The prospect of climate change is no longer mere speculation: as this summer's events clearly demonstrate, flooding, forest fires, changes in temperatures and droughts affect many European regions. At the same time, fossils fuels are running out and renewable sources of energy are not yet sufficient to respond to our energy needs.
These crucial themes were discussed during the Assembly of European Regions' (AER) Summer School and Youth Summer School, held in Exeter, Devon-UK, from 26th-31st August 2007. Nearly 200 participants, coming from 67 regions and 23 countries, took part in the events, contributing to the international symposium on sustainability.
Graham Watson, MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar, reminded participants that "regions have an extremely important role to play in the implementation of environmental measures and the development of environmentally-friendly policies that affect all sectors of society". The AER Summer School 2007 aimed to equip regional politicians and officers with the skills they need in order to play this role effectively. Participants benefited from sharing best practices with regions that already implement successful policies; Devon County Council, for example, showcased its 'Do-it-for-Devon' climate change campaign and its successful carbon management scheme. Participants also had the opportunity to benefit from hearing young people's ideas and points of view on sustainability. It is now their duty to integrate these contributions into their sustainable policies.
This year, the specific goal for the AER Youth Summer School was to help young people to become key actors for sustainable development in their regions. Workshops provided the 70 young participants the practical knowledge and skills to prepare and implement concrete projects when they return to their home regions.
"All key actors need to get involved if we are really to ensure that our future development is sustainable: this includes global and Europe institutions, states, regional and local authorities and citizens. But regional and local authorities are the key actors who can make this change: our convictions and our close relationship with our citizens will help us to build a sustainable future!" concluded Brian Greenslade, Leader of Devon County Council and Vice-President Treasurer of the AER, underlining his satisfaction with the Summer Schools.
The AER Summer Schools are organised and financed by a committee of AER member regions. The AER thanks the following regions: Alba- RO, Brussels Capital-B, Devon-UK, Friuli Venezia Giulia-I, Istra-HR, Jämtland-SE, Maramures-RO, Nordland-N, Olomouc-CZ, St Gallen-CH, Västra Götaland-SE, Vestfold-N, Wien-A, Wallonie-B and Zürich-CH. The AER is also grateful to the Eastern Norway County Network, which provided a grant towards the organisation of the Youth Summer School.
The Assembly of European Regions - AER (www.aer.eu) is the political organisation of Regions in Europe and their spokesperson at European and international level. Its vocation is to defend the Regions' interests in the political process and develop interregional cooperation. The AER brings together 250 Regions from 32 European Countries and 14 interregional organisations.
Francine Huhardeaux, Press & Communications Officer, email@example.com - Mobile: +33 678 695203, Tel. +33 3 88 22 74 49;
Joanna Benfield, Director, AER Brussels Office and Chair of the Summer Schools Organising Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org – Mobile: +32 497 453586, Tel. +32 2 4218757