Focus group discussions on “sustainable food“ and “involvement of young generation” in Bremen
17 July 2023
The participants of the focus group discussions consisted of representatives of the public sector, non-profit organizations, city-state initiatives, political parties and activists.
The “Sustainable Food” focus group discussed the need for more regionality, seasonality and the reduction of food waste. Sustainable food should be made the easiest choice for consumers.
The focus group addressed one specific administrational problem: public funding application in Bremen and Germany is only open for civil society if they apply as organized groups like associations. Public funding guidelines should become open to individuals. The formation of a local “Nutrition Council” is failing since 2018 due to the complex bureaucratic process. The goal of a council would be the closer linkage of administration and civil society.
Value-added tax and prizing according to the full costs of products from cradle-to-cradle could influence consumption decisions towards sustainability. These solutions could serve as a guideline for consumers.
The “Climate Change and the Involvement of the Younger Generation” focus group started the discussion by introducing the consequences of climate change on the younger generation. The participants agreed on the perception that an increasing number of children suffer from panic attacks and sleeping problems due to climate anxiety. They also agreed that nature and forests are the main places for young people to calm down and reduce stress.
Young people are not only underrepresented in the administrational process, but also in politics. The focus group developed different ideas, how young people could be represented in policy making, e.g. youth forum, climate council, children’s’ parliament or representation in parliamentary sessions. Binding youth votes on laws that affect their future could be an example to include them in the decision-making processes.
The school and educational system in Bremen needs more teachers with competencies in sustainable education. Sustainable education should be part of all school subjects as a holistic educational approach. Schools in Bremen are chronically understaffed or overburdened by other duties. Participants noted that an endorsement of sustainable education principles by the Bremen Senate of Education would help to legitimize it.
Outside of schools, young people often consume information supplied by influencers. Influencers should educate and inform young people about sustainable lifestyle and climate change impacts. Sustainable solutions should be made possible to implement in everyday life.
More safe and accessible spaces for young people are needed to develop their ideas and strategies on how to deal with climate change impacts. There should be more community centers in neighborhoods with low-thresholds, practical projects that are tailored to the needs of young people (for example a repair café for bikes or an upcycling workshop for old clothing). This way it would be fun and easy for young people to participate and even organize their own projects.
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Anna Burhorst & Tina Schneider, Institute Labour and Economy, University of Bremen
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