All the way from Azerbaijan, Nazila recounts her experiences as she participated in all four of our international activities for 2023, and especially what happened during her workshop in Cecina, Italy in September.

From the shores of Bergen aan Zee, Netherlands, my transformative journey started as I received
opportunity to became part of the 2023 cycle, “Extremism, a Danger for Climate Justice?”
organized by International Young Nature Friends. The experience shaped my understanding of
climate justice, the social aspects of the climate crisis, and psychological principles of populism.
The seminar forced me to see the sad realities of world, how many of us influenced by populist,
far-right ideologies without even noticing. It’s remarkable how, in such a brief span, I absorbed
this much valuable information.
The adventure continued in Austria, Rax, with the seminar, “Keeping Sane within Climate
Activism.” Here, we, the participants, discovered more about emotional control, negotiating and
conflict resolution during debates. This particular seminar not only brought trainers and
participants closer but also created a safe space for us to face our emotions, confront insecurities,
and support each other with heartfelt hugs and encouragement. The pivotal moment came during
a profound question that was asked by our trainer: “What would you do if you knew you
wouldn’t fail?” It ignited a spark, leading me to the workshop I would soon facilitate alongside
my incredible team. The question provoked thoughts on the resilience of dreams and the courage
required to take an action, especially in a world on the edge of despair, also as young people,
how we often feel powerless and hopeless when it comes to initiating or being a part of change.

The next stop on this transformative journey was Bielefeld, Germany. Here, we engaged in
activities to develop critical thinking skills, practice reasoning and negotiating in simulated
debates, and evolve into more effective trainers and facilitators.
Finally, with the knowledge and skills that I gained through previous activities, I arrived at thelast destination of the cycle: Cecina, Italy, for the ‘IYNF Festival on Activism for Socio-Ecological Diversity’ on September 20th. This time, I served as a facilitator, and I wasn’t alone; was accompanied by my wonderful fellow facilitators Amalie, Paki, and Juul.
The topic of youth participation in climate justice brought us together, as each of us was
concerned about how the youth often feel discouraged to take action in their communities and
make their voices heard. So, we designed a workshop titled ‘Youth Empowerment: Climate
Justice Challenge’ with the objective of engaging participants in a dynamic and experiential
game that explores various youth empowerment methods for addressing climate justice issues.
We prepared a set of empowerment method cards, each describing a different approach to
addressing various climate justice issues.

Our workshop took place on a very rainy day of the festival, prompting us to change our plans
for an indoor activity. However, we were not upset, as we had amazing participants who
supported us with their active presence. The game in the workshop had simple rules: participants
were divided into four teams based on the scenario they selected. The given scenarios were
Water Equity, Urban Heat Islands, Climate Education Gap, Environmental Migration, and a
Community-based open topic. Each team drew one empowerment method card from the box,which included methods such as Advocacy and Awareness, Community Organizing, Youth-led
Innovation, Collaboration and Partnerships, and Front-line Activism.
In their teams, participants brainstormed and discussed how they could use the assigned
empowerment method to address the climate justice challenge described on their scenario card.
After the brainstorming session concluded, each team presented their proposed solutions to the
entire group. It was extremely interesting to listen to the local scenarios of participants, covering
climate justice issues in Senegal, Azerbaijan, Spain, and Germany.

Despite the constrained 30-minute timeframe, participants seized their limited opportunities to
address significant problems, showcasing the potential of youth to effect change even with
limited resources. At the end of each presentation, questions were asked, and perspectives were
shared, creating a dynamic exchange of ideas.

And so, we successfully concluded our workshop, basking in the positive and constructive
feedback from both trainers and participants on that memorable day.
While my focus has been on the facilitation aspect of this story, these activities, including the
final festival, were not just about workshops. They were filled with moments of joy: deep
conversations, playful games, energetic dances, refreshing morning yoga, hearty laughs, warm
hugs, swims, breathtaking hikes, and yummy vegetarian meals. My heartfelt gratitude goes to the
IYNF team for creating this opportunity to build a community of people united by a love for
nature and a shared awareness of climate change.

Nazila Aliyeva