The involvement of young people and the consideration of their needs are of great importance, especially at community level. Young people tend to leave rural areas and migrate to urban regions. A common reason for this is the lack of personal fulfilment, as young people often do not feel represented in their community. At the same time, a lot of decision-makers and politicians are unaware of the benefits a young and active population can bring to a region.
From September to January, the Governance and Youth in the Alps project (GaYA) initiates participatory processes in 15 different pilot areas - from Kranjska Gora in Slovenia to Chambery in France - to strengthen the participation of young people in regional policy and to learn about innovative approaches of participation.
But how can such complex processes be started?
The scope of GaYA's activities consists of trainings and workshops in the individual pilot regions (with different location-specific methods). These are aimed initially at introducing political decision-makers and young people to participatory democracy. This approach will support cooperation between these different actors in the joint participatory decision-making procedures. Diverse processes, from the participatory establishment of youth centres, through participatory budgeting of young people up to the involvement of young people in regional inter-communal governance, are acquired in the workshops and further developed and refined in later meetings.
For this purpose, we use the Participatory Canvas Template developed by the GaYA project. This Participation Canvas is a specially designed process management template for the development and documentation of participation processes. Its aim is to replace long textual descriptions with a clear and easy-to-read layout and by describing the participation processes on a single page, the processes are also easier to understand. The structure also allows quick adaptation and modification of the model so that the elements can be changed and adapted to different needs and circumstances. The Participation Canvas offers a new and different approach to the planning of youth participation processes that ensures comparability between pilot areas and facilitates the exchange of ideas and processes across the Alps.
The introduction of participatory processes is a complex and challenging undertaking and therefore it requires innovative approaches. As a follow-up to the GaYA trainings and workshops, further workshops will be held to discuss, elaborate and develop ideas. To ensure a successful implementation, it is also necessary to conduct regular reality checks with local youth and administrators.
In this way, the decision-makers remain aware of young people's participation in regional policy, and local young people are encouraged to express their needs and to be involved in decisions of their concerns.
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