Young ambassadors from around Europe will be taking part in EUROCITIES 2018 Edinburgh to discuss and learn and take ideas and insights back to their home cities. Here we get to know Karl Mattias Sepp from Tallinn, Artyom Lipin from Riga and Emma Procee from Groningen, to discover why they think young people should be given a voice, how they would improve their own cities and what they would like to say to the president of EUROCITIES.
Tell us about yourself
Karl Mattias: I’m a positive yet sometimes sceptical young man always keen for new experiences and finding opportunities to learn.
Artyom: I am a teacher with many hobbies outside work. I attend a theatre studio, play guitar, write songs, make videos, organise exchanges and more.
Emma: I graduated in sociology of health, care and wellbeing from the university of Groningen. I did an internship in health insurance policy and now work as a trainee community coordinator for the municipality of Groningen. In my personal life I love to play volleyball and travel the world.
Why did you want to be a young ambassador for your city?
KM: I want to speak for young people from my city because I think some problems are universal and not exclusive to Tallinn. I expect to gain new insights into different solutions that concern young people all over Europe.
A: I think there is a lot that young people can do to improve life in cities. Unfortunately they usually have no say in what is happening. I hope this can be changed via this project.
E: I started my traineeship in March this year so I know some things about my department and municipality but I’m not fully established. I see this as an advantage because my scope is not fixed but flexible. I think I also represent our young city, where the average age is 36, better than my older colleagues. I expect to learn from the other young ambassadors and from the experts.
What message would you send to the president of EUROCITIES and mayor of Ghent, Daniel Termont?
KM: I hope we get to have great discussions about politics, ambitions and fears.
A: My only wish is that this project will have some real impact on cities' politics. If there is the possibility to assure this, that would be great.
E: Thank you for giving young people a voice. It’s important, especially in our young municipality, to listen to young inhabitants. We are taking steps in the right direction but it’s a challenge, so it’s a good thing to take these steps in all of Europe together!
What one thing do you really like about your city?
KM: I really like the fact that Tallinn can be cosmopolitan and rural at the same time. You can enjoy the best of both worlds.
A: I suppose, and this might not be original, I love the people of Riga. I love the feel, the atmosphere of Riga, which could be described as a cup of tea that warms up the whole body!
E: I have lived in a small city below Groningen all my life. Since I can ride a bike, I really love to go to Groningen on my bike, see all the different people - the students, ‘stadjers’ (inhabitants) and tourists - enjoying our great city. It doesn’t matter what time it is or if it’s cold or hot, it’s always ‘gezellig’ (cosy/sociable), with people doing their grocery shopping or going out and drinking and eating.
What three items would you take to a desert island?
KM: A water filter, a Swiss knife and a book: how to survive on a desert island for dummies!
A: Water and food supply. A knife. A lot of paper and pens.
E: A good friend. Dutch cheese. A board/card game
What three things would you do if you were mayor of your city for a day?
KM: Create paying positions for our Youth Council, different boards with young members. Provide excellent mental health services for everybody. Invest massively in infrastructure that could be used for recreation and for housing.
A: More jobs for homeless people. Cleaner streets - perhaps this could be a job for homeless people. More green areas.
E: Take steps to make an undivided city where everyone can live at a normal standard. Organise a big and free festival where people can unite. Make sure that local politics and the city hall feel more accessible, through language and dress code for example.
How would you complete this sentence: ‘My Europe in 2030 will…'?
KM: …be integrated to the degree that people won't have prejudices about different cultures, religions, sexualities, genders etc.
A: …be free of xenophobia and open to new experience and new people.
E: ...be less divided and more united but with the culture and habits of the different countries preserved.