9.3 Exchanges between young people and policy-makers on global issues
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The Austrian Youth Strategy (see chapter 1.3) pursues the active participation of young people in decisions that affect their living environment (Field of Action: Participation and Engagement). However, in order to be able to participate and contribute to political discussions on global issues, young people need the opportunity to voice their concerns in this regard. At national level, the following opportunities for exchange between young people and policy-makers in Austria exist.
Climate Youth Council
TheClimate Youth Council (Klimajugendrat) enables young people in Austria to engage in dialogue on climate policy issues at eye level with members of all parties represented in parliament as well as with other interested young people. Organised by the Federal Youth Council (BJV) in partnership with the Climate and Energy Fund (Klima- und Energiefonds), the Climate Youth Council has been held annually on the premises of the Parliament since 2020. All young people between the ages of 14 and 30 can participate in the 3-day event free of charge. In addition to climate policy inputs, exchange and networking as well as dialogue with MPs, the awarding of prizes (Climate Action Award) for the best climate youth projects (nominierte Jugendprojekte 2023) also takes place within this framework. A summary of the results is subsequently available on the website of the Austrian Parliament (Klimajugendrat Ergebnisse).
As part of the #act4changecampaign (website in German), organised by the Catholic Youth Austria (Katholische Jugend Österreich) and supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), young people between the ages of 14 and 30 have the opportunity to put their climate policy demands to important stakeholders. This participatory exchange takes place either in a discussion round (as of spring 2023) or through an artistic performance (as of January 2023). While the former gives young people the opportunity to exchange views with selected decision-makers at eye level, the latter allows for a more creative implementation. Here, young people artistically raise their global concerns in front of an audience of key decision-makers from different sectors such as politics, business, education and NGOs.
Initiated by the Federal Pupils' Representative Council (Bundesschüler*innenvertretung), the Austrian Pupils' Parliament (Österreichische Schüler*innenparlament - ÖSIP), which has been legally established since 2018, meets regularly to discuss educational policy and youth-related issues. The aim is to give young people more opportunities for co-determination in the area of school education. In the run-up to the plenary sessions of the pupils' parliament, pupils translate their demands to politicians into motions, which they discuss and vote on. The positively decided motions are then submitted to the Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the National Council. The last session in 2022 (Sitzung 2022) was strongly influenced by topics such as the impact of the Corona pandemic, especially on mental health, and raising awareness of climate change.
The Austrian Youth Conference (Österreichische Jugendkonferenz) takes place annually in Austria and gives young people the opportunity to actively shape Austrian politics. Organised by the National Youth Council (BJV), the three-day, free conference invites young people aged 16-30 from all over Austria to work together with decision-makers and stakeholders on the implementation of youth goals in Austria.
Local Conference of Youth Austria
Since 2018, theLocal Conference of Youth Austria (LCOY Austria) has offered a platform for Austria's youth to actively engage for a liveable climate future. With formats such as panel discussions, various workshops and a market of initiatives, the conference also offers educational and exchange programmes for young people aged 14 to 30 who are new to the topic of climate protection. Together with environmental spokespersons of the Austrian political parties, moderated by UNFCCC youth delegates, about 350 participants can share their impressions, emotions and demands with politicians and discuss how Austrian climate policy can be changed. The conference is organised by CliMates Austria.
The exchange of ideas and perspectives on global issues between young individuals and policymakers at the international level is frequently facilitated through platforms such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN). Numerous instances highlight the significance of these exchanges, some of which are outlined below.
UN Youth Delegate Programme
Since 2012, Austria has participated in the UN Youth Delegate Programme(UN-Jugenddelegierte), which is run by the Austrian National Youth Council (BJV). Young people between 18 and 24 years of age with Austrian citizenship are selected as UN delegates for two years. In this role, they engage with young people in Austria, network with other UN delegates and relevant organisations around the world, and raise young people's concerns at intergovernmental meetings, including the UN General Assembly in New York.
EU Youth Dialogue
The EU Youth Dialogue ensures the systematic involvement of young people in the policy-making process for selected thematic areas of youth policy. It enables young people and decision-makers to meet at eye level. As an outcome of such exchange process, the 11 European Youth Goals represent the views of young people all over Europe. In Austria, the Federal Chancellery (BKA) is responsible for the implementation of the Austrian Youth Dialogue (Jugenddialog Österreich) (see Youth Participation). To support and steer the Youth Dialogue in Austria, a National Working Group (NAG) acts as a link between the national and European levels. It is composed of numerous representatives from the youth sector and coordinates all activities carried out at national, regional and local level. In order to secure the political tasks in the long term, three EU Member States work together for 18 months each. For this period, this "trio" determines a thematic focus for the Youth Dialogue. In January 2022, the 9th participation round of the Youth Dialogue started with the thematic focus on Youth Goals #3 Inclusive Societies and Youth Goal #10 A Sustainable, Green Europe.
UN Climate Change Conference
With CliMates Austria, the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) sends four young people between the ages of 18 and 26 to the UN Climate Change Conference every year to represent the voices of Austrian youth. The selected young people deal intensively with the subject matter in advance so that they can then follow the negotiations on site and pass on the latest developments to Austria's youth. With the takeover of the youth delegate programme from CliMates Austria in 2018 (UNFCCC-Jugenddelegiertenprogramm), the programme takes place in its current form every two years and functions as a junior/senior programme. Each year, new youth delegates are accompanied by senior delegates who have already gained experience at the climate conference in the previous year and can pass on the knowledge they have acquired to the two new candidates. Subsequently, the youth delegates regularly participate in events within the framework of CliMates Austria.
Participation & Sustainable Development
Initiated by the Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology and coordinated by the Austrian Society for Environment and Technology (ÖGUT), the platform partizipation.at offers information on civic participation at local, EU and international level. Moreover, it provides information on opportunities for participation in the fields of climate protection, environment, energy, mobility, innovation and technology. An overview of the current challenges in the individual areas and the importance of participation in the corresponding social and political processes is given. In addition, the practice database contains examples from all fields of application of participation in great thematic and geographical diversity, including youth participation projects (Kinder- und Jugendpartizipation).