by Simona Dumčiūtė
The youth of Klaipėda, Klaipėda youth organisations and the Klaipėda city municipality, by combined efforts, proved themselves and Europe that they deserved the European Youth Capital 2021 title (EYC2021). Klaipėda was shortlisted in the finals together with Chișinău (Moldova), Nicosia (Cyprus), Varaždin (Croatia) and Yaroslavl (Russia).
The outcome of the EYC2021 contest became clear on 21 November, during the award ceremony in Novi Sad (Serbia), that will take over the EYC title next year. During the final ceremonial event, the European youth was congratulated by the Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić and the winner of the contest, which lasted almost a year, was announced by the European Youth Forum’s President Luis Alvarado Martinez as well as the mayor of Novi Sad Miloš Vučević.
“We are boundlessly happy and proud that Europe has heard our call – #chooseklaipeda. The victory of Klaipėda is a historical event not only to Lithuania but also to the history of the European youth capitals in general, as it is the first time for a country of the Nordic Europe, Baltic or Scandinavian region to become the European Youth Capital,” said Aistė Andruškevičiūtė, the youth affairs coordinator of the Klaipėda city municipality.
The ambition of Klaipėda to become the European Youth Capital was supported approximately by 30 youth and youth-related local, regional, national and international organisations. The UBC Youthful Cities Commission, the Youth Board of the Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation (BSSSC) as well as the Youth Board of the Euroregion Baltic (ERB) expressed their support to #chooseklaipeda. Having become the EYC2021, Klaipėda blends in the European youth capitals’ network, which goes back a decade, with a view to reveal the port city youth’s ample opportunities of international co-operation.
“#chooseklaipeda is probably the most ambitious initiative of our city’s youth throughout the whole history of Klaipėda, who put their heart in it and did everything they could. That’s why I am very proud of your commitment and would like to congratulate all young and ambitious Klaipėda residents, who are full of ideas and have a sense of purpose and who contributed so much to this important victory. In 2021, Klaipėda will see not only the Tall Ship Races but also as much youth as it has never seen before. Aiming at getting the EYC title, we stayed especially focused and now, when implementing this idea, we must show not only to Lithuania, but to the whole Europe, even more solidarity,” said Vytautas Grubliauskas, Mayor of the City.
Although the title is given to the city for only a year, the preparation, project development, initiatives and international co-operation development takes a period of five years. Klaipėda, as the EYC2021, within a period of five years, will implement the integrated programme built on 9 different platforms with its main goal to reveal youth potential and become a youth-friendly, open and co-operating city in the Baltic Sea region.
The youth involved
The programme was built on the identified youth challenges and will be developed in three directions. “Act” – focused on the involvement of the youth into the resolution of the issues that are topical for the youth, the encouragement of the youth towards taking interest in politics, the development of the competences of the youth, the organisation of civil initiatives, the engagement of the youth in voluntary activities, and the enhancement of the youth policy. “Create” is concerned with the encouragement of Klaipėda youth entrepreneurship, the release of youth’s creativity, the creation of innovations. The programme’s direction “Reveal” is intended to create and adapt youth-oriented and open city infrastructure, develop open-ended and conscious society, form safe environment for the development of everybody, and implement the educational activities on the issues of gender equality.
“When we, with the Mayor, were defending the application in Brussels, the jury admitted they were fascinated by the openness of our application. We did our homework and, together with the youth, outspokenly named the biggest challenges and drafted the programme that would help us overcome them” – said Greta Tautavičiūtė, the leader of VšĮ “Amicus Certus”, who prepared the application.
400 events, 200 activities aimed at improving abilities, more than 70 international and national partners, 1 000 volunteers, half a million of guests, seismic changes in the youth policy sphere and the revealed youth potential – all that is provided for in the Klaipėda programme.
European Youth Capital
The European youth contest is organized by the European Youth Forum. The title has been granted to the cities for more than a decade. This year’s European youth capital is Cascais (Portugal); in 2019, this title will pass to Novi Sad (Serbia), in 2020, – to Amiens (France). For more information about the European youth capital contest please refer to https://www.youthforum.org/youthcapital.