5.5 National strategy to increase youth participation
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Existence of a national strategy to increase young people's political and civil society participation
The federal government's Youth Strategy
The government's joint Youth Strategy sends a message to the younger generation that it takes their interests and needs into consideration. The Youth Strategy contains 163 initiatives in nine action areas. All federal ministries are involved.
From more needs-based local transport and high-speed internet, to affordable housing and climate action measures, decisions in any policy area can have a direct impact on the younger generation. For this reason, the federal government, in cooperation with all federal ministries, developed a Youth Strategy coordinated by the Federal Youth Ministry (Bundesjugendministerium, BMFSFJ). In the development phase, young people were asked to contribute their views as experts in matters that affect them. Many put forward their ideas and wishes at the Youth Policy Days (JugendPolitikTage), in thematic audits, or via online consultations. There are nine youth-related action areas:
- Future, generational dialogue & youth views
- Participation, engagement & democracy
- City & country, living & culture
- Diversity & participation
- Education, work & free spaces
- Mobility & digitalisation
- Europe and the world
The Youth Strategy's central principles: To promote participation by children and young people (see 5.4), to make young people visible, and to share responsibility (youth policy as an interdisciplinary subject affecting all policy areas). Key participation formats to help implement the Youth Strategy are the Federal Youth Conference (Bundesjugendkonferenz, planned for September 2020), the EU Youth Conference (planned for October 2020) and the Youth Policy Days (JugendPolitikTage) in 2021. BMFSFJ runs another initiative together with the German Children's Fund (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk) called "Strong child and youth parliaments" (Starke Kinder- und Jugendparlamente). The initiative supports around 30,000 children and young people who are active in child and youth parliaments. It raises the visibility and public profile of the over 500 child and youth parliaments in Germany to gain appreciation for their work. The project aims to strengthen the role of child and youth parliaments as an important part of a diverse range of opportunities for young people to participate at a local level. BMFSFJ also works to more actively include young people as a target audience for political communication and to develop suitable formats for improving dialogue between young people and policymakers. Another BMFSFJ project is updating and supplementing the quality standards for good child and youth participation developed for various fields of practice in the National Action Plan "Towards a child-friendly Germany 2005-2010" (Für ein kindergerechtes Deutschland 2005-2010).
The Interministerial Working Group on Youth
The Interministerial Working Group on Youth (IMA Jugend) was created in October 2018. Its members – representatives from the federal ministries and government commissioners – meet regularly to develop and implement the government's joint Youth Strategy (Jugendstrategie). IMA Jugend's activities are coordinated by the Federal Youth Ministry (Bundesjugendministerium, BMFSFJ). The Working Group, along with themed sub-groups, defined the initial situation, action areas and initiatives for each of the nine youth action areas. These form the basis for implementing the government's Youth Strategy.
BMFSFJ civic advisory council for the Youth Strategy
The civic advisory council of the BMFSFJ was set up to involve youth interest groups, civil society, the federal states (Länder) and municipal umbrella organisations in developing and implementing the Youth Strategy. The council is chaired by Caren Marks, the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerin für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMSFSJ). It is co-chaired by Prof. Karin Böllert, Chair of the Child and Youth Welfare Association (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kinder und Jugendhilfe, AGJ). The civic advisory council representatives discuss youth-related topics and make suggestions and recommendations for improvement. The council is an important forum that connects government and civil society.
Participation of young people in the Youth Strategy
A range of recurring formats involving young people as experts in matters that affect them are designed to ensure as many young people with wide-ranging perspectives as possible participate in developing the Youth Strategy. The Interministerial Working Group uses the findings in its activities developing and implementing the Youth Strategy. The formats have different sizes, target groups and scopes. They include youth audits (Jugend-Audits), the Youth Policy Days (JugendPolitikTage), a Federal Youth Conference (Bundesjugendkonferenz) and an online participation tool (see 5.4).
Youth Strategy service office
The Youth Strategy service office (Servicestelle Jugendstrategie) is currently part of the Foundation for the Social Pedagogical Institute Berlin "Walter May" (Stiftung Sozialpädagogisches Institut Berlin "Walter May", Stiftung SPI). It helps the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) to develop and implement the government's joint Youth Strategy (Jugendstrategie). The office advises the BMFSFJ on expert and strategic matters, provides organisational support for committee meetings, and helps with conferences, workshops and other youth participation formats. It also develops ideas and elements to use in communication.
Policymakers, civil society and young people are constantly evolving the Youth Strategy. All federal ministries share responsibility for this process. Continual youth participation is a requirement of all Youth Policy initiatives. More information can be requested from Stiftung SPI's Youth Strategy service office (firstname.lastname@example.org).