Make room for young people!

Statutory Forum Strasbourg, France 12 February 2021
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Make room for young people!

On 12 February 2021, the Congress adopted a report on the role of local and regional authorities in promoting the work of young people - valuable and legitimate partners of public authorities in creating a more inclusive and democratic society.

The Congress is already actively engaged in promoting youth participation within its own institution: one youth delegate per country is invited to attend each session alongside delegation members.

Prepared by the Congress rapporteurs in conjunction with the Advisory Council on Youth, the report provides an analysis of the importance of youth work in member States, with examples of good practice on how this work should be supported at local and regional level. Indeed, as Co-Rapporteur Ilsur Metshin (Russian Federation, ILDG) pointed out, “The COVID-19 crisis has revealed how essential youth work is for our communities”. Hence, the awareness of elected officials of their particular responsibility to create spaces suitable for youth work, is being jeopardised by the pandemic. Ilsur Metshin insisted on the fact that the revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life, as well as the adoption of the "Enter!" project on the access to social rights for young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods (2015), have already involved the Congress in the development of concrete policies for the integration of young people into local democracy structures. The aim is therefore to strengthen this process through new and more ambitious ideas.

“Local and regional authorities must invite young people to express their views on the future of our communities and take an active part in the governance process,” said Co-Rapporteur Thomas Andersson (Sweden, ILDG). “In this report, we ask them to give a significant place to youth work by setting measurable objectives, but also by providing special funds for projects to create meeting and training facilities, especially for marginalised young people”. To this end, the report proposes that the Congress should help local authorities to apply for the Council of Europe quality label for local youth centres, while asking the European Youth Foundation to fund certain pilot activities. The creation of infrastructures adapted to the specific needs of different communities, from large cities to small villages, is essential for young people to become actors of the local life. The report stresses the need to reach out to different groups of young people, depending on their habitat, interests, etc., in order to create a real sense of involvement. The fight against all forms of discrimination, including gender violence, is also a condition for the success of these policies.

Youth delegate Gianluca Rossino (Italy) supported the adoption of the report, particularly with regard to the integration of young people in the field of informal education and peer training, as well as the implementation of policies to combat gender violence.

The governor of the Attica region in Greece, Rena Dourou (SOC/G/PD), congratulated the report as a formidable toolkit, which local and regional authorities could use to overcome the health crisis by integrating young people's vision of the future. As noted by the governor of the Leningrad region, Alexander Drozdenko (Russian Federation, EPP/CCE), many young people have volunteered for social and medical services during the pandemic. The example of the local youth councils in Germany, provided by Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE), also illustrated the idea that young people can take over the affairs of the city when they are allowed to do so in an appropriate setting. Finally, Tamar Taliashvili (Georgia, SOC/G/PD) underlined the importance that the chairmanships of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, including the Georgian chairmanship of 2019, have attributed to the strengthening of youth participation in the political process.

Supported and adopted by Congress delegates, the report also urges national authorities to support local and regional authorities in developing specific tools for documenting and monitoring youth work.

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