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Young Swiss abroad craft climate to-do list

Congrès des jeunes Suisses de l étranger
The Congress of young Swiss abroad SwissCommunity

No solemn declaration, but numerous recommendations full of good sense: at their second annual congress, held online on July 13, young Swiss abroad drafted solutions to make the planet more liveable and less caught up with consumerism.  

“Young Swiss abroad are the perfect embodiment of Switzerland’s commitment to the environment,” said Filippo Lombardi, president of the Organisation of Swiss abroad (OSA), at the opening of the Congress of young Swiss abroadExternal link on consumption and environmentalism. 

These topics, which the young people had specified before the congress, are a reminder of the importance the youth of the whole world now attach to saving the planet. Lombardi called these topics “perfect, because they are universal and bring people together”. 

From five continents 

About 70 young Swiss expatriates around the world volunteered to take part in the event organised by OSA but also the Youth Parliament of Swiss Abroad (YPSAExternal link). Its speaker, Francisca Espinoza Trombert, who lives in Chile, considered the event a success: “One of the things that pleased me most was that there are participants from every continent – from South Africa to China, and including Latin America, Australia, etc.” 

Youth who are currently participating in the OSA sports and recreation camp in Fieschertal, Valais, took part in the congress. A representative of WWF Youth and a young fashion designer whose creations are made from used clothing contributed as well. 

Francisca Espinoza Trombert
Francisca Espinoza Trombert, President of the Young Swiss Abroad. zVg

Actions in everyday life 

After the various presentations, participants went into virtual conclave to discuss the issues in small groups. What are you doing for the climate in your country? What can you do, or what would you like to do? These were the questions they were asked to address. As Trombert put it, “everyone was enthusiastic about participating and giving their view.” 

The congress did not end with an official declaration, but with recommendations and a list of actions which the young people can apply in their daily lives. “I finish what’s on my plate”, said Liisa in Finland. “I go on foot rather than by car”, suggested Alex in Australia. Laure, in France, buys “local as much as possible”. As for Rita, in the United Arab Emirates, she tries to avoid using the air conditioning, “even if it’s difficult!” 

Executive director of OSA Ariane Rustichelli found that the congress was “refreshing” in several ways. “There is always an expectation of  some official declaration after an annual congress. Instead of fine words, these young people have chosen action and decided to see what they can do for the environment on a day-to-day basis. We can all learn from that.” 

Keeping the link with Switzerland 

The youth section of OSA is the organiser of this virtual annual congress. Its first edition occurred right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. It was to enable young people to keep a link with Switzerland that the congress was launched, since the usual holiday camps and ski camps of the OSA had to be cancelled due to the health crisis worldwide. 

For Rustichelli, it is clear that online events will no longer be limited to situations like a pandemic. This is why the virtual congress of young Swiss abroad “will happen again for sure”.  

Translated from French by Terence MacNamee

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR