Getting Squeezed: Spaces for Youth Engagement

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:12
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Cristina BACALSO, Youth Policy Labs, Canada
Alex FARROW, Youth Policy Labs, United Kingdom
Ellen EHMKE, Youth Policy Labs, Germany
Andreas KARSTEN, Youth Policy Labs, Germany
Youth participation, for many years broadly understood as “young people being represented in political processes and decision-making,” is rapidly losing its meaning. As an enshrined right, a global priority and a popular declaration for young people and politicians alike, this catchall term is in dire need of being redefined for an era of structural distrust and rapid globalisation.

The mantra of “more youth voice” and “youth need to be around the table” isn’t just clichéd; it is now disconnected to the reality of how young people see the world, the way they seek to engage, and the goals they want to achieve. In the past few years, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth was appointed, the largest youth council in the world was established, the number of national youth policies has risen – but the spaces where young people engage have fundamentally shifted, away from institutionalised arenas that are controlled by others. This shift, and the underlying tensions, have been laid visible online, on the streets, and on the world stage.

In our contribution to “The Future Is Not What It Used to be: Young People’s Future Visions in Youth Styles and Spaces of Engagement” we would like to share the findings of “The Case for Space”, a global research project carried by multiple civil society stakeholders, that seeks to understand the components of an enabling environment for youth action and youth-led civil society for the shifting conditions outlined above. The currently ongoing research contrasts a global survey of youth activists with qualitative pieces by 20 young researchers across the globe and will shed additional light on the growing disconnect between those that organise spaces for youth participation and those that are meant to use them.