Norway - Russia youth cooperation

1 May 2011

By Hanne Kjaerland Olsen, Nature & Youth's Russia project

Nature and Youth has, since the beginning of the 90's, cooperated together with youth interested in the environment in the Northwest of Russian. We have had an official cooperation with our two Russian sister organisations Priroda i Molodezh (PiM) and Aetas since they were founded in the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk region. Environmental problems know no borders and in North West Russia there are many and serious environmental problems. Therefore, the cooperation project is as important to Nature and Youth today as the day it was started. In the beginning of the project organisational building was the main focus, but over the years cooperation on political issues has become more and more important.

The aim of the project has always been that there should exist independent, democratic organisations for youth in the region. PiM and Aetas are now democratic and independent organisations, but we still stand ahead major challenges before the goal is achieved. The establishment of a genuine democracy is a fundamental precondition for Russia to solve their huge environmental problems. In addition, there is a fundamental scepticism of Non-Governmental organisations in Russia. It makes it extra important that we cooperate. YFoEE is very important for environmental organisation in Europe. When we are working towards the same goal, it is important that we can support each other and benefit from each other's experiences. Still we must not forget our Russian sister organisations. Because of the conditions they work under it is difficult to establish a national umbrella organization of environmental organizations for youth. Therefore it is important that we can collaborate and support the work of our neighbours in the east. Our experience is that we can learn much from them.