With half of the world’s population under 30, the continued survival of democracy globally is overwhelmingly dependent on youth support.
Today, democracy faces a public confidence problem that disproportionally affects youth. After decades of not seeing democracy work for them and politics appearing out of their reach, many young people simply disengage from political and civic life. Democracies around the world increasingly recognize that in order to rejuvenate pluralistic democracy, young people need to be given the means to participate in all aspects of democratic politics.
In this context, the Youth Political and Civic Engagement Cohort – part of the Summit for Democ- racy’s Year of Action – was launched to take action toward implementing the Summit’s com- mitments vis-à-vis youth political and civic engagement. As a multi-stakeholder platform with over 50 member organizations from governments, IGOs, and civil society, the Youth Partici- pation Cohort is committed to actively contributing to the Year of Action by broadening the evidence base on youth participation.
As part of the Youth Cohort’s leadership group, the European Democracy Youth Network (EDYN) and the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) have spearheaded the creation of the Cohort’s Youth Participation Handbook.
The Handbook contains 24 case studies from our Cohort members from 30 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe where youth movements, networks, governments and not- for-profit organizations working to empower youth share their best practices on how to effec- tively drive youth political and civic engagement across different countries, sectors, socio-politi- cal contexts, economic conditions, and local needs.
The Summit for Democracy Youth Participation Cohort Handbook serves as an inspiration for youth organizations and democracy organizations seeking to strengthen young people’s voices in democratic processes; their understanding of democratic principles; diversity and in- clusion within youth groups; and support young people, youth organizations, and youth move- ments in reimagining a more robust, inclusive, effective, transparent, accountable, and equita- ble form of democracy – one that works for young people.
Through the Handbook, the Summit for Democracy Youth Participation Cohort also offers an evidence base for policy solutions to democratic governments that want to empower youth political and civic representation and address barriers to meaningful youth political participa- tion. The enabling factors identified by organizations from Costa Rica through Denmark all the way to Malaysia showcase how governments can create the right conditions for youth partici- pation initiatives to thrive and succeed. Only with innovative policy solutions paralleling young people’s creativity can democracies create the right enabling environment for young people to participate actively in public affairs.