From 14 to 19 November 2017, a group of 31 young adults from 16 European countries came together in Heerlen, Netherlands, for the conference “Raise Your Voice”. It was organised by International Young Naturefriends (IYNF), a network originating from the Naturefriends movement, bringing together young people under the common interests of non-formal education, care for nature, and solidarity. The activity was co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission and by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.
Facing the recent developments regarding migration in Europe and beyond, the network dedicated the year of 2017 to finding a common approach to the topic. The conference represented the last of three international activities of the “Border-free Solidarity” year and aimed to produce a joint position paper as a result of our discussions and debates.
The rationale for producing a position paper came from the fact that many people are being displaced from their homes and migrating towards Europe. Although the situation of migrants in the countries where the participants of this activity came from, differs considerably, a number of common challenges could be identified. On the downside, we observed, and some of us experienced, the fortification of EU borders, and an increased hostility toward refugees and migrants since the start of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ in 2015. Nonetheless, in some instances, we could identify good practice examples in the treatment of newcomers. During the three events of this year, we collected impressions, information and perspectives from different sides, and our intention is to set down the general principles that we can all agree upon.