Fostering global connections and sustainability actions based on Sustainable Development Goals

23.01.2024 Leuphana students participate in the “We Grow Together” summer camp in Utrecht, The Netherlands, August 2023

Till Brüggemann and Svenja Loos, representing Leuphana's Institute for Sustainable Development and Learning, embarked on an inspiring journey as participants of the We Grow Together summer camp in the Netherlands. Organized by  Earth Charter International(partner in UNITWIN Network on ESD and Social Transformation and Politics4Future project) in collaboration with ONE WORLD Citizens and facilitated by the Dutch Erasmus Plus Agency and the European Commission, this youth sustainability camp brought together fourty-five participants, aged between 16-30, hailing from twenty-two different countries.

Svenja Loos supports the implementation of Politics4Future project and took active participation in facilitation of common learning sessions. Till and Svenja’s participation was decided after Alicia Jimenez visited Leuphana for a two-month fellowship with Transdisciplinary Academy in summer this year. Considering the potential of their participation, the students from Leuphana were invited to share their diverse experiences to the fellow participants.  

At its core, the We Grow Together summer camp aimed to foster connections, networks, and active participation among young individuals. It provided a platform for youth to co-create the camp's experience, offering an open space for dialogue on pressing global issues, including environmental and social challenges. The camp also aimed to nurture future young leaders while developing concrete action plans for ongoing collaboration. Its foundation lay in the principles of the Earth Charter, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the European Youth Goals.

To delve deeper into specific areas of interest, the participants were divided into eleven subgroups. These groups focused on critical topics such as Education, Community Building and Learning, Participatory Democracy, Peace and Justice, Sustainable Cities, Transportation, Climate Change and Action, Environmental Pollution, Conscious Consumerism, Faith and Spirituality, and New Narratives.

The journey began with collaborative input sessions, during which participants shared perspectives and identified regional issues of concern. This phase allowed us to understand the diverse cultural perspectives and individual concerns, ranging from drought-related projects in Africa to addressing the impacts of war in Ukraine. 

Throughout the week, inspirational change-makers presented on topics such as systems thinking, ecological tipping points, storytelling, and nurturing hope.

An important activity was the 48-hour filmmaking challenge, where the focus groups created short films highlighting their chosen topics and critical global issues. Additionally, the Nature Experience Day provided opportunities to gain insights into topics such as sustainable agriculture and local nature experiences.

A highlight of the camp was the Intergenerational Dialogue Event Day, centered around the theme: "What does real social progress look like, for you individually & for us as a Global community?" This event facilitated interactions with change makers which included sustainability experts from NGOs, political spheres, and business. Discussions revolved around potential and funding for implementing the innovative projects developed during the camp.

On a personal level, participating in the camp broadened the perspectives, deepened understanding of global interconnectedness, and honed leadership skills of all the participants. The summer camp fostered building a network of young change-makers to pave the way for future collaborations. This network can connect benefit various change organizations, such as the Earth Charter International and Leuphana which is seeking to create a Youth representative of its UNESCO Chair

For Till and Svenja, the camp instilled hope and confidence in the power of intergenerational and intercultural dialogue to effect change. It reinforced the belief that advocating for a more sustainable and just world is not only worthwhile but also achievable.

Programmes like the We Grow Together summer camp are pivotal in empowering and mobilizing the next generation of changemakers. By providing a platform for cross-cultural collaboration and real-world learning, they contribute significantly to the collective efforts to create a more sustainable and equitable future.


Written by Svenja Loos in collaboration with Till Brüggemann.


We grow together summer camp ©© 2024 Till Brüggemann, all rights reserved.
Svenja with other participants of the Summer Camp
We grow Together Summer Camp 2023 ©© 2024 Till Brüggemann, all rights reserved.
Till with other participants of the Summer Camp