02

"NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL SOMETHING MOVES"

Encouragement and empowerment

03

"WE BUILD TOO MANY WALLS AND NOT ENOUGH BRIDGES"

Diversity, inclusion and access

04

"THERE IS A BETTER WAY
TO DO IT — FIND IT"

Prosperity, social and economic innovation

05

"EVERYONE YOU WILL EVER MEET KNOWS SOMETHING YOU DON’T"

SOURCE OF INFORMATION/NEW FORMS
OF GOVERNANCE

06

"PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE"

SAFETY AND PREVENTION

01

SUSTAINABLE AND ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS LIVING

We are currently in the era of problems of global scale. Adaptation and mitigation demand full cooperation between citizens of all ages— it is a question of our survival. Technologies and solutions based on innovation and resource saving are currently the driving force in urban development. To reduce the consumption of resources means not only reducing  CO2 emissions, but also saving our money, creating better and safer living conditions and healthier lifestyle for all of us.

However, first comes awareness, and then comes action. And sometimes it is the other way around. “Education beats at the heart of the sustainability,” thus awareness rising and showing example and communicating the significance and impact of different choices to young people is of the utmost importance. For example, do you decide to purchase a car or not? Or what do you eat every day? It is often not really clear how significant some decisions and choices may be compared to others. On top of that, the individual capabilities to act have to be enhanced to lead to real action and change. At the end of the day, climate change is not that much a question of nature but rather of human life and life as we know it. 

CASE

The Climate Street project seeks for solutions that decrease citizens’ energy consumption on a street level and increase the liveability and vitality of an urban area. The street will be used as a test-bed for new resource-efficient, low-carbon services and products, and it functions as a reference area for both businesses and the city. Businesses will get an opportunity to test and develop their solutions together with the end users.

MUNICIPALITY

  • Provides for policy integration between national and local levels, between different policy sectors and implements actions to empower and engage the society.
  • Creates an urban development plan, which is integrated into the common strategy.

Sustainable Urban Development in the European Union: A Framework for Action:

SCHOOLS

  • Inform about the importance of environmentally responsible living. It is crucial but do not stop here!
  •  Make recycling a common everyday practice.
  • Encourage students to ride their bikes to school and build amenities for parking.
  • Teach simple energy-saving tips students can use at home.
  • Reduce food waste in the canteen, if possible create outdoor sites such as community gardens and implement other fun projects.
  • Incorporate sustainability ideas in regular classes.
  • Inform students on global issues and introduce the idea of “think globally, act locally”.


Find plenty of environmentally conscious project ideas here: 

YOUTH ORGANISATIONS

  • Promote environmentally responsible lifestyles by not only providing environmental arguments but also highlighting the fun part of them (for example, driving bicycle is healthy and fun).
  • Organise events to promote the use of recycled materials and teach ways how to save resources.
  • Organise urban gardening, which teaches responsibility and increase awareness of organic food and necessity to reduce food waste.    
READ MORE

02

ENCOURAGEMENT AND EMPOWERMENT

CASE

In Finland local governments are obliged to set up a youth council or other body that represents young people in the municipal decision-making process. The most common way to achieve this is to establish youth councils or similar bodies, web-based channels, and through structures established at schools and youth facilities. In 2017, all the municipalities in Finland need to have a youth council.

READ MORE

MUNICIPALITY

  • Ensures that there is a strategy and youth policy in place at the national as well as municipal level. The task of youth policy should be enabling youth to have a good and meaningful life, capabilities to influence one’s own life, and equal rights and opportunities to participate in the society, and good standard of living.
  • Organises an open day and meetings between municipality representatives and youth to discuss the policy openly.

Find out about the youth policy toolkit and how to become a European youth capital:    

SCHOOLS

  • Ensure that there is a student representative body at the school with actual decision making power and possibility to start an action.
  • Set up teacher-student partnership enabling both sides to work together towards better fitting solutions.
  • Create opportunity for pupils to pitch their ideas for a better school, and implement the best ideas together.

YOUTH ORGANISATIONS

  • Take part in the EU programmes, which are great opportunity to launch youth empowering projects.
  • Organise training programmes to ignite the potential of the organisation.
  • Appreciate volunteers and establish formal volunteering recognition system.
  • Lobby the youth-friendly politics in the municipalities.
READ MORE

03

DIVERSITY, INCLUSION AND ACCESS

Each and every person regardless of his/her nationality, gender, religion, socio-economic level or disabilities has a right to participate fully in social, economic, cultural, and political life.

We all know that, right? In reality, however, many young people struggle to fight exclusion based on seemingly much more trivial and often overlooked reasons: violence; educational underachievement and unemployment; family illness and lack of family spport; running away, substance abuse, criminality and criminalisation. Such issues may be more prevalent especially in urban areas and neighbourhoods. Yet, deliberately designed urban spaces can wreak physical and imaginative barriers between people encouraging cooperation instead of confrontation.

