Engaging Youth in Environmentally and Socio-Economically Sustainable Initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina  - In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), youth face social-economic dissatisfaction, which can be understood as "being less likely to see yourself flourishing, objectively or subjectively, in your community, whether socially or economically". The evidence for this is broad, including longer than average periods of unemployment and greater rates of unemployment among youth relative to adults in BiH, to youth and adults in the European Union, and the majority of Western Balkan nations. Many young people claim to feel powerless over politics and policy, and a disproportionate number of young people are leaving BiH in pursuit of better prospects. The popularity of nature protection movements is evidence that environmental problems are further eroding the sense of wellbeing of communities, and ongoing IOM research demonstrates that young people's desire to migrate is partially influenced by environmental problems, such as air pollution in cities.

As such, the goal of the IOM Development Fund-supported project "Bosnia & Herzegovina: Engaging Youth in Environmentally and Socio-Economically Sustainable Initiatives" is to address the socio-economic factors that contribute to youth dissatisfaction in BiH communities. IOM helps young people participate in environmental preservation and improvement activities through participatory initiatives and community mechanisms for fostering social cohesion and climate resilience. A special emphasis is placed on empowering women and girls.   

The project has organized EcoUP Start Weekends in three local communities: Bihać (28-30 October 2022), Jablanica (11-13 November 2022) and Bijeljina (18– 20 November 2022). The topic of the EcoUP Start Weekends was "Innovative Approaches to Environmental Protection and Prevention of the Outmigration of Young People as a Result of Climate Changes". The goal of the EcoUP Start Weekends was to develop creative solutions for environmental protection and to keep young people from fleeing their communities as a result of climate change. The occasions spurred insightful debates and produced novel, inclusive, and inventive initiatives that involved the nearby community. Through professional presentations and lectures, attendees gained knowledge on crucial subjects including circular economy, sustainable fashion, waste management, and sustainable projects. The project selected to support five project ideas: one in Bihac – “Scent Park”, one in Jablanica – “Mobile App FlyIT, MappIT, SolveIT” and three in Bijeljina – “A board game for preschool children”, "Path of Knowledge" and “Ecology – starts from the youth”.