A common challenge for the four countries in the Barents Region – Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden – is youth emigration. Better educational opportunities, attractive jobs and a richer social environment are some of the factors that cause young people in these countries to move towards the capitals. For the Barents Region, this leads to a loss of human capital, competence and negative demographic trends. In order to ensure a positive, sustainable development in the Barents Region, youth must be a priority. Young people must have access to relevant studies and jobs, which will allow them to build their professional careers without having to leave the Barents Region. They also need platforms where they can meet other youth and build networks within their interest fields, along with opportunities to attend exciting leisure events activities.
The Barents Regional Youth Council (BRYC) is an association of 15 youth representatives from Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland, promoting opportunities for youth living in the north while facilitating dialogue and contacts across national borders. BRYC was established in 2004 and has been an important driving force in the people-to-people cooperation between the young people in the Barents Region. Since 2006, BRYC has hosted international hits for youth in the Barents Region with the purpose of creating an arena for networking, dialogue, knowledge exchange and cooperation. A good network enables young people to share experiences and create something together. That is why it is crucial for these youths to have an international arena such as BRYC.
By 2018, BRYC has expanded their project activity. The aim is to organize new youth projects that will contribute to concrete results in areas such as employment, innovation, health and culture. BRYC has already identified four specific youth projects that will be implemented in the next two years in collaboration with other key actors. Besides, in 2018 BRYC became formally a part of the Barents Cooperation structure as a regional working group, supported by all 14 Barents regions.
For the past 14 years, many talented and passionate young volunteers have been involved in the BRYC’s work. Many of these individuals are now grown up and have jobs related to the Barents Cooperation or other leading positions: politicians, senior officials in regional administrations, business people, project managers, etc. When asked about their professional experience with BRYC, they are basically the same: "BRYC has given us a valuable experience and professional training, knowledge about other cultures, cross-border networks and friends for life! There’s something about the common identity and the sense of belonging you feel when you meet the BRYC family. This is the most powerful and important aspect of the Barents Youth Cooperation, and one that must be carried forward in the future".