Our podcast interview with YES-Europe Greece, “Sustainability YES-Talks” podcast

We are thrilled to be sharing our podcast discussion with YES-Europe Greece and NGO Move It about the networking, empowerment and soft skills evolution opportunities youth organizations and networks provide to their volunteers/ members. 

Our Network Coordinator, Miss Evangelia SAVVIDOU, talked about the first steps and successes of SDSN Youth Black Sea, discussed the valuable role volunteers can play in the network and shared insights about our next steps!!

🎙️ Listen the episode on spotify: 

– Written Interview – 

💬 Question #1

Tell us about the network. When was it established? What’s the network’s vision and main activity? 

💭 Answer #1

The idea for the creation of a youth network for the SDGs in the Black Sea region was conceptualized in February 2020. However, the bases for the establishment of such a network had been built since 2018 with the establishment of SDSN Black Sea in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. Eventually, the SDSN Youth Black Sea was officially founded in July 2020. 

SDSN Youth Black Sea is a member of the global youth network – SDSN Youth and U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network – SDSN, which was founded in 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General to mobilize the global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

SDSN Youth expands in 12 countries namely Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and mobilizes youth to shape a sustainable world for future generations. In order to achieve our vision, we educate young people about the SDGs and create pathways for achieving them; connect young people to exchange ideas, share experiences, and collaborate to achieve the SDGs, and; support young people in the creation and scaling of innovative solutions for the SDGs.

💬 Question #2

Who can join the network as a volunteer? Are there any limitations?

💭 Answer #2

The network mainly aims to encourage young people, aged 18-30 years, from the 12 countries to join the movement and engage in its activities. The volunteers can be students (under- , post-graduate or doctorate), youth professionals, youth leaders, or active members of their society. Of course, there is no need for potential members to have prior expertise or experience on working with the SDGs and/or in a youth organization. It’s enough that they have the enthusiasm, energy, time and responsibility to actively volunteer in the network. If interested, younger students or people beyond the age limit can join the network as well. 

💬 Question #3

Can someone volunteer online? What’s the workload? 

💭 Answer #3

SDSN Youth Black Sea was established in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the midst of the first lockdown, and has existed more in the online than in the physical world; thus, anyone has the chance to volunteer online. 

The workload depends on the position you will get involved in and its tasks. We care for our volunteers not to get overloaded with tasks. On the other hand, we ask them to be responsible in their duties. 

What YOU can DO 

  • Join your local SDG Students Hub and thousands of students around the world. We currently have about 15 hubs in 4 countries and work on expanding our network. 
  • Share your thoughts, through articles, on topics related to sustainable development.
  • Implement your idea by developing your project and make an impact.
  • Become a member of the Membership Program’s community, through the youth organization you volunteer at. SDSN Youth has a network of over 500 youth organizations.
  • Support and participate in SDSN Youth Black Sea and SDSN Black Sea’s projects.
  • Participate in the major SDSN Youth’s initiatives (Global Schools Program, Local Pathways Fellowship, Youth Solutions Report) and other projects.
  • Be an active supporter of the network and spread the word. #SDSNYouthBlackSea

💬 Question #4

Students usually take part in voluntary organizations. Does this affect the workflow positively?

💭 Answer #4

If we think about ourselves, we will realize that most of us firstly got involved in voluntary initiatives as university or high school students. Student volunteers are vital for every organization or network since they bring new ideas and perspectives, are enthusiastic, passionate to create and contribute to the activities, and have time and energy to invest. It is essential for the student – volunteers, though, to realize the importance of being responsible, disciplined and accountable for their actions. 

So far, all of our network’s volunteers were university students and contributed positively to our successes. 

💬 Question #5

What are the most important achievements of the network so far?

💭 Answer #5

In the one and a half year since our establishment we have organized 3 international events, 1 national (greek) event and 1 local event. We partnered with more than 10 youth organizations and created a regional network of about 15 member organizations. We have more than 15 hubs in 4 countries and engaged many students in our events and activities. Through our social media platforms and website, we raised awareness on interesting topics on the occasion of the International Days. Last but not least, we translated into Greek 60 lesson plans for K-12 sustainability education initially developed by the Global Schools Program. 

💬 Question #6

What impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have in the network’s activities? Did it create challenges or opportunities? How did you manage them?

💭 Answer #6

We could argue that the challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic, shaped our current identity. As we previously mentioned, the network was established in the midst of the pandemic, so it has not existed without it. Despite the difficulties of non-physical, non-personal communication and contact of the volunteers, participants, and partners, the pandemic helped us on leaving no people from the network’s countries behind, since the majority of our initiatives were open to participants from all the 12 countries, and not exclusively Greece and Thessaloniki, where our hosting institution is. 

💬 Question #7

Why should someone become member of a youth organization? What can it offer to them? 

💭 Answer #7

Soft skills cultivation, discovery of new talents, feeling of creativity and creation, team spirit, collaboration and networking are few of the benefits of volunteering in a (youth) organization. 

Being a volunteer in SDSN Youth Black Sea, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Connect and collaborate with young people with different backgrounds!
  • Learn more about the SDGs and sustainable development!
  • Put your ideas into action and have an impact on the world!
  • Cultivate your soft skills and discover new talents!
  • Contribute to the continuous growth of SDSN Youth Black Sea!

💬 Question #8

What’s one highlight of 2021? What are the network’s next plans? 

💭 Answer #8

Thinking of 2021, many important moments and memories that I am grateful for and proud of come to mind. I’ll highlight the network’s first face-to-face event which is “Climathon Thessaloniki 2021”. It was a 2-day competition during which 35 citizens of Thessaloniki, mainly students, came together and created 10 innovative solutions for tackling a local challenge. During the procedure they were supported by 4 mentors and 6 professionals. As for our next steps… stay tuned!

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