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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Finland

Finland

5. Participation

5.10 Current debates and reforms

On this page
  1. Forthcoming policy developments
  2. Ongoing debates

Forthcoming policy developments

The Health, Social Services and Regional Government Reform will entail a remarkable change the share of work between the municipalities and the state in organising public services (more information see Youth Wiki/Finland 7.8 Current debates and reforms). For example, from the point of view of youth participation, the reform will mean that youth councils will also be established at the regional level.

Ongoing debates

There is currently a lack of research that focuses on youth participation in legislative consultation processes and the child rights impact evaluation (see in Finnish e.g. Iivonen & Pollari 2021). An ongoing sub-study in the ALL-YOUTH research project (2018-2023) aims to fill this gap by examining a) how, if at all, youth have participated in the formal consultation process (in General Upper Secondary School Act, in Climate Act in Finnish, see also the Reform of the Climate Change Act) and b) what intended or unintended effects legislative changes have had on youth in the context of education (Act on Compulsory Education in Finnish). Findings of the study on the Secondary School Act (Meriläinen et al. 2020) states that the views that youth put forth in the hearing process did not have an identifiable influence on its regulation, nor were their opinions reflected in the summary of the consultation.

Additionally, the study on the Climate Act (Albrecht et al. 2020) found that youth are concerned about climate change but lack the knowledge on how to participate in legislative processes. Preliminary findings of the study on the Climate Act conducted together with Youth Council of Sámi Parliament (Finland), also suggest that youths’ initiatives relating to the Climate Act reform are mainly ignored in the current draft of the Climate Act (in Finnish) (Juusola & Viljanen 2021). The sub-study has also developed new co-research practices with young people. Careful planning is essential for successful youth participation, including working together with teachers, youth workers or youth NGOs which are essential to reaching out to society (and not only to those who are active already). One example of that is the project course on legislative writing that was run in upper secondary school. During the course, new practices were developed with the youth, such as how to conduct an impact assessment on the execution of the law (see more in Finnish Heiskanen et al., 2018).

Additionally, ongoing sub-studies in the ALL-YOUTH research project focus on the relationship between youth participation and digital services. Results include an analysis on young people’s experiences of using the existing digital platforms designed for the societal participation of citizens (lausuntopalvelu.fi, nuortenideat.fi) from the perspective of accessibility.  Findings indicate that the language used in the consultation processes is very complex and creates a barrier (see Meriläinen, Pietilä & Varsaluoma 2018). Moreover, the digital platforms remain unfamiliar to both teachers and young people alike.

Concerning digital societal participation, ALL-YOUTH studies suggest that youths value safe environments for discussions and making the effects of participation visible (Pietilä et al. 2021b). ALL-YOUTH has developed, together with young people and other stakeholders, a new digital service prototype “Virtual Council” to support youth participation. Based on this research work, a national digital service is currently being developed by the Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders to support youth societal participation in Finland. Furthermore, recent research suggests that a new form of eParticipation framework which puts emphasis on citizen-centricity when exploring the complex set of processes and services needed when planning for societal participation (Pietilä et al., 2021a).

The ALL-YOUTH-project is funded by the Strategic Research Council under Academy of Finland. An important element of such ”strategic” research is the active collaboration between those who produce new knowledge and those who use it, there is a lot of co-operation for example with the government when choosing the themes for research projects.