This project takes the idea of youth policy dialogue back to first principles: it is a policy dialogue about policy dialogue.
A variety of forums and events enable young people to engage with policy makers, on both youth-specific and general issues. National and international youth parliaments, municipal youth councils, youth boards of charities, student unions and school councils, all present different models of engagement. The Erasmus+ programme also funds policy dialogue events (such as this project). The European Parliament, European Youth Forum, UNESCO and many other bodies fund ad hoc or annual international youth conferences, some of which are generously funded and attract high profile speakers.
Young people have much to gain from taking part in these activities, including development of transferable skills, increased self confidence, intercultural learning, and at best, the opportunity to make a difference. However, both major events and longer term structures inevitably attract well educated and articulate young people; they can become an end in themselves as training grounds for future politicians. Those with the greatest need to be heard are often the least likely to participate. Politicians in particular may have ulterior motives for being seen to engage with young people, which can make this tokenistic.
Among the many varieties of youth policy dialogue, a core question stands out: how to give young people a voice that is consistent, effective and sustainable. This also involves the question of where, when and how such dialogue should happen. Younger and older generations largely inhabit different real and virtual spaces, so the things being said in one space may go unheard, or be lost in translation, in another. Different age groups have different expectations and different styles of working and communicating. Each can be uncomfortable in the other’s territory: adults attempting to participate in youth culture risk appearing false or condescending; but expecting young people to “comply and conform” is authoritarian and off-putting. Adults may hold most of the power and resources, but young people have knowledge and experience that is essential to effective decision-making. A “structured dialogue” (to use the European term) also requires intermediaries, so youth workers have a key role – which raises further questions about capacity, skills and training.
The “Turning Points” project will bring together young people, decision makers and intermediaries to consider these questions, share experience and recommend approaches to policy dialogue in general.
PROJECT DATES & VENUES
Residential (conference + action planning): 10-17 August 2022, 8 days including travel.
Travel: €275 Estonia, Hungary, Italy, N. Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain
Participation fee: €50
CILL / Momentum World is assisting NYA with the application, delivery and technical administration of the project