Plenary panel speaker: Alexandra Robinson, OECD

13:00 - 16:30 CET

Wednesday 13 Oct.

Inclusion of youth voices in policy-making and strategic processes

Guiding questions:

1. What difference do young people make by participating in shaping policies and legislation as well as international commitments?  

2. Young people participating in youth initiatives are treated as the representatives of all youth. Should young people be decision-makers and/or formally mandated themselves to efficiently represent other youth?

3. What is the primary incentive to involve young people in non-youth policies?



Research has shown that meaningful youth engagement is a participatory process in which young people’s ideas, expertise, experiences, and perspectives are integrated throughout programmatic, policy, and institutional decision-making structures. Inclusion of youth voices in policy making is not limited only to public policy documents which target young women and men directly, such as national youth strategies and similar. Additionally, youth interest can be observed throughout all public policies and in relation to international commitments. This roundtable will focus on examples of such practices and overall know-how on mainstreaming approaches to enhance greater youth equality and civic activism.


Parallel sessions 

1. Agenda 2030 & youth, peace and security: Can we walk the talk?

Young people have been acknowledged as positive agents of change in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to fulfill that role and expectation, there is still a way to go in enabling and strengthening youth participation in decision-making around sustainable development. How some countries enable it through Voluntary National Reviews, as critical part of the accountability architecture for the SDGs, and is there a suitable recepie to follow?

Youth, peace and security agenda, that directly contributes to SDG 16 primarily, represents a concrete step toward recognizing youth as part of solution, instead of part of problem. It seems to be a framework wholeheartedly embraced by youth peacebuilders, national governments, and regional organizations. What are their different roles in advancing its operationalisation on a country level worldwide, that is yet to happen?


2. Advancing human rights through international mechanisms: What about youth?

While the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) covers children aged 0-17, there is no legally binding instrument at European or global level specifically addressing the rights of young people aged 18 and above. While it seems there is a consensus about young people experiencing difficulties in the exercise of their rights by virtue of being young, is there on the need for an international instrument on the human rights of youth?

Youth civil society has been inviting also for establishment of a special procedure on the human rights of young people, such as an Independent Expert or Special Rapporteur and called upon states to mainstream youth rights in existing human rights mechanisms including the Universal Periodic Review and the work of the Treaty Bodies. At the same time, on a national level, very few young people report discrimination or harassment to national equality bodies. How to better use these existing mechanisms and which are preconditions for it, with additional urge coming from the fact that youth have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 crisis in a context of persisting inequalities?


3. Inclusive policy making options: Is co-creation possible?

 Although youth participation is a valuable and desirable process, legal and political frameworks may impede young people from engaging in all steps at all levels, assuming there is an attempt to enable it. While there is already vast evidence and advice on standards for youth participation in policy-making, in practice there seem to be obstacles to adhering to those standards. How to responsibly and democratically, but without slipping into identity politics, enable youth-considerations horizontally in policymaking?

Moreover, though making of youth policies becomes more inclusive and trend of consulting youth is growing, same target group remains mostly sidelined in making of other policies. Should different stakeholders aim to include youth when discussing and making decisions and shaping measures about for example pensions, environment, or counter-terrorism?