The European Environment and Health Youth Coalition (EEHYC) is the first European youth participation network that emphasizes and promotes the understanding of the inherent links between environment and health. Youth participation in the decision making process is central to the Coalition’s actvities and is supported by ministers of health and environment through commitments made in the Declaration of the WHO Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health held in Parma, 2010.
We are living in an environment now that contains threats that we know about, and some that we don’t know about. At the same time, decision makers of tomorrow are the young people of today. For this reason we, young people, want and need to be partners in the decisions on the environment and health, taken by policy makers and by those responsible for policy implementation.
The EEHYC seeks to support, legitimize and give visibility to young people’s participation in processes aimed at achieving a healthy and sustainable environment. The EEHYC will act to unite and focus youth-led activities to implement, monitor and strengthen the Parma Declaration commitments on environment and health. Primarily, this will be achieved by helping young people to establish platforms and networks and supporting ministries in creating effective mechanisms for meaningful youth participation in the European environment and health process.
The EEHYC is a hub for young people that acts through different organizational structures. Its membership is broad and includes youth organizations, informal groups, students, youth professionals, young researchers and activists, young entrepreneurs and young government employees. Through its membership, it interlinks the activities of different organisations, bringing experiences and ideas to international fora instigated by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, such as the Ministerial Board and the Task Force of the European Environment and Health Process.
What we do?
Through partnership with, for example, the WHO, UNEP, European Commission and other actors, the Coalition works to ensure the long term sustainability of the lived environment. To do this, the Coalition acts at national and international levels.
NATIONALLY – The emphasis is on young people developing national projects on Environment and Health, primarily in line with the Parma Declaration commitments and national responses. National Coalitions of young people from many sectors are being formed. Collectively, they seek to participate in national decision making processes, bringing outcomes from their activities to policy and strategy forums, at the same time providing a youth perspective.
INTERNATIONALLY – The EEHYC works to bring the collective and representative voice of young people to an international audience. This is done through the collection and collation of national data on EEHYC activities, their participation in international events and their representation at the WHO and other intergovernmental forums. The Coalition also works to strengthen EEHYC capacity at national level by acting as a clearing house for information flows, providing training activities and other developmental initiatives.
A bit of history
With the adoption of the Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE) at the fourth Environment and Health Ministerial Conference Budapest 2004, Environment and Health Ministers from the WHO European Region initiated a process that would give voice to young people on issues related to the environment and their health. From that time young people have been active in the process of developing both CEHAPE action plans and in organizing themselves into a European network. Through their participation in the fifth WHO Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health Parma in 2010, their participation in the European Environment and Health Process (EEHP) was secured.
Ministerial commitments to promote and support youth participation in the EEHP were included in the Conference declaration. In the Youth Conference Declaration, young people also stated their readiness to follow the outcomes of the Parma Ministerial Conference, undertake activities and work to call policy makers to account for their actions.
In 2012, with strong collaboration and commitment between young people, Member States and the WHO, the European Environment and Health Youth Coalition was created to fully establish and sustain youth participation in the EEHP.