Challenges and benefits of intergenerational cooperation were discussed as participants of the Young Bled Strategic Forum sat down for the third and final panel dealing with the issue of the rapidly ageing global population.
Drawing on mainly Slovenian experience, the Simbioza Genesis social enterprise working on building a digital society through intergenerational cooperation and active youth participation, was highlighted as an example of good practice.
Ms Tjaša Sobočan of Simbioza Genesis pointed out that the odler people were largely left out of digital society which is why Simibioza was focused on brining it closer to them with the help of young volunteers. According to her, intergenerational cooperation is a two-way process. The young are empowered by the fact that they are teaching the older people, while on the other hand they get to learn about life from their mentees. “Young people are developing the sense of responsibility and this is promoting a trust-based society,” Ms Sobočan added.
This was echoed by Ms Sabina Đuvelek, the programme director of the Association Ypsilon, who added that when addressing intergenerational cooperation it was all about changing the mindsets of both the young as well as the older people. “Intergenerational cooperation and dialogue are not that simple. The issue needs to be spoken about and acted upon. We have found our place in the world, but we must not forget about others,” she pointed out to the 30 or so young leaders participating in the forum.
Mr Jernej Pikalo, professor of Political Science at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences and former Minister of Education, Science and Sports of Slovenia, pointed out in the debate that Slovenia was a two-sided country in digital literacy – on one hand, young people are among the best in digital literacy, while on the other, older people are among the worst. However, intergenerational cooperation is about much more than just digital literacy, he added.
For instance, “pension reform is usually seen as an issue for the older people in Slovenia, but that is not right. In 40 years or so, we’ll all be pensioners. This is why society as such should focus on intergenerational dialogue – about how we want to live in the future, how we want to develop our society.”
Demographic trends in Slovenia, as well as in many other countries, are not sustainable in the long run. “Today, we are deciding for the next 20 or so years,” Mr Pikalo stressed, pointing to the need for including young people in decision-making.
This was gladly taken upon by Mr Tin Kampl, the president of the National Youth Council of Slovenia, who firmly believes that the young should be included in social dialogue as they are those who will be reaping the fruits of today’s efforts. “Political actors must see that the interests of young people are important in the shaping of society,” Mr Kampl stressed.