Today’s youth will be the key generation of our cities in 20-30 years. What if we planned long-term development around young people? And how else to do the planning if not through participation?
Participation is not just about taking part in something, but also of being an integral part of the whole. The participation of young people is one of the principles that guide our activity, whether we talk about studies and analysis, about participatory budgeting or about getting involved in decision-making. Here’s how we at PONT Group see participation.
Young people are creative – we already know that from Com’ON Cluj-Napoca and Sfântu Gheorghe, where young people proposed over a hundred initiatives in order to make their city a better, active and radiant one. Dozens became reality after the community endorsement, helping young people contribute organically to the development of their city.
We like a lot to talk about creating participatory ecosystems, and to bring at the same table young people, organizations, public authorities and stakeholders in order to better visualise together how the city can be more inclined to youth. One good example on this is the candidacy of the city Baia Mare for the title European Youth Capital 2023, through the concept of PLAY, but also continuing the concept of the previous candidacy, Urban Youth Circle, as a core for the long-term vision of Baia Mare on youth.
Also, by initiating the concept and actively participating in the governance of the Romanian Youth Capital programme, we empower Romanian cities to invest in developing support networks for young people and co-creating urban areas with young people.
But that’s not all, because in order to do something, one must have adequate tools. In this case, through LAYOUTH we aim to find those common approaches to local youth action plans that help in strengthening local planning and implementation systems that serve young people, aligned with European youth policies. YouthLand 19.27, on the other hand, aims to find good practices for intervention and response in youth-related issues and collect them into a methodology to support the development of strategic plans.
What can the city do to empower its young citizens? Starting with this question, we conducted the Interdisciplinary study on young people’s needs and opportunities – LEAP in order to find what makes youngsters tick – what their needs and opportunities are and how can the city improve to meet them.
Of course, support systems are essentials in order to make things possible. We thought a network of youth workers would be a valorous add, thus we implemented Youth Work Forward and trained young professionals in order to be able to provide support for youngsters based on their needs and approaches. Another example is Urban Citizen Y, which aims to generate exchange of knowledge and creative ideas between young people and youth workers in order to reach practical and pragmatic solutions.