Brian van Es and Ting Xu participated in the first edition of the Trilateral Youth Conference: a brief témoignage
Together with other 44 young adults from Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands involved in or passionate about the Wadden Sea World Heritage, Brian and Ting brainstormed and exchanged for four days to create a shared vision for working to protect the Wadden Sea seascape.
The output of this process will be presented at the 14th Trilateral Governmental Conference in Wilhelmshaven at the end of November 2022. As Prof. Dr Karin Lochte, Chair of the Wadden Sea Board, remarked: “The voices of the younger generations who will live this future are essential input.”
Participants in the conference discussed the Wadden Sea's status as a World Heritage Site, shared future goals for the Wadden Sea and youth participation and involvement in nature conservation efforts. In addition to the workshops, they took a field trip to the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park, part of the Wadden Sea World Heritage site.
“It was great to meet and speak to all the different participants and to hear about their involvement in the Wadden Sea area”, says Brian, who also cared to remind that the economical sustainability of local enterprises in the area is an aspect not to underestimate for the full development of the Wadden Sea area: “A large part of the participants was in one way or another involved in volunteering. Which is great, but it is not 'sustainable’ since they (eventually) still have to earn a living somehow. Therefore, it was also nice that I could share some thoughts about how sustainable entrepreneurship can be part of the solution.”
The conference was of great inspiration for Ting, too, who now feels that she has more material and ideas to develop her project further: “Everyone shared their stories about the Wadden Sea and it is nice to know all the different projects and programmes related to its protection. I learned a lot from the conference and got more ideas about sustainable tourism in the Wadden Sea and hope to make it come true in the future.”
The 18 to 30-year-old conference participants concluded the works by highlighting the importance of improving communication and trilateral exchanges. A network to stay in touch and keep working on how to expand existing projects and increase the youth’s influence on the conservation of the Wadden Sea is now created and Ting and Brian can’t wait to contribute to it further.
Brian’s words of hope and enthusiasm perfectly depict how enriching the first edition of the conference was: “I am Dutch, and previously I associated the Wadden Sea with just the Dutch part. So, the message of 'ONE Wadden Sea' really spoke to me, since it is one big interconnected ecosystem spanning over multiple countries. Nature does not stop at our imaginary drawn country lines. And I think this message also nicely reflects the bigger picture. The world is one big ecosystem, and only through joint effort and collaboration can we make human life sustainable here on earth. Every participation is welcome and needed. The Wadden Sea (as well as the world) needs our passion and commitment. The possibilities are endless, just take your message into the world and become part of the solution!”