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Values, non-formal education and youth empowerment a conversation with Ramon Rahangmetan, Co-founder of Circle of Sustainable Europe.

Author: Natalia Vasnier


Personal experiences and values often determine how an individual will live their life and shape their career. Attending formal academic education which aligns with personal values, is a common way for young people to build their knowledge before entering the labour market. Yet, more and more young people are building their skills in a non-formal educational setting. This approach is a way to encourage youth empowerment and push them to develop creative strategies to solve problems.


Circle of Sustainable Europe

This is where Ramon Rahangmetan’s experience and works comes in. His journey from his first job working at a local farm in the Netherlands and ‘getting his hand dirty’ during his childhood to co-founding an NGO, the Circle of Sustainable Europe: CoSE, shows how the way his personal experience influenced his career path.


Prior to CoSE, he studied Hospitality Management & Entrepreneurship and became the Chair of the Student Council Board. Following this he decided to venture into Urban Sustainable Development & Business Management – upon taking these courses he became a freelance educator, content creator and accredited EU-lobbyist after co-founding the international non-profit organization Circle of Sustainable Europe based in Brussels, Belgium.

 

The story of the Circle of Sustainable Europe


Ramon’s journey into sustainability stemmed from a non-formal education route. The curiosity around sustainability grew following the ratification of the EU Green Deal and during the green transition. He started his own NGO with like-minded young people to bridge the gap between top-down policymaking and bottom-up community research and activities. This strategy is called reverse lobbying by which lobbying can happen from civil society towards policymakers. Bringing young adults, policymakers, NGOs, entrepreneurs and scholars closer together is deemed essential by Ramon.


CoSE is a platform that offers young people, aged between 18 to 35 years old, valuable opportunities, experiences and trainings within the field of sustainable development. To build their entrepreneurship and leadership skills based on the European Union’s programmes.

 

Their target audience are young adults, who are eligible to European Union projects such as the Erasmus+. The reason for the focus on this demographic is to be able to have individuals who are skilled, adaptable and aware to put in place a long-term strategy.


“In our team, we always ask the people we work with what they envision to become, in order for us to align our objectives, networks and values to their career or entrepreneurial path. This is complemented by the variety of programmes, communities and funds provided to them from the European Union.”

 

Non-formal and informal education


In their proposal projects, CoSE highlights a balance between non-formal, informal & formal learning methodologies in all EU-related priorities in order to work efficiently and stay motivated on real-case community problem-solved thinking and doing. Thereby, creating a sense of belonging for young adults. Non-formal learning place outside traditional education but within another framework of reference, informal learning activities are primarily part of daily-life skills. Both are essential.


The European Union acknowledges the benefits of non-formal and informal learning in increasing social inclusion and empowering young people. This form of learning increases their chances in the labour market, gaining new skills and opens to the door to new opportunities.

“Non-formal education allows more creativity to flourish which is essential for innovative practices and thereby doing things differently, this is the grounding philosophy to move from a linear to a circular economy, encourage social engagement and the better understanding of cultures.”

Circle of Sustainable Europe

CoSE core missions


The NGO has developed three core missions that guide their activities. Firstly, CoSE seeks to provide more opportunities, projects and trainings on their platform by letting young adults participate in European Union’s projects, such as Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps, Horizon Europe Programme or Capacity Building in the Field of Youth. The NGO works in partnership with EU on Erasmus+ whose key action elements are learning mobility of individuals, cooperation for innovation and exchange of good practices, and support for policy reform.

 

Secondly, besides physical exchanges and trainings abroad in other countries. CoSE offers their online platform to content creators that write blogs posts in their fields, create training programs or create graphic designs on CoSE’ website to be used so that they can expand their virtual portfolio and use it in their CV’s. This is a way to encourage non-formal and informal learning.

Thirdly, CoSE informs, assist and teach young adults the role of advocating and lobbying in the European Parliament. These strategies can be useful for a career promotion, addressing a social issue or to expand networks efficiently.

Building resilient communities and individuals

 

To build resilient communities and individuals several actions need to occur, Ramon mentions that “In our CoSE Team; alignment in values and principles; such as respecting others, open-mindedness in perspectives, team work and commitment to take responsibility as a foundation for young leaders. In this way we strive to educate, innovate and advocate others to follow and achieve both personal and collective goals together.”

 

“Policymakers, businesses and international NGOs must work together to reach common sustainability goals with a focus on people’s needs”, Ramon adds.

 

Outlook on the future and advice


CoSE goal is to put more young adults into the decision-making process within the EU and increase the number of entrepreneurs within the sustainability space. “Young people need to utilize their influence, and to understand that where there is chaos, there is opportunity for leadership to be developed.”


When ask if he is an optimist or a pessimist about the future and climate action, Ramon replied, “I’m an optimist; if young adults are given more opportunities and are able to ‘think and re-think’ what they learned, thereby applying these ideas into reality and not focus only on the problem, but more on the solutions. However, I’m a pessimist if young adults have no opportunities, and are only thinking about the problem, complaining about the reality and not applying what they know.”

 

The advice he gives to young people is to look at local NGOs and see how they can help support the work they do. If they can get involved with CoSE, as it provides a platform for young people to build their portfolio, be creative on projects and gain informal knowledge.

 


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Ramon Rahangmetan interviewed by Natalia Vasnier for The Conference Corner. Featured images provided by Ramon Rahangmetan.

 




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