5.5 National strategy to increase youth participation
Existence of a national strategy to increase young people’s political and civil participation
As highlighted by the approval of Law 145/2018, the current government has focused on establishing a specific youth representation body (the National Youth Council) to ensure and increase the participation of young people in civil and political life. The law established by the council therefore represents a strategic document, which its main objective - in addition to ensuring the representation of young people - is to spread and increase youth participation.
The strategy on the theme of participation is also designed, as well as for all policies in favour of young people on which there is a shared competence between the state and the regions, through the agreement between the two parties and other territorial actors (ANCI and UPI). This agreement represents a form of institutional dialogue between the government and local authorities in which the financial resources, objectives and priorities for intervention in the field of youth policies are defined.
Every year, during the “Unified Conference”, the Government, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces, by signing a formal agreement, establish the frame of reference for the objectives to be achieved and the projects dedicated to young people to be developed, including activities that promote their participation in political and social life. The agreements contents’ coherence (objectives, economic resources and intervention priorities) that have followed one another over the last 6 years clearly define the strategic plan adopted by the Italian institutions on youth policies.
In the agreement of 13 February 2019 (Cf.CU-14/2019), one of the agreed priorities was “the promotion of an inclusive participation in the social and political way, also in order to allow young people to participate in the decision-making process and to be able to direct policies addressed to a target audience”. Following the agreement, the Department for Youth Policy and the Universal Civic Service, as the authority responsible for the connection of youth policies, has signed collaboration agreements with each Region, through which the objectives to be achieved, in accordance with the Agreement, the methods of monitoring the interventions proposed by the local administrations and the transfer of resources from the National Fund for youth policies were ruled. The collaboration agreement contains the regional project, which can also have a two-year duration, which also indicates the indicators of achievement and/or impact.
On 29 January 2020, the Government, the Regions, the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano and the Local Authorities signed the Agreement on the distribution of the “National Fund for Youth Policies” for the year 2020.
With reference to the quota allocated to the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces, the new agreement sets the following priorities:
- the inclusive participation of young people in the social and political life of the territories in order, among other things, to allow them to participate in the decision-making process and to be able to guide policies aimed at the target audience;
- projects that meet the expectations of autonomy and fulfilment of young people that promote active and direct participation in cultural and sporting activities, including through the use of the National Youth Card;
- guidance activities and dissemination of good practices, aimed at the prevention of youth discomfort in its various forms and with particular reference to the prevention of the phenomenon of new addictions affecting the younger generations.
The regions are fundamental actors in promoting the active participation of young people through the tool provided by various regional laws. Many municipalities have also developed local projects (for example, the municipal councils for youth) to involve more young people in the public life of cities.
Youth associations are another important tool for the expression and exercise of youth participation, often involved by public, regional and municipal administrations, through selection calls for the development of project ideas (Cf. 4.4).
Scope and contents
The described system of institutional collaboration between the state and local autonomies supports the development of a considerable number of territorial interventions, defined and developed by the administrations with the involvement of youth associations and third sector.
The contents of these localized interventions about participation vary in relation to the needs of the local communities and can be divided into these macro areas:
Knowledge of the functioning of state and regional institutions, their participatory processes and related bodies.
Promotion of values and attitudes to become responsible citizens.
Development of critical thinking about different life contexts and content offered by mass media and social media.
Promotion of active participation in school and local communities.
Development of relationships that reinforce the dimension of trust, a sense of belonging and a sense of community.
Promotion of representation and active citizenship, experimenting with new forms and opportunities for participation.
Promotion of opportunities to encourage co-planning between different actors, making young people the main actors in the project conception phase.
Responsible authority for the implementation of the strategy
The authority responsible for youth policy is the Department for Youth Policy and the Universal Civic Service.
As described above, the national strategy is designed by the state, regions and local autonomies agreement, which is signed every year at the Unified Conference. The strategy aims to achieve a common purpose of the government and regions.
Through the agreement, the objectives are updated and the intervention priorities are redefined on the basis of the financial resources available in the reference year of the national fund for youth policies.
This system, based on the institutional dialogue between the government and territorial autonomies, ensures considerable flexibility in redefining the overall strategy, also in terms of youth participation, and allows the authority responsible for implementing the strategy to adapt choices and investments by virtue of the priorities that can be determined following economic crises or social emergencies.