Strasbourg, France 18-20 September 2019
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From 18 to 20 September 2019 the partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth organised a symposium. Over 120 participants explored current tensions, questions, challenges and opportunities regarding the political participation of young people in today’s changing world and created a space for learning and inspiration among actors involved in this topic.

Watch an interview of the co-ordinator of the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership, Marta Medlinska, introducing the Symposium.

 Objectives and results

The symposium aims to:

  • offer space and possibilities for participants to share and explore examples of young people’s political participation in a changing world
  • empower participants from different fields and levels to address this theme in their work on supporting young people’s democratic values and political engagement
  • connect different actors working on these themes, from within and beyond the youth sector, to continue, develop or innovate in relation to that work
  • produce knowledge relating to the trends of youth political participation, their reasons and implications.

The symposium strives for the following outcomes:

  • mutual learning, inspiration and motivation for future actions for the participants
  • a compendium of good practices and stories of success highlighting the actions to be taken for supporting youth political participation analytical papers on young people’s political participation in a changing world
  • practical conclusions on how diverse actors can support young people’s democratic values and political engagement.

 Symposium programme

While the overarching theme is set, a key feature of this symposium is that sessions within the programme will be designed in a participatory way. In the application form, participants indicated what issues or questions are most pressing for them in their work as it relates to the main theme of political participation. The answers informed the topics that will be covered throughout the symposium. Here come some examples of issues to be explored:

  • How do young people engage in political participation in a changing world of economic tensions, crisis of democratic institutions, digitalisation, social media, fake news and other manipulations of the public opinion, etc.?
  • What are the trends in young people’s political engagement and the underlying values? How do young people see their own political participation?
  • What determines young people’s political actions?
  • What is the space for young people’s engagement in civil society and citizen movements?
  • What conditions for young people’s political participation may be influenced by the youth sector and how?
Participants feedback Participants feedback

Jutta Hofer
is Head of the department of wienXtra‐kinderaktiv/ferienspiel in Vienna, Austria:


Think globally – but act locally. Of course we (should) try to reach everybody but we have to start with the ones closest to us. We have to spread the idea that political participation and the dialogue about it is valuable for everyone. And we must not lose sight of the fact that children have ideas and solutions as well and must be involved in participatory processes.


Adam Labaran
is a Vice-President of the Union of Refugees in Portugal – UREP:


The Symposium was interesting in helping us define and express our values and visions. My main take-away and a message from the Symposium is: ‘The future belongs to you, but it can only belong to you if you participate and take charge’.



Alex Taylor
is a Youth Ambassador, YMCA England and Wales, UK:


Political opinions can be expressed in many ways, each one valid as much as the other. It is our job to ensure that all forms of participation are recognised and encouraged.



Kevin Buckland
is a climate artivist and co-director of from Catalunya, Spain:


As political institutions continue to show their unwillingness or inability to deal adequately with the global climate crisis, the youth are rising to remind the politicians and defenders of the status-quo that the future does not belong to them. We are in the earliest days of a political and economic transformation without precedents, it will be the youth who create this future, and it is their vision and optimism that we so desperately need now.


Salaado Qasim
is a teacher in elementary and vocational school, chairwoman in Peace and Well-being organization (Rauhan ja Hyvinvoinnin järjestö), EU career ambassador and a member of UN youth and Green youth, Finland:


The Symposium brought together participants involved in youth work from different parts of the world and we collectively got to discuss challenges young people encounter in different regions. We managed to create space of unity and this made it easier for us to learn and to inspire one another.


Youth political participation Youth political participation

What is political participation?

How to engage marginalised young people in politics?

How can we meaningfully engage young people?
Lessons from the Symposium

"Many Whys" webinars "Many Whys" webinars

Online conversations
on youth political participation

Webinar #1 “Our house is on fire” 

by Cristina Bacalso, PEYR

Webinar #2 “Education for social change - the political dimension of youth work”

by Tim Scholz, Head of the Education, Education Centre Kurt Loewenstein

Webinar #3 Conventional and Alternative forms of Young People's Political Participation” 

by Kevin Buckland and Mariam Inayat

Webinar “What do I care for? Social Values of Young People Compared”

by Magda Nico