9.2 Administration and governance
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Youth’s contribution to global processes of policy-making, implementation and follow-up, including youth cooperation at the global level, is not exclusively a youth policy theme (or any other policy area). The Flemish Government works via both horizontal and vertical consultation and planning to stimulate youth’s contribution to global processes of policy-making.
Most relevant policy domains at regional (Flemish) level are:
- Youth policy
- Educational policy
- Sustainable development policy
In the following we focus on the regional level and describe for each of the domains the relevant responsibilities.
The Flemish Government works together with other countries and regions in a bilateral context. The Flemish Government has bilateral cooperation for youth work and youth policy. The Flemish Government also participates in multilateral forums, such as the Benelux, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the United Nations and UNESCO. Discussions and political decisions at European level have impact on the Flemish Youth Policy.
Furthermore, the Flemish Government funds organisations that increase young people’s competences on sustainability, through the Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012.
Main public actors at community-level (Flemish Community)
Minister in charge of Youth
The Flemish Minister for Youth is also the coordinating minister of the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan. He has a coordinating role in topics related to youth and the world.
Department of Culture, Youth and Media
The Department Culture, Youth and Media is responsible for the preparation, follow-up and evaluation of Flemish policy on culture, youth and media and for the follow-up of policy items that interface with other departments. Within the Department, the ‘Division Knowledge and Policy’ is responsible for developing knowledge and expertise to inform policy and practice, with ample attention to cross-cutting and international links.
The Division Knowledge and Policy is comprised of three teams of which Team Transversal and International is responsible for the integrated coordination of culture, youth and media policy with a specific focus on transversal and international aspects.
Minister in charge of sustainability
The Government of Flanders consists of 9 ministers, who are in office for a 5-year term. One of these ministers is responsible for Environment, Spatial Development, Nature and Agriculture (from 2019-2024).
Department of Environment and Spatial Development
The Department of Environment and Spatial Development is the environmental administration of the government of Flanders. It is in charge of preparing, following up and evaluating the Flemish environmental policy. The Department of Environment and Spatial Development came into existence on the 1st of April 2017 and involved the bringing together of the past ‘Department Environment, Nature and Energy’ and ‘Spatial Development Department Flanders’.
Furthermore, the department promotes policy initiatives through a specific target-group policy. It is in charge of Education for Sustainable Development and ecological engineering. It subsidises projects and it provides for the fixed and regulated subsidies to environment and environmental organisations, amongst others.
Minister in charge of Education and Training
The Department of Education and Training together with the Minister in charge of Education and Training is responsible for the advice, evaluation and follow-up on education policy in Flanders.
The Flemish policy on education of sustainable development is defined in Flemish policy documents, such as Flemish Parliament Act of Sustainable Development and cross-curricular attainment targets in education.
Main non-public actors
Non-profit organisations working on youth and the world
Several Flemish-funded youth organisations take part in the development of policies, programmes or actions related to youth’s contribution to global processes of policy-making.
Many organisations have also initiated projects about sustainable development and have developed methods, instruments and campaigns targeting young people.
The Flemish youth and children’s rights policy also funds children’s rights organisations. These non-profit organisations take initiatives that raise awareness of children’s rights towards all people, including young people.
THE FLEMISH YOUTH COUNCIL
One of the aims of the Flemish Youth Council is to represent young people and youth work at national and international forums. By doing so, the Flemish Youth Council sends UN youth representatives to various (inter)national forums.
The Flemish Youth Council takes initiatives in this field (e.g. participating in policymaking setting up projects about sustainable development, developing methods and instruments to reach out to young people, etc.) (see chapter 5).
There is a youth representative for Europe that takes part in gatherings of the members of the European Youth Forum. There are UN youth representatives for youth and sustainable development who can speak on the behalf of Flanders in these forums. They work around global themes such as sustainability and human rights and they represent Flemish children and young people in international UN-forums such as the third committee meeting of the General Conference, the Commission for Social Development and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
The international youth representatives of the Flemish Youth Council are supported by the Ambrassade (see 5.3). This is an association recognised and subsidised by the Flemish Government and also responsible for the development, support and provision of information to the youth sector.
The youth organisation Globelink runs the simulation project ‘KRAS’. This is a discussion and role-playing game for third-grade secondary school students. Throughout Flanders, young people gather in their free time to debate global issues with their peers. Discussion and their own opinions are central to this. Every school year, a new annual theme with a global slant is used to introduce young people to the world of democracy and debate. The students take on the role of a certain country or stakeholder and debate a specific sustainable development topic (e.g. power relations in 2018-2019) from that perspective. At the end of the school year, the Flemish Parliament invites the students to a big closing colloquium.
The Aanstokerij is a non-profit youth organisation that consciously chooses games as an educational tool. For more than 40 years now, Aanstokerij has been developing, producing, facilitating and distributing educational games. The educational games inform and sensitise children, youngsters and adults about different social issues such as democracy, intercultural learning, north-south problems, the environment and social skills.
JNM (Jeugdbond voor Natuur en Milieu) is a youth organisation engaged in environmental issues. JNM focuses on young people between the ages of 7 and 26 who are interested in nature. It is also a youth organisation for and by young people. Fun and games form a large part of the organisation.
Tumult is a youth organisation and encourages young people to meet each other, across borders. Tumult learns young people to deal with conflicts in a constructive manner and stimulates young people to be critical. By doing so, Tumult wants to strive towards a peaceful world together with children and young people.
The general distribution of responsibilities
Relevant policies are prepared, implemented and monitored at the regional level (Flanders). Under coordination of the Department of Culture, Youth and Media, several departments cooperate to ensure effective contribution of youth to global policy-making processes. The Flemish government also funds several non-public organisations that take part in relevant development of policies, programmes or actions. On the other hand the regional level collaborates with the municipalities who are in charge of the local youth policy. Flanders supports them by means of monitoring tools, research, trainings, funding of Bataljong, an organisation that has the task to strengthen children and young people, politicians and officials in pursuing more, better and broader local policies for children and young people.
As mentioned in 1.5 Cross-sectorial approach with other ministries, youth policy is a transversal policy. It is envisaged that each ministry takes its own responsibilities and defines tasks linked to the implementation of specific goals within the Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan, while the Minister for Youth is in charge of overseeing the process and reporting on the Plan’s implementation to the Flemish government.