“Participation in the democratic life of any community is about more than voting or standing for election, although these are important elements. Participation and active citizenship is about having the right, the means, the space and the opportunity and where necessary the support to participate in and influence decisions and engaging in actions and activities so as to contribute to building a better society“
The International Conference on “Youth Policy At Local And Regional Level – Developing Our Territories Through Youth Participation In Decision-Making” took place between 12 -15 April 2016. The conference is the flagship initiative of the members of DYPALL Network in 2016 and their first international event to promote and highlight the importance of developing the quality of youth work done at local level.
The Conference was success. Over 90 people, representatives of youth departments of Municipalities and local authorities, civil society organizations active in the field of youth and youth groups met in Portimão, Portugal, for 4 days of sharing, debating and learning. The members of DYPALL organized the Conference to bring into reflection how local authorities and local CSO active in the field of youth can and should work together to develop local youth policies. Cooperation already exist at national level, and most EU countries consider national youth councils as important structures for developing dialogue between young people and promoting youth participation (EU 2015); however the same processes are rarely developed at local and regional level where youth work actually makes the most difference, supporting young people development, preventing marginalization and promoting true democratic principles.
The event was a space of opportunities for the development of competences of the youth workers, youth leaders, local authorities’ officers responsible for youth on how to enhance youth participation at the local level. DYPALL Members Organizations had the chance to get to know each other, learn about different practices of youth participation implemented all over Europe and did a first step on increasing capacity and awareness of local authorities, youth workers and youth leaders to be able to work with young people and to cooperate for the development of local youth policies that effectively address policy fields that are most relevant for youth today. The Conference tackled 3 main areas:
- youth participation
- employment, entrepreneurship & economic development
- inclusion and youth with fewer opportunities
Overall, it consisted of a number of non-formal education activities using various methodologies along with expert presentations and keynote speeches, roundtables, workshops, and networking activities. In the morning, the topic of the day was presented to the plenary group through the inputs given by experts and practitioners who introduced local experiences and good practices. In the afternoon, participants divided themselves into smaller groups that had the space to discuss projects into more details, reciprocally sharing their activities and learning from each other. The programme was facilitated by a team of experienced trainers, who, through non-formal education techniques, facilitated the various sessions and helped participants connecting and getting to know each other.
Participants from non-members organization were also present to find out more about DYPALL and who knows? maybe joining the network in the near future!
The final report will be out soon, in the meantime, you can learn more about the Conference and check the photos on Facebook.
 The revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, May 2003.