First steps into the new millennium
The history of youthNET started in the year 2000 when Interkulturelles Zentrum launched it as a “quick-start project” within the framework of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. The aim was to contribute to a sustainable dialogue for peace and understanding amongst young people in the countries of the Western Balkans, to support partnerships with NGOs in other parts of Europe, and to strengthen youth work in the region. youthNET was designed to stimulate cross-border and cross-ethnic activities focussing on issues important for a peaceful and prosperous future – such as environmental issues, human rights, formal and non-formal education, intercultural relations, and equal opportunities for men and women. On this basis the work of youthNET has been continued on the base of numerous follow-up projects and its regional focus further increased from Southeast towards Eastern Europe.
SEE & CIS: Strengthening youth
Between 2001 and 2009 three long-term projects have been implemented by Interkulturelles Zentrum with the support of the European Union’s Youth programme and the Austrian Development Cooperation. The focus of “youthNET SEE”, “youthNET CIS” and “youthNET – Creative Partnerships with SEE” lay with strengthening the capacities of different actors in the youth field by connecting them, training them and opening up European perspectives. In the framework of these projects and a number of smaller spin-off projects, more than 150 activities were carried out, such as international conferences, capacity building trainings, contact making seminars, “seed money” and pilot projects, EVS projects, youth exchanges, study visits,… Several hundred civil society organisations and several thousand young people were involved in these activities.
youthNET 2009: A multiregional civil society network
In 2008 the youthNET partner organisations started an initiative to further develop youthNET as a sustainable civil society network. Through the project “youthNET - A network for European SEEtizens / Cooperation support initiative for Central, Eastern and Southeast Europe” they established the common ground for future multiregional cooperation in Europe. On May 11th 2009 a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between 24 partner organisations who continue to work together to fulfil the vision and mission of youthNET. With the new project “Glocal Europe” they have already started to promote youth participation all over the continent and to multiply the experience of various countries and regions. In 2010, 7 new partner organisations joined the network, which by now includes 19 countries.