Thirty young people from the Highlands and Finland will gather in Aviemore today to explore how to attract the next generation of development leaders.
The session is part of the Strengthening Communities Conference Scotland 19, being organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The two-day event has attracted around 300 people from communities across Scotland, England, Norway and the USA.
As well as the youth agenda, delegates will cover a range of hot topics including land ownership, housing, community energy, tourism, culture and heritage, delivery of services and financing.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell is one of three keynote speakers who said she was eager to hear from people of all ages across Scotland and from different countries to learn about their experience.
She said: “It’s really important that we listen to young people and understand how we can encourage greater participation from them in community decision-making. This is a great opportunity for us to support the next generation of community leaders and learn from each other.”
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and Professor Sarah Skerratt, director of policy engagement with Scotland’s Rural College, are the other keynotes looking at what drives community development and innovation.
The theme of the event is Lonnsachadh is fàs le Chèile which means Learning and Growing Together.
It is being supported by the Scottish Government, South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership, Scottish Enterprise, SSE and Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA).Professor Lorne Crerar, chairman of HIE, said: “SCCS19 builds on the success of our inaugural conference 18 months ago. The programme has been designed based on the feedback of the community organisations at the heart of local development. It offers a practical opportunity to share experiences, seek advice and look at new opportunities for social and economic development in the places where we live and work.”
CNPA has organised two fringe events around the conference to explore key local topics. This includes the international youth event.
Grant Moir, chief executive said: “Following the launch of the Europarc Youth Manifesto last September the Cairngorms National Park Authority has committed to establishing a youth council for the park. Giving young people from across the park a voice in decision-making on the urgent issues of the day – from the climate emergency and biodiversity loss to rural services and affordable housing – is key to ensuring we have a sustainable and vibrant park in the future. The fringe events will provide a forum to discuss how we take this forward together with communities and people in the park.”