Cities for youth conference-Iceland
From 19. ’till 20. March at Reykjavik, Cities For Youth Conference was held in Reykjavik, Iceland. EURAD representative Boro Goić, attended a conference with other 100 guests from 12 countries, some of them were government representatives and others from the NGO sector.
The main focus of the two days was to spread ideas and information about Iceland’s program of prevention which was successfully implemented at Reykjavik, during the last 15 years. From 1998, when the substance use problems of young people were first recognised in Iceland, they had one of the worst rates of substance use in Europe (drugs,alcohol and tobacco) and it was this that made the city of Reykjavik and its citizens to take action.
Iceland established institutes for research on substance use in order to carefully track what was happening and to better understand the local issues and on a practical level, the prevention programmes which were then introduced made sure to include parents. After that the NGO sector included parents in their educational programmes and carried out programmes which addressed issues like how to relate to their children on these issues. Sports associations had big part in the prevention programme which targeted the youth as they provided with for example free access to leisure facilities. The government also introduced new laws to help reduce drug, alcohol and tobacco use.
All these combined measures and actions resulted in Reykjavik becoming one of cities with the lowest rate of alcohol, nicotine and drug use, with a steady decline over the last 15 years. Maybe the most important take home message from the conference was the role of will to tackle the issue and the collective efforts of many different agencies (from NGOs, social workers, sports associations etc). This is a great example for other cities that have problem like this, legislation can be taken, individuals can be active but the biggest impact is of great will and common interest.