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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 policymaking.
Most relevant policy domains are:
At regional (Flemish) level:
- 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 Uinted Nations and UNESCO. Discussions and political decisions at European level have impact on the Flemish Youth Policy.
Furthermore, the Flemish Government funds (youth) 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
Minister Benjamin Dalle (Christian Democratic Party) is since 2 October 2019 the Flemish Minister for Brussels Affairs, Youth and Media.
He is 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.
Since 2 October 2019 culture is an authority of the Minister-president Jan Jambon (from 2019-2024).
Department of Culture, Youth and Media
The ‘Division Knowledge and Policy’ – embedded in the Department of Culture, Youth and Media – ensures the administrative preparation, implementation and follow-up of the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights.
The ‘Division Knowledge and Policy’ of the Department of Culture, Youth and Media, is responsible for the coordination of a horizontal Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan (leisure, education, well-being, equality, etc.).
The Flemish international youth policy is coordinated by the Division Knowledge and Policy.
Minister in charge of sustainability
The Government of Flanders consists of 9 ministers, who are in office for a 5-year term. Minister Zuhal Demir (New Flemish Alliance (N-VA)) issince 2 October 2019 the Flemish Minister 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 nature organisations, amongst others.
Minister in charge of Education and Training
Minister Ben Weyts (New Flemish Alliance (N-VA)) is since 2 October 2019 the Flemish Minister for Education (from 2019-2024).
Department 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
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). As already argued, one of the aims of the 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.
There are UN youth representatives for youth and sustainable development who can speak on the behalf of Flanders in those 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). It is an association recognised and subsidised by the Flemish Government and also responsible for development, support and provision of information to the youth sector.
The youth organisation Globelink runs the simulation project ‘KRAS’ in the last two years of secondary school. 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 game 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 for Nature and Environment. 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
The policy is 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 the development of policies, programmes or actions related to youth’s contribution to global processes of policy-making. On the other hand the regional level collaborates with the municipalities. They are in charge of the local youth policy. Flanders supports them by means of monitoring tools, research, trainings, funding of an NGO that have the task to support local youth services, youth councils, youth policy.
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 government.
Besides the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan, the Act on Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy envisages three more instruments of youth policy:
The Child and Youngster Impact Report, an impact study of new legislative proposals of direct relevance to children and youth under 25 years old (JoKER)
The appointment of contact points for youth and children’s rights in all departments of the Flemish Government and the Department of Culture, Youth and Media as coordinating administration
The Youth Progress Report: the Youth Research Platform (JOP) develops a youth monitor, whereby the JOP is asked to make up a ‘state of the youth’, a scientific publication that aims to track longitudinal developments and changes in the lifeworld of Flemish young people