Access to mobility, the right to commute equally in urban settings, is a basic rights issue, a problem often found in urban design while also essential for fostering ecologically sound, efficient and enjoyable ways to commute in cities. A huge majority of cities are designed primarily for cars rather than bicycles, other means of mobility and pedestrians. Ecological and progressive city planning is a central tool to affect the mobility systems in a city.

CASE

The Escolhas Programme is a national programme in Portugal designed to promote the social inclusion. The programme selects and funds local projects that develop actions aimed at promoting the social inclusion of young people. Each project addresses at least one of the five strategic areas of intervention: school inclusion and non-formal education; vocational training and employment; community work and citizenship; digital inclusion; and entrepreneurship.

MUNICIPALITY

  • Ensures that there is a proper policy framework of inclusion in place that goes beyond just policy rhetoric.
  • Is aware of what is actually happening on the ground: an evidence-based policy making proves to be an efficient tool in youth work.
  • Collaborates with youth organisations and schools to get the information about the social challenges of youth.

SCHOOLS

  • Avoid the competitive school environment, which essentially divides students in winners and losers, thus leading to increased exclusion of those with difficulties to learn.
  • Ensure equity rather than equality in the school.
  • Try Storientation — enhance the classroom and foster emotional intelligence by sharing and learning stories of self, others and the organisation.
  • Put special effort into increasing capabilities of teachers to identify the problematic issues at early stage.
  • Ensure that all students have access to school counselling. 
  • Create a help desk for parents to seek advice if necessary.

Read more how many problems a youngster faces are due to family- and environment-related issues, thus learning more about a person really can make a difference:

YOUTH ORGANISATIONS

Engage young people in the organisation’s activities and pay special attention to inclusion of the ones who need it the most. Organise storytelling events to raise common understanding and appreciation of diverse experiences, or even try something like the Theatre of the Oppressed.

READ MORE

04

PROSPERITY, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INNOVATION

Learning by doing fosters comprehension and fortifies knowledge. When a person creates something unique it ignites the passion and responsibility for the result. All young people should benefit from at least one practical entrepreneurial experience before leaving compulsory education. Entrepreneurial skills contribute to not only new business creation but also the employability of young people. Youth are great at voicing fresh ideas and previously unthought-of approaches to global challenges. In Finland, for instance, consumer services, which make it easier for people to adopt sustainable lifestyles by solving common problems, are blooming. Moreover, youth are early adapters of new products and services and they are experts in the possible solutions to their problems.

CASE

Dobry Rovar is a DIY bicycle sharing system in Minsk, Belarus. It was started out by locals gathering broken bikes from people who were not interested in repairing or keeping them for their own good but were willing to share the bikes with others. The sharing system is built on trust — people use bikes for free, then drop them off somewhere in the city and tag the new location on the project’s website for others to see. It is an example of a grass roots sharing economy initiative that now has drawn attention from several sponsoring companies providing bikes, parking locks and other tools.

MUNICIPALITY

  • Cooperates and creates networks with youth organisations, interest groups and NGOs. These institutions are often scattered all over and lack support and opportunities to cooperate.
  • Creates co-working spaces specifically designed for such organisations, or incorporates them to work alongside entrepreneurs and experts, who can really facilitate innovations.
  • Provides easily understandable guides on how to start a business, and counselling and support for implementing ideas.
  • Promotes recognition for youth enterprises and organisations.

Developing the creative and innovative potential of young people through non-formal learning in ways that are relevant to employability:

SCHOOLS

  • Forget the passive learning: The world is changing rapidly — the society is facing wicked problems such as poverty and climate change, and work environment is very different from the one just a decade ago. To keep up with the pace, schools need to have new teaching methods. 
  • Include entrepreneurship, design thinking and project-based learning (PBL) in the formal education. PBL is a dynamic approach of working together in which students explore real-world problems, acquire 21st century skills, and are encouraged to become critical thinkers and lifelong learners.

YOUTH ORGANISATIONS

  • Cooperate with other NGOs and for-profit companies: change-making is contagious and sparks when practiced together with other like-minded people. 
  • Promote non-formal education. 
  • Make networking events for local activists. 
  • Try out asset mapping, which is a tool to identify the community’s strength using design and graphics.    

The total of young people not in employment, education or training, is currently around 14 million in the EU.  The annual economic loss to society is estimated  at  €162  billion  (Eurofound, 2013), in addition to the long term personal and social costs.

READ MORE

05

SOURCE OF INFORMATION / NEW FORMS OF GOVERNANCE

Young people have a unique experience and knowledge, and certain views and ideas derive from it. They have skills and abilities to bring constructive solutions to the problems affecting them and change their own lives for better. However, institutions way too often fail to recognise the value of young people’s contributions. It is crucial to acknowledge and to openly show support to young people’s initiatives to encourage them to share their knowledge. Not only for the sake of young people, but especially because for institutions this information can be very useful for institutions and unavailable by other means.

CASE

YouthBank in Ireland is a unique way of involving young people in grant-making within their local community. It is a youth-led activity meaning that only young people make up the grant committee. The funding distributed by these decision-making committees supports projects designed and run by young people that address issues and concerns relevant to them and their community.

