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.
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 2019 (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 were the Federal Youth Conference (Bundesjugendkonferenz September 2020), the EU Youth Conference (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.
Further development with a National Action Plan for Child and Youth Participation
The Youth Strategy is based on the concept of an independent youth policy and was devel-oped and implemented across ministries and with the participation of youth/young people and civil society. The Federal Government’s Youth Strategy is being further developed through a National Action Plan (NAP) for Child and Youth Participation. New focal points include the participation of children under the age of twelve and political participation at local and state (Land) level.
The NAP for Child and Youth Participation is being developed within a dialogue process (until 2025) that involves the Federal Government, federal states (Länder), municipalities, civil soci-ety and children and young people. Among other things, it aims to raise awareness of quality standards for effective participation and to strengthen self-determined children’s and youth parliaments and participation networks. In addition, an important role is played by the Acade-my for Children’s and Youth Parliaments project, with its decentralised structure in 16 youth education centres. The results of this dialogue process will be presented as a resolution rec-ommendation to the Federal Cabinet and the Conference of Youth and Family Ministers.
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 monitor the implementation and further development of the Youth Strategy with the National Action Plan for Child and Youth Participation. IMA Jugend's activities are coordinated by the Federal Youth Ministry (Bundesjugendministerium, BMFSFJ).
BMFSFJ Youth Policy Advisory Council
The Youth Policy 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 with the National Action Plan for Child and Youth Participation. The council is chaired by Sven Lehmann, 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 and the National Action Plan for Child and Youth Participation
All event formats within the framework of the NAP for Child and Youth Participation are participation-based. 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), Federal Youth Conferences (Bundesjugendkonferenzen) 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).