Eefke van de Wouw is 23 years old and represents all the young people from the Netherlands as a Youth Representative on Sustainable Development to the UN. She builds bridges between generations but also between politics and the voice of the youth.
Where does your interest in policy, politics and especially the elections to the European Parliament come from? What is your main motivation to engage yourself?
I realize that to have as much impact as possible, we need to engage on different levels within society. Activism for me is important to feel empowered and push the agenda, but policy making is important to get countries to undertake action (preferably with legal bindings). Being active on different levels also means being able to build a bridge between those levels and connect different parties.
What are your concrete suggestions regarding climate change policy at EU level towards candidates to the European Parliament? What would a candidate need to promise you to make you vote for her/his party?
A candidate would need to promise me that they have a high focus on educating not only the younger generation but the people in general about for example distinguishing fake and real news, which basically means critical thinking skills. I think critical thinking skills and education are key in the climate change debate, in understanding the situation that we are in and in getting rid of the giant fossil fuel lobby that spends a lot of money convincing people climate change is not happening at all. Furthermore a candidate needs to show he or she understands that ‘voting green’ is not about one party in particular, but about a collaboration between the parties that have green ambition and actively engages in this collaboration.
What are the “hot” topics regarding climate change in your country? How do they potentially affect the upcoming Elections?
One hot topic in the Netherlands is definitely carbon tax for the travel industry or the flight tax, and the discussion about growth or degrowth of aviation in the Netherlands. As this is also a big topic on European level this debate is really interesting to follow. For me, as a youth representative the most important hot topic is the climate strikes. Young people in the Netherlands are pushing the political agenda to raise their ambitions and have a higher sense of urgency. They are changing the political debate here in the Netherlands, but the school strike movement has an effect on a European and global level as well.
What should young people keep in mind while making their decision in the election to the European Parliament?
Keep in mind that your votes are your input for the world you wish to see. We can vote for the world of tomorrow in many ways: our everyday actions, where we buy and if we buy, how we travel. This is an opportunity to vote on a different level and your voice matters.
In your opinion, is giving a vote enough?
When is it ever enough? I think we are a generation that, in general, can’t seem to get to the finish line because for us it is never enough and that leads to a massive wave of burn outs and depression. In the Netherlands it is a big issue so what I always tell the young people that I talk to is this: Do what you can, use your talent for the world you wish to see and don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process. In this case: If voting is all you can do right now do that, if you can do more, do more!
Thank you for the interview!