5.4 Young people's participation in policy-making
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Formal Mechanisms of Consultation
Consultation at state level
The involvement of young people or youth organisations in the policymaking process at state level is consultative and not legally binding.
Method and regularity og consultations
Many youth organizations engage actively with the policy making process by providing consultation statements in connection with proposed bills from the government (both the executive and legislative bodies).
The Government declared through its political platform in 2019 that it will strengthen youth participation in democratic processes at the national level. Ministries are establishing ad hoc youth panels to advice the government on various policy issues. Several panels have been established, including among others:
- The Ministry of Local Development and Modernisation set up a panel focusing on regional policy development.
- The Ministry of Children and Families set up a panel focusing on measures for children growing up in low-income families.
- The Ministry of Children and Families set up a panel focusing on the development of a national ‘Recreation Card’ with the aim of giving children and young people 6 to 18 years the opportunity to participate in organised leisure time/recreational activities regardless of economic resources.
- A panel was set up to provide advice to the Government to White Paper no. 9 (2020-2021) [Mennesker, muligheter og norske interesser i nord] which presents the government's High North policy for the coming years.
Consultation at municipal level
From 2019 and with the revisionof the Local Government Act it became mandatory with formal consultative bodies/youth councils for youth at municipal and county levels. See section 5.2 Youth participation in representative democracy.
The Norwegian Directorate of Children Youth and Family Affairs has commissioned research aimed at mapping youth participation in Norwegian municipalities. So far, this has resulted in a systematic review of research on youth participation in the Nordic countries (Bygdås & Hagen 2022) and a study of youth participation in selected municipalities (Hagen et al 2023). This work is a part of a five year project with the goal of strengthening youth participation in Norwegian municipalities.
At state level, the relevant youth actors involved in the consultation process vary depending on the content of the bill. Youth are represented through interest organisations or national umbrella associations, such as the Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU), Elevorganisasjonen [School Student Union of Norway (SSUN)], Norsk Studentorganisasjon [The National Union of Students in Norway], Youth Work Norway [Ungdom og Fritid and the Norwegian Association of Youth with Disabilities [Unge Funksjonshemmede].
All major political parties in Norway have their own youth party organization. They work mostly independently as organizations and differ in varying degrees to their mother organization in terms of political priorities and topics. They are, however, the predominant source of direct representation of youth issues and priorities to the mother parties.The political youth parties have local branches [lokallag] that meet annually at a national assembly. Each youth party has a central administration, or board that works directly with the main party they are affiliated under.
Specific target groups
The very process of public consultations and the setting up of national youth panels is meant to ensure all affected sections of the population are consulted.
All ministries are obliged to consult all relevant public authorities and organisations. The Ministry of Children and Families has published information about the setting up of ad hoc youth panels.
One of the main duties of the Ombudsman for Children is ensure that the opinions of children and young people are heard and that their rights are upheld.
Information on the extent of youth participation
There is no systematic information gathering on the extent of youth participation.
As part of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) the ICCS 2016-study took place in Norway in the spring of 2016. The ICCS 2016-study investigates students’ knowledge and understanding of societal values, civic society and political systems, their capability of applying democratic principles, together with their attitudes and preparedness to take up the role in the future as active citizens in a democratic society. NOVA – Norwegian Social Research, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences was as the National Research Coordinator (NRC) for the study, which is a continuation of two previous civic education studies: CIVED in 1999 and ICCS in 2009. Approximately 6,000 students and 2, 000 teachers of 9th grade from 148 schools across the country participated in the 2016 study.
There is no systematic documentation the outcome, or impact of youth participation in policy making at the national level. However, official documents (reports, White Papers, and proposed bills) may reference specific recommendations put forward through youth participation processes such as consultations.
Public availability of outcomes
The Act on the right of access to documents in public activities [Offentlighetsloven] contains provisions on the right to view (access) documents from the public administration. The main rule is that everyone can demand access documents. The law also contains provisions on what is considered a document and when a document becomes public.
All municipal and county council meetings and subsequent notes of council member’s suggestions, responses, debate introductions or statements [innlegg], or votes, are made publicly available after the council meetings have ended. Documents include meeting minutes [referat], voting results [voteringsresultat], and sometimes deliberative summaries.
Large-scale initiatives for dialogue or debate between public institutions and young people
Arendalsuka is a week-long and annual event open to the public that gathers political leaders, business leaders, entrepreneurs, governmental organizations, media and NGO's. It has grown to become the largest political gathering in Norway. Originally a private initiative the event is hosted by Arendal municipality. There is also a separate programme for children and young people that reflects current topics in the public debate for children and young people, such as democracy, hate speech, science, the environment, research, tax and economics, coding, human rights, fake news, exclusion, war history, cyberbullying, religion, and culture.