Island of the Youth Gathering 2019

City-Transformers organized, played host, and participated in a wonderfully rich four days of gatherings in Denmark with young students from the cities of Moscow, Mexico City, Copenhagen, and London. 

The students, their teachers, and facilitators all arrived in Copenhagen on Tuesday 8th October. It was a full day of meet and greet, and everyone getting to know each other. There was an evening meal for everyone at the hostel and an introductory greeting. The students were placed in mixed dormitories at the hostel so that they could mix and begin to learn of one another. The hostel proved to be an excellent place to have our base as it had ample resources, both inside and out, for all of our activities. 

On Wednesday 9th October we took a ferry to Youth Island – a former fortress that, with the support of Nordea-fonden has been transformed into a popular gathering place for young people from all over the world.  

During this day the young participants went for a ‘walk & talk’ around the island, mixing with the adults, so that everyone could present themselves and get to know each other. 

After the walk and talk a group of students went off to participate in a ‘Flow Game’ –exercise aimed at reaching greater depths of exploring ‘burning questions’. 

Another group of students focused on preparing their presentations and talks for the C40 Mayer’s Summit, while the rest of us had a lot of fun preparing the day’s evening meal, working with experienced chefs. The organic, vegetarian food – delivered by Simple Feast – was tasty and loved by everyone! 

While the larger group of students engaged in the various activities on Youth Island, a group of 8 students went to the centre of Copenhagen to participate in an Art and Culture event organised by Copenhagen’s Department for Sustainable Development. Their task was to paint and decorate a specially designed “Happy X-mas tree” symbolising SDG 11 – sustainable cities. The tree was included in an exhibition with 16 other trees – one for each of the Sustainable Development Goals.  After the exhibition the trees will be sold on an auction to the highest bidders and the profit will be donated to planting trees in a sustainable forest in West Africa.

The next day, Thursday 10th October, was the day of the C40 Mayors’ Summit Youth Take-over. A delegation of 12 young people from our pilot cities went to Copenhagen City Hall to join representatives from other youth Organisations at the C40 Mayors’ Summit – a summit for 96 of the world’s leading climate cities.

The rest of the participants were treated to a day in and around Copenhagen. They visited Nordhavn, the home of the UN City, which has ambitions of becoming the world’s first CO2-neutral City district and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts exhibition ‘CLIMATE,’ which comes with 29 different proposals for climate solutions in architecture, design and conservation. The field trip was concluded at the Citadel, where Martin Keller from Copenhagen’s Department for Sustainable Development presented the SDG’s from a different perspective.

The field trip was followed by more recreational mixing of the students later at the hostel, where everyone shared stories and impression from the day. By this time many of the students had formed bonds of friendship.

Friday 11th October was a day where we all remained at the hostel and engaged in different workshops. The students learned how to use the Global Explorer platform searching for impactful sustainable solutions implemented in Cities around the world. 

 After that everyone worked with the Participatory Democracy platform Vocal Eyes, where the students put forth their ideas for sustainable projects and everyone got a chance to cast their vote.  Some great ideas made it to the top of the stack and everyone enjoyed the experience.

On the final day, Saturday 12th October, we all returned to Youth Island, where the young students hosted the day’s events. On this day we were joined by other guests from various backgrounds: Change-agents from different organisations, representatives of eco-networks – and representatives from Copenhagen Municipality.  

After a round of presentations the young participants presented a final ‘Burning Question’ they had prepared the previous day. The question was discussed during a walk & talk around the island, where each young student was paired with an adult. 

After the walk and talk all groups were involved in roundtable discussions regarding how best to move forward with the City-Transformers initiative. The adults were given the opportunity to announce what their ‘commitment’ would be to support the effort the coming year.  It was uplifting to listen to so many people declaring their commitments for the future.

Another wonderful vegetarian lunch was provided by our superb chefs, before the group prepared to leave the island for the final time. It was now time to return to the mainland and to say goodbye. For many of the participants, there were emotional goodbyes after several days of intense, passionate, and rewarding days together. 

Yet we hope to meet together again, next year. City-Transformers has already started to plan for an even bigger and more ambitious event for 21st September 2020. We hope you will join us, so stay tuned for more news…

Watch our short video that features the highlights of our gathering