then, more than 300 young politicians have already joined.
· Green Deal Going Local is an initiative of the CoR that aims at placing cities and regions at the core of the European Green Deal and ensure that both the EU's sustainable growth strategy and the COVID-19 recovery plan translate into direct funding for cities and regions and tangible projects for every territory.
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