The Youth Session 2021 and sustainability

The sustainable development of societies seems to be a concern for which thousands of young people worldwide are repeatedly ready to take to the streets and make demands. After all, they are the ones who have to come to terms with the future consequences of our actions.

Anyone who examines current issues with regard to aspects of sustainability also quickly realises that the challenges involved are of a cross-border nature and can accordingly only be overcome by means of international cooperation.

For these reasons, sustainability lends itself particularly well as the overarching theme of the 30th Youth Session. The presence of young people from the surrounding European countries raises awareness of the need for international cooperation and enables those involved to address their visions and demands to politics and society in a formal way.

To this end, the following sub-themes will be addressed at the 2021 Federal Youth Session:

Climate protection
The consequences of global warming represent one of the greatest challenges in the field of climate protection. This affects plants, animals and people, who see their livelihoods increasingly threatened. Accordingly, the dwindling glaciers and the decline in forests represent developments that will shape life on Earth in the future. Future conditions on our planet will therefore also be determined by the efforts made to protect the climate. So what would need to be done to protect the climate in the long term?

Circular economy
The goal of the circular economy is to use raw materials as long and as efficiently as possible. Closed loops, which aim for a seamless transition from consumption to renewed production, should make it possible to reuse these raw materials. In this way, environmental impacts related to raw material scarcity, emissions or waste can be addressed in a sustainable way. Can you imagine an economy free of waste?

Raw materials
The extraction and use of (fossil) raw materials is not only one of the biggest environmental problems worldwide, but is also often the cause of social and economic conflicts. As a possible alternative, renewable raw materials have great potential in terms of sustainability. However, inappropriate extraction of renewable raw materials can also become a problem for the environment. What innovations and visions do we need in dealing with fossil and renewable raw materials?

Education for sustainable development
The education system plays a decisive role in the future development of societies. The competencies and content taught accompany children and young people during their common time at school and shape the way these children and young people think and act as adults. But which competencies will really be important in the future?

Water conservation
It's not just land areas that are suffering from human impact, but also the world's waters. Microplastics, waste, chemicals, traffic of goods and fish farms contribute to the fact that the number of living creatures and plants in the water is increasingly under threat. Given their important role in global and local climate phenomena, protecting our water is one of the great challenges for sustainable development. What do we need to do to protect our waters sustainably?

Building culture
Ecological, economic and social sustainability play a central role for the built environment. Building culture is therefore closely linked to ideas about appropriate living space and, depending on how it is designed, can promote environmentally friendly mobility or economical use of land and resources. Increasing densification in city centers and the growing gap between urban and rural populations are also leading to social challenges that need to be addressed in a sustainable way. But when is building culture actually sustainable?

Fossil phase-out
A relevant share of the world's energy supply is still based on fossil fuels. At the same time, global demand for energy is rising. As a result, energy production is now responsible for a large proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. Innovative strategies and visions are needed to ensure that the transformation to a sustainable energy supply can proceed rapidly without causing bottlenecks in supply. How can we succeed in phasing out fossil fuels in the long term?

Sustainable Finance
Global financial systems have a strong influence on the sustainability of our planet. Without a clear integration of sustainability factors into the financing and investment decisions of actors from the financial sector, a consistent change is difficult. Therefore, there is need for a discussion of these factors and forms of integration into the everyday life of financial service providers. What measures and visions are needed to ensure that investments are increasingly made in a sustainable manner?

Impact of global supply chains
The increasing international networking of the last decades has led to the fact that many products and services are no longer produced where they are finally consumed. The transnational and global supply chains this requires can lead to severe environmental impacts and social inequalities between different countries and regions, raising questions about aspects of sustainability. What needs to be done to make these supply chains more sustainable?

Development cooperation with a focus on water
While there tends to be enough water available to us in Europe, water scarcity is becoming increasingly acute worldwide. The reasons for this are population growth, changing production and consumption patterns, and climate change. An end to these developments is not foreseeable at the moment and may lead to further aggravation and social conflicts within and between countries in the near future. What new ideas and approaches are needed to ensure sustainable access to water for everyone?