Two countries, one topic: Responsible consumption in Senegal and Germany

Nature enthusiasts join forces on SDG 12

Partner country: Senegal

Partner organisations: Naturfreundejugend Deutschlands and Amis de la Nature

Duration: April 2017 – August 2018

SDG: 12. Responsible Consumption and protection

In March 2017, a group of ten participants from Amis de la Nature set out from Senegal to Germany for their first exchange visit to their partners at Naturfreundejugend Deutschlands in Berlin. From approaches, ideas and impulses on sustainable consumption and tourism, a joint youth magazine in German and French was developed by the participants together. The two groups met again in Dakar in March 2018. In the meantime, the project partners reported on their experiences so far.

SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

From the idea to the project

The first contact between our associations Naturfreundejugend Deutschland and Amis de la Nature came about during an exchange of experts in Senegal. Within just a few days, both sides had developed a sense of excitement about what the other was doing and wanted to stay in touch and embark on a joint project. This quickly resulted in the idea of a youth exchange project. From the very beginning, we wanted to make sure we worked as equal partners. The exchange projects funding line of Engagement Global offered a good basis for this approach because it requires all applications to be signed and made jointly. This principle of equal partnership is an important criterion in the funding process.

Four participants sit at a round table. They collect ideas on the topic of sustainable consumption and write them on moderation cards.
The participants discuss aspects of sustainable consumption and record their ideas on moderation cards. What do I really need? Does it have to be new? Can I borrow or share it?

Our focus: responsible consumption

We chose SDG 12, the United Nations sustainable development goal on responsible consumption, as the topic for our youth exchange project. It ties in well with many elements of our organisations’ day-to-day work. In particular, the aspect of sustainable tourism mentioned in the SDG 12 targets has been one of the core topics of the “Friends of Nature” movement ever since its inception. Consumption has an impact on many areas of our lives and it is something that everyone can take action on. In addition, some of the SDG 12 targets address problems that occur in Senegal and Germany too, albeit in different forms. For instance, as Naturfreunde, a great deal of our work has to do with (food) waste and sustainable business practices.

Two participants stand in front of a screen and present the collected ideas.
After the group work the collected ideas are presented.

It was because of this that we decided to visit a wide variety of initiatives working on these topics during our first meet-up in Germany from 10 to 24 September 2017. We came away with a wide range of ideas and input that we wanted to present in a newspaper for young people, which was produced together in both German and French during the reunion. In it, we showed in particular our youth perspective on the relevance of responsible consumption in the context of global cooperation. For us, an important point is to get people to change the way they think and to listen to each other in order to have a good basis for further action.

Different views – one goal

The different challenges facing Germany and Senegal also affect the way we see things, which made working in a partnership so fascinating. Moreover, each group brought their own methods, games and approaches to our project. As a result, we were able to learn to be completely open to new ideas and to break with our old way of thinking. It is not the one who teaches the other - we learn from and with each other.

One hand holds up a photo strip on which four black and white photos of participants can be seen.
Photos are one of the many ways to keep the memories and friendships from the encounters alive.

We were very happy with our project. Of course, there is always room for improvement. A true partnership of equals is still a long way off. One manifestation of that is the different conditions that our participants had to meet to be able to travel to the other country. While the young people from Senegal had to cope with a complex visa process, the German young people only needed a valid passport. Having said that, we as Naturfreunde will not be able to change that situation on our own.