My journey to the International Youth Convention did not start very sustainably with a car. Much better did the young people from Berlin-Brandenburg, who rode on a special train to Dusseldorf. Or an IYC participant from Switzerland, who took the bicycle trip to North Rhine-Westphalia.
Already in the planning stages of the Youth Convention there were many considerations how the four days could be made as sustainable as possible. As early as 2015, North Rhine-Westphalian youth had distributed tree seedlings to communities in order to compensate for the CO2 they incur on their arrival at the Youth Convention. Out of this thought arose the idea of offering a booth at IYC 2019, where the Youth Convention visitors can build insect hotels. A complete success: young people built 2,100 "bee churches" at the IYC booth in Hall 6 span>
A similar but much broader approach was pursued at the "Creativity Responsibility Initiative", just a few stalls away. From ideas for regional and seasonal floral decorations to recycled toilet paper and fair-trade church coffee, visitors were able to get many ideas for their congregations.
The idea of sustainability in catering has been implemented in concrete terms. The plates were made of sugarcane fiber, the cutlery and cups of lactic acid.The absence of plastic ensures that everything degrades after 31 days. The drinks were on waste prevention: this time there was water in returnable bottles, not disposable bottles as was the case at the European Youth Convention 2009. With about 288,000 bottles used, a lot of waste was saved. The IYC cup, which all participants received in their welcome pack, could be filled with coffee, tea or juice. Who knows how many disposable cups were avoided!
Climate protection on the exhibition grounds
Messe Düsseldorf is also trying to protect the climate. For example, photovoltaic systems were installed on the roofs, and wherever possible, electric vehicles are used on the exhibition grounds. Electricity consumption was reduced by 20 percent thanks to a special logistics concept, the use of acombined heat and power plant, automated refrigeration network and demand-based switching on and off of the ventilation systems. And the IYC visitors were able to use public transport for their arrival and departure for free with their ticket.
Environmental protection is a topic for Christians
The topic sustainability was repeated several times in the programme, for example on Saturday in the workshop "Regenerative energies for all?". Four thematic groups dealt with the implementation of the theme in the Church, for oneself and in the family. Supported by the workshop leaders Stefan, David and Dragan, the young participants collected many great ideas, such as: Modernization of the heating system away from the oil heating, switching to green electricity (private and community), in the church garden plants instead of stones and abandonment of use of chemistry, and motion detectors in the toilets to save electricity, solar panels on the church roof.
Young people are also concerned with the factors that could hamper the implementation of ideas, such as funding, but also moral concerns, comfort, legal requirements or the consequences of acquisition like maintenance and cleaning. For the private sector, there were proposals such as reduction of living space or reduction of personal (meat) consumption and plastic consumption. All of these are small steps that are good for the environment and help to preserve the creation.
Stefan, David and Dragan appealed to the young people to turn their ideas to the responsible brothers and sisters in their congregation or district church and not give up too quickly. In the district church of West Germany, for example, there has recently been an energy consultant. Maybe there will soon be church climate officers?
The subject of water consumption was, in the widest sense, the English-language presentation "Water and sanitation in developing countries". Martin from the charitable relief organization from NAC reported that currently around 663 million people worldwide have no access to clean water and 2.3 billion have only limited clean water. NAK-Karitativ, together with other aid organizations, supports various projects that provide people with water or purify existing water and make it drinkable. This includes, for example, the construction of toilets and sewage treatment plants, instruction in the repair of water pumps or the construction of biogas plants.
The IYC provided numerous suggestions and impulses for sustainability and environmental protection. What will happen is up to each individual ...