Another wonderful year is behind us, and IYNF is looking forward to the future with a lot of excitement, anticipation and preparation. Last year was dedicated to mental health and outdoor education and we had a lot of fun exploring all the possibilities of the outdoors and creating a fun first aid kit for those who would like a quick activity to raise their overall vibe. However, 2023 is expected to be a bit different, and dive more into what IYNF represents politically. We will be, once again, focusing on nature, climate and climate justice, but in a much more analytical and even argumentative way. 

We are all aware that things around us are changing – we are witnessing the effects of climate change on a daily basis. Many of us woke up to the news about financial losses due to unexpected climate variations. As much as we like to welcome the new year with a sense of hope and positive anticipation, it has become obvious that there is less and less time left to properly tackle the issue of climate change and that this crisis will dominate the international sphere in the next couple of decades.

While these things might be obvious to our Naturefriends, there are still people out there who disagree or people who struggle to navigate the current environment we live in. Climate deniers are as loud as they have ever been, which is why it is important to learn how to deconstruct their arguments and discover hidden implications. We understand that young people care about their future and are willing to do what it takes to deal with climate change issues, but that they might not have the necessary tools to advocate for better solutions or even understand various rethorics surrounding the subject. This year will not only focus on identifying extremist tendencies within the climate-conscious movement itself, but also properly equip young people to stand up to deceptive ideas.

One of the biggest keywords of this cycle is the word “populism”. It is defined as a political agenda that is said to represent the opinions and interests of the common people, as opposed to something that favours the interests of the elites. That is why right-wing populism has the potential to be very harmful – its arguments are constructed to appeal to the common, often confused masses, and young people might not be able to recognize them and label them as such. That is why for this cycle, we will do our best to provide as much knowledge, analytical strategies and encouragement as possible, so that young people can stand up to this kind of manipulation. We will join forces with experienced trainers and experts, welcome ideas from our participants and work together on the dissemination of the project – four podcast episodes aimed at further spreading the knowledge and the solutions. 

Our goals for this cycle are very clear

  • We want to help young people understand why populistic agenda defines itself against the climate-positive movement
  • To learn how to recognise destructive speech patterns that can be defined as anti-climate and anti-environmentalism
  • We want them to learn techniques of assertiveness on how to react on populistic statements and make their voices heard
  • We want them to deepen their knowledge about climate change issues and recent trends in environmental protection

“Extremism – A Danger for Climate Justice?” will certainly be an interesting and challenging cycle and we invite you to join us for our following activities for this year. Look at our brief overview to see if you can apply to one (or all) of the sessions. 

Seminar – Climate Justice vs Right Wing Populism (23rd-28th January)

For this first activity, we will travel to a Naturefriends house in the Netherlands and do our best to get acquainted with the topics and their main definitions. We will spend five days in this introductory seminar, in the hands of two trainers and one expert – we will build the group as a team, provide information, exchange ideas and come up with common solutions. We will learn more about climate justice, right-wing populism and common examples of contradictory truths that often appear in discussions about climate change.

We will focus on the theory and the foundation as our building blocks for success. We hope to educate our participants about climate justice and give real life examples that can help them navigate the surrounding discourse better. 

Training Course – Keeping Sane with Climate Activism (9th-14th May)

The second activity will already move onto a more practical approach to the problem. It will take place in Austria and it will build up on the theory and suggestions that were collected during the first activity. The main aim of this training course is to identify the potential problems young activists might face and to find ways on how to tackle these problems. We will use the inputs from our trainers and participants to map out the most common challenges and discuss ways of navigating them.

On top of that, we hope to teach our participants the newest trends in the climate movement and the importance of knowing how to deal with violence, aggression or verbal attacks when discussing climate change. We want our participants to build their critical thinking skills and their mental resilience in order to better handle debates and discussions and give better, more firm and more durable responses. 

Training for Trainers – Let’s fight for a socio-ecological diversity (19th-23rd June)

The third activity will take place in Germany and it is aimed at young leaders, youth workers or teachers who often work with young people. This training will focus on enabling young people to become trainers themselves – and further multiply the knowledge gathered during the first two activities. 

We want our future trainers to be able to evoke critical thinking in others, know good examples from practice on how to deconstruct and debunk deceptive arguments and to understand the history of the environmental movement and how it relates to right-wing populism today. We will focus on the practical and social aspects of the problem and hopefully equip 20 young trainers with the right knowledge, tools and attitudes to encourage young people to powerfully oppose anti-environmentalist movements. 

International Meeting – IYNF festival on activism for socio-ecological diversity (20th-24th September)

Our final activity will take place in Italy and it will welcome youth workers and leaders who want to challenge themselves by working on complex topics with young people. This activity will use all the collected knowledge and input and offer a chance to test these practices in a secure setting. 

Our participants will be able to create their own workshops under the guidance of our facilitators and receive feedback for their ideas and work. The program will be separated into two parts: preparation and festival. During the preparation phase, the participants will create their own sessions and educational materials. The festival phase will provide an open space for these workshops, where participants will be able to attend each other’s sessions and provide feedback. The main aim of this approach is to create real-life practices of non-formal education methods that would address prevention of radicalisation and climate change challenges. We will achieve this goal together, through discussions, exchanges and advice from our facilitators and create a safe space for each other and our ideas. 

Stay tuned for our open calls for participants during 2023 so you too can become a part of this adventure. This cycle will produce at least four different podcast episodes after each activity. Follow us on social media to be the first to hear the episodes and to learn more about what we achieved during each session! Join us in using our special hashtag for this year #greennotrightwing to show support towards more environmentally friendly solutions. For everything else, refer back to our website and social media. 

Article and visuals by Maja Tešić, ESC Volunteer