STUDY VISIT TO BELGIUM “Youth policies for better local democracies”

DYPALL Network’s study visit titled “Youth policies for better local democracies” took place from 17th – 21st October 2022 in Belgium.

During the week, we had the chance to visit various municipalities and organisations around Flanders and Wallonia and learn about their practices and approaches to youth participation in decision-making at the local level.

The Study visit started with the visit to Bataljong, a network of experts in the field of local policy for children and young people. They support municipalities around Flanders in setting up local youth council, creating local youth policies or applying for the label of child-friendly cities. During this visit we got an overview of how local youth councils work in Flanders and what are some of the opportunities and challenges the municipalities are facing when it comes to youth participation.

Following that, we paid a visit to the municipality of Zwijndrecht, one of the municipalities that Bataljong supports, and we visited their youth house and learned about their youth council comprised of representatives of youth movements.

The next part of our Study visit took us to the region of Wallonia where we were hosted by our partner CRECCIDE who shared with us their approach in supporting municipalities related to youth topics. This visit coincided with the official launching of the publication “Local youth councils – Mapping practices” done by DYPALL Network in cooperation with CRECCIDE (Belgium), Città di Collegno (Italy), Krapinsko-Zagorska Županija (Croatia) and Mladinski svet Ajdovščina (Slovenia). This publication gathers information regarding various aspects of the local youth councils (LYC), such as its composition, organization, goals, resources available, and other relevant information. Also, it compiles the inside perspectives regarding importance, effectiveness, youth representation, and impact for ten LYCs from five countries.

We also had the opportunity to visit the Youth Council of Walcourt, a small town in which we talked with youth representatives about what motivates them to get engaged in the youth council and we participated in an environmental action they were organizing.

The final part of our program was dedicated to Tree company and the Municipality of Sint-Niklaas. Tree company, that already cooperated with DYPALL Network on “Digital participation tools for youth engagement in local governance” project, shared their inspiring approach to finding digital solutions for municipalities who want to engage young people in participatory and democratic processes. They also presented their new concept of “phygital” – in-person processes that incorporate digital technology.

Lastly, in the Municipality of Sint-Niklaas, we were welcomed by the Councilor for youth and municipal officers for youth and participation who took us for a bicycle ride around their city and showed us different youth spaces. They also presented their interesting practice of youth participatory budget under the slogan “Young, wild, golden”.

The Study visit was very fruitful and served as a space for discussion, inspiration and exchange. The main objectives of the study visit were fully achieved, namely:

  • Explore and learn about youth policies and models of youth participation at the local level around Belgium
  • Discover innovative strategies to support youth workers in broadening youth participation in their own realities
  • Exchange good practices and reflect on the potential of different approaches to engaging young people at the local level
  • Reflect on the challenges faced by the different organisations focusing on their local solutions
  • Expand the network and build new synergies around Europe

This study visit was organised by DYPALL Network with the support of Erasmus+ programme through Portuguese National agency.


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