"Youth" activities of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
The Council of Europe Congress has long been committed to promoting the active participation of young people in civic life as a means of securing social cohesion and anchoring democratic principles in a society based on respect for human rights. This approach was borne out by the adoption of its European Charter on the participation of young people in municipal and regional life in 1992.
But as highlighted in the Congress’ 2012 report on “Youth and democracy: the changing face of youth political engagement”, in the 21st century, young people are engaging differently. There is a wide gap between political institutions’ and young people’s understanding of participation. During the Congress’ 2014 conference on promoting youth participation, it became clear that institutions have difficulty in grasping not only what these new forms of youth participation are but also the issues that mobilise young people. For their part, young people are facing unemployment, job insecurity, difficult transitions to work and adult life. They are increasingly disenchanted and cynical and feel marginalised from the political process.
The active participation of citizens in democratic structures and representative institutions is decisive in guaranteeing the legitimacy, credibility and operation of democratic systems. The Congress is cooperating with young people and local and regional authorities to find a way forward towards achieving the meaningful participation of young people.
Youth participation in local affairs: a key feature of democracy in Ukraine [28/04/2017]
“Sustainable change starts at the local level. Therefore, engaging youth to participate in local affairs is of the upmost importance’’ pointed out Saara Ilvessalo, member of the Congress (Finland, SOC). “It is also the only way to achieve a better and peaceful society”, added Eva Černigoj, member of the Congress (Slovenia, GILD). Sharing their experience as local and regional councillors, both Congress members inspired the 30 young representatives of civil society organisations, media and local authorities from Odessa, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolayiv regions. On this basis, ideas were developed for initiatives to foster citizen engagement for a transparent decision-making and to strengthen local democracy in their community, during the three-day seminar organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.
The seminar was organised in the framework of the project “Promoting local democracy in Ukraine”, which is part of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2015-2017.
Young leaders from Eastern Ukraine engaged for change at local level [07/04/2017]
28 young representatives from local authorities, civil society organisations and media gathered together in Dnipro for three days, to share their views on local democracy and on the reforms in Ukraine. Organised by the Congress, this seminar was an opportunity for participants, from Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk regions, to discuss citizen engagement and ethical local governance together with Congress members and experts from Czech Republic, Lithuania and Ukraine. As a result, proposals were developed by the young local leaders for local actions, which are to bring change in their communities by reinforcing transparency of local authorities, specifically through strengthened citizen participation. The seminar was organised in the framework of the project “Promoting local democracy in Ukraine”, which is part of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2015-2017.
Youth participation central to the debate on the quality of democratic participation at regional level [03/04/2017]
What can be done to make the democratic process more attractive and accessible to young people? For representatives of regional authorities, this is an essential aspect of their efforts to improve the quality of democratic participation at regional level. Action is required at many levels: civic education, consultation, collaboration and joint decision-making. The positive experiences presented during the debate highlighted the importance of youth consultative councils and the leading role of digital technology.