Study visit to Iceland “Innovation for Youth Participation in EU Outermost Regions”


The Study visit to Iceland “Innovation for Youth Participation in EU Outermost Regions” took place from 6th – 10th May. The initiative aimed to explore innovative youth engagement practices and policies, providing participants with firsthand experience of Iceland’s good practices for enhancing youth participation in democratic processes.

In Reykjavik, participants were introduced to the municipality’s education policy that focuses on developing key skills in children and teenagers for meaningful participation. The integration of Youth Centers with schools is a significant aspect of Reykjavik’s approach that the participants noticed. Moreover, the Human Rights and Democracy office in Reykjavik presented their Democracy Policy (2021-2030) and action plan (2021-2024), aimed at increasing civic engagement and addressing the decline in voter turnout. Key features include a consultation portal for residents and various councils, such as the Reykjavik Youth Council, which fosters active youth participation in local governance.

In Arborg, the participants observed a unique integration of all leisure and youth work under a single department, streamlining efforts to support youth development. The municipality’s innovative approach includes youth clubs tailored for different needs, offering specialised support for children with disabilities and those facing social challenges. Participants had an opportunity to see how the Youth Council of Arborg plays a significant role in local governance, with representatives actively participating in municipal committees and initiatives, ensuring that young voices are heard and considered in decision-making processes.

The study visit also included meetings with Icelandic national youth organisations, such as Samfés, known for its high participation rates and effective youth engagement strategies. Participants learned about the organisation’s structure and its role in fostering communication and cooperation among youth centres across Iceland. The insights gained from these interactions provided valuable perspectives on successful youth programmes and potential collaboration opportunities for future projects under the Erasmus+ framework.

One of the highlights of the visit was the exploration of the “Better Reykjavik” project, recognised by OECD-OPSI as an Innovative Case Study. This project showcases the potential of digital tools and AI in enhancing civic engagement through agenda-setting, participatory budgeting, and policymaking. 

The study visit to Iceland underscored the importance of community-based approaches to youth participation. The comprehensive support systems, participatory policies, and innovative engagement strategies observed in Reykjavik and Arborg offer valuable lessons for enhancing youth involvement in democratic processes. DYPALL Network is committed to integrating these insights into its efforts to promote youth engagement across Europe, particularly in areas facing geographical and demographic challenges.

The study visit to Iceland was a profound learning experience that reinforced the importance of collaborative efforts in formulating effective youth policies. The interactions and observations made during the visit highlighted the necessity of practical, hands-on approaches to youth participation and the value of ongoing research into methods of democratic engagement.

Moving forward, DYPALL Network aims to foster long-lasting partnerships with Icelandic organisations and explore further opportunities for collaboration. The knowledge gained from this visit will significantly inform the network’s strategies for promoting youth engagement and enhancing democratic participation in various regions.

The study visit was organised by DYPALL Network in cooperation with the Center for Educational Innovation team of the Department of Education and Youth of the City of Reykjavik, and funded by EEA Grants-Active Citizens Fund.

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