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Two countries, one topic: Responsible consumption in Senegal and Germany

Nature enthusiasts join forces on SDG 12

In March 2017, a group of ten participants from Amis de la Nature set out from Senegal to Germany for their first exchange visit to their partners at Naturfreundejugend Deutschlands in Berlin. Their plan is to draw on ideas and input relating to responsible consumption and sustainable tourism to produce a newspaper for young people in German and French. The return visit to Dakar is scheduled for March 2018 but the project partners have sent us this report in the meantime.

From the idea to the project

Photo: Naturfreundejugend Deutschlands. Berlin-Dhaka youth exchange on SDG 12, Responsible consumption

Our two organisations met at a workshop in Senegal around one and a half years ago. Within just a few days, both sides had developed a sense of excitement about what the other was doing and wanted to stay in touch and embark on a joint project. This quickly resulted in the idea of a youth exchange project. From the very beginning, we wanted to make sure we worked as equal partners. The weltwärts exchange projects funding line offered a good basis for this approach because it requires all applications to be signed and made jointly. This principle of equal partnership is an important criterion in the funding process.

Our focus: responsible consumption

Photo: Naturfreundejugend Deutschlands

We chose SDG 12, the United Nations sustainable development goal on responsible consumption, as the topic for our youth exchange project. It ties in well with many elements of our organisations’ day-to-day work. In particular, the aspect of sustainable tourism mentioned in the SDG 12 targets has been one of the core topics of the “Friends of Nature” movement ever since its inception. Consumption has an impact on many areas of our lives and it is something that everyone can take action on. In addition, some of the SDG 12 targets address problems that occur in Senegal and Germany too, albeit in different forms. For instance, as Naturfreunde, a great deal of our work has to do with (food) waste and sustainable business practices.

It was because of this that we decided to visit a wide variety of initiatives working on these topics during our first meet-up in Germany from 10 to 24 September 2017. We came away with a wide range of ideas and input that we want to present in a newspaper for young people to be published in German and French after our return visit at the end of March 2018. In particular, it will report on the relevance of responsible consumption in the context of global cooperation from our perspective as young people. For us, an important point is to get people to change the way they think and to listen to each other in order to have a good basis for further action.

Different views – one goal

Photo: Naturfreundejugend Deutschlands

The different challenges facing Germany and Senegal also affect the way we see things, which makes working in a partnership so fascinating. Moreover, each group has brought different methods, games and approaches to our project. As a result, we have learned to be completely open to new ideas and to break with our old way of thinking. It’s not a case of one side teaching the other – we learn from and with one another.

We are very pleased with our project so far and we look forward to seeing what the future brings. Of course, there is always room for improvement and we are nowhere near real, equal partnership yet. One manifestation of that is the different conditions that our participants have to meet to be able to travel to the other country. The Senegalese participants have to go through a complex visa process but the Germans only need a valid passport. Having said that, we as Naturfreunde will not be able to change that situation on our own.