MUNICIPALITY

  • Develops easily accessible online and/or mobile database that youth can contribute to by, for instance, creating a personal profile and submitting ideas and suggestions. Keeps the database updated.
  • Creates forums and gets municipality representatives to engage with the youth. 
  • Organises events, where officials and young people really meet each other.
  • Engages youth in budgeting and implementation of their ideas.
  • Communicates why to engage youth, the process of co-creation and the results.

SCHOOLS

  • Start from the basics: take measures to find out from students themselves what is needed to improve environment at school, which teaching methods work and what factors contribute to school absenteeism.
  • Set up meetings with students, put a “suggestion box” in the hallway or explore more innovative survey options to gather information more efficiently.

YOUTH ORGANISATIONS

  • Bring the youth on board! If youth is the target group of your organisation, be sure to include at least several young people in your organisation. Ensure that they have actual decision-making power and possibility to implement their ideas.
  • Establish a youth programme to write an annual report on young people’s welfare to the city council.
  • Involve young people not only on project basis but as an integral and permanent part of the organisation.
  • Create options for youth engagement that are not limited only to volunteers, members, interns or even staffing. 
READ MORE

06

SAFETY AND PREVENTION

Safety in the city is a shared matter between all stakeholders ranging from the municipality leaders to young people, the latter ones often being the ones that cause problems as well as suffer from them the most. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, and sometimes something as simple as putting on streetlights can make a difference.

CASE

Alex Square in Sarkandaugava. Until 2014, Sarkandaugava neighbourhood in Riga was a non-place having a negative and very biased image — post-soviet, post-industrial, working class neighbourhood with dangerous and unpleasant environment. The square was devastated, derelict and blank spot in the central part of neighbourhood, lacking even basic maintenance. 

Following an initiative of a group of urbanists, architects and cultural workers, Alex Square became the first showcase in Riga for a public space changing its image.

The group of urban activists initiated the first design-driven, participatory project revealing the capabilities of local people with direct hands-on methods towards making significant spatial improvement.

Alex Square, which is characterised as a pocket space, gained new identity and attracted various cultural players with a wide range of artistic and urban pilot projects happening in the neighbourhood that served as an amplifier for changing the image of the whole Sarkandaugava neighbourhood. Now nobody asks where Sarkandaugava is, everyone knows that it is where Alex Square is.

MUNICIPALITY

Establishes a monitoring system to track the perceived safety of areas to find the most dangerous yet perhaps overlooked places, and provides space-specific solutions. Safety issues vary from city to city, and even among different neighbourhoods and streets within them myriad of specific problems can be found. One way to monitor is the Safety Index Model created in Rotterdam:

SCHOOLS

  • Remember a very important role of schools in safety improvements and crime prevention: combating bullying at school is a step towards violence reduction in the community. 

Discourage shaming and punishment, because they do not work. Instead, try a peer-programme, changing structure of school classrooms and reward more helpful behaviours 

 

Or try the Finnish approach that uses virtual learning methods and enlists high-status peers as defenders of those who are being bullied

YOUTH ORGANISATIONS

  • Exploit rather abandoned places to organise some events. It may turn around the perception of it. 
  • Instead of setting up an event in the main square, choose a more distant or unconventional location. 
  • Attract local youngsters to remodel a place creating the sense of ownership and hence reduced vandalism.

Read more about the Latvian experience in a neighbourhood:

READ MORE

YOUTH IS 100% OF OUR FUTURE. FUTURE STARTS TODAY.

Around 15% of the EU population is under the age of 24. Exactly 100% of them is our future. Not only are they the leaders of the future, but also their current contribution to the society should not be underestimated. 73% of Europeans live in urban areas, and the number is growing. Urbanisation defines the 21st century and leads the world towards prosperity. This is mainly due to innovations and cities having a pivotal role in the economy. Youth is what leads the urbanisation. In a strongly urban world cities have become and will increasingly be the site where the majority of CO2 emissions are produced. This means that cities play a key role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moreover, young urban residents are perhaps the single most important group, which will be able to affect, for example climate change, urban and national policies, economic activities, social movements. That is why they are so important to us.

So, why bother engaging youth in particular? By encouraging youth and fostering social inclusion community can be strengthened, and in turn it may increase prosperity and foster social and economic innovation. Moreover, youth can be an active agent of change today to lead the society towards more sustainable living, as well as new and more efficient ways to fight climate change. Using young people’s knowledge, experience and their unique way of seeing things municipalities can gather information in innovative ways on issues that actually matter to the society easier and faster. Improved sense of belonging and ownership may improve the sense of responsibility and thus safety.

The success of the future local governance lies in the ability to create and manage networks; the future prosperity of the local governance is totally participatory. Youth should play a key role in these networks and must be considered not only as the future leaders, but rather as today’s decision-makers and experts of urban realities. However, youth is often seen rather as a problem than a solution. Adults tend to emphasise that youth are loud, ruin public spaces with graffiti and skateboarding. Such stigmatisation may stem from a simple cause — lack of simple instruments and knowledge on how to work with youth. Thus, a little guidance for municipalities, schools and youth organisations may come in handy for working alongside with young people.