THE CAPABILITY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN CREATING POSSIBILITIES FOR YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN LOCAL LEVEL DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES

Client: Eesti Noorteühenduste Liit

Period: 2019-2020

The aim of the study was to generate an overview about the possibilities of youth participation in local level decision-making processes. We studied the methods of 8 local governments in including young people in decision-making processes, how the representatives of local governments regarded including youths in decision-making processes, the factors that influence youth participation and the importance and necessity of a youth worker in youth inclusion.

We also focused on the creation and function of youth participation councils in local governments. Youth participation council, however, is not a term that is widely used in Estonian governing practice. The term youth council is defined in paragraph 9 of the Estonian Youth Work Act, it is a participation council with advisory rights that consists of young people, operates at a local government and whose members are elected democratically by the young people of the rural municipality or city pursuant to the procedure established by the rural municipality or city council. Several Estonian local goverments have regularly operating youth participation councils with advisory tasks to local governments that were not formed in accordance with the two aforementioned conditions. 

The function and purpose (youth participation in local government decision-making processes) of such youth participation councils operating in local governments is similar to the youth councils defined in the Youth Work Act.

The youth councils have different names in Estonian but local youth workers and young people often refer to them as youth councils. For this reason, we used the definition youth participation councils in the study to refer to all formal (regularly operating, operating on the basis of a statute or legislation) youth participation councils which aim at participation in local level decision-making processes. This includes youth councils as defined in the Youth Work Act and also youth participation councils in local government that operate regularly with advisory tasks to local government but which basis of operation is not established by a city or rural municipality directive or which do not hold democratic elections for membership.