Summary of Discussion: Deliberative Democracy Festival

On 21st October 2022, UPLIFT researchers from Amsterdam and Barakaldo, joined researchers from Latvia and Brussels to discuss and share experiences and learnings from working with young people at the Public Participation sessions at the Deliberative Democracy Festival.   

Researchers from Latvia and Brussels shared their experiences of involving children in urban planning from Adazi municipality (Latvia) and inhabitant-based activities of NGOs in Molenbeek district of Brussels, UPLIFT researchers discussed the role of young people in policy co-creation. 

All four cases analysed the means of involving (mostly vulnerable) young inhabitants to help shape policies and public spaces around them. Despite the differences in the four cases, common conclusions could be formulated.  For instance, the openness of the public sphere (realising that their decisions are based on the needs of their inhabitants) is a crucial precondition of any co-creation process, finding a common language and bridging the knowledge between vulnerable young people and policy makers and implementers is an essential role for which resources have to be secured, policy making and implementation should get rid of paternalistic approaches no matter how much they are based on goodwill, and instead be reflective of the experiences of young people within the place.

The panel concluded that co-creation and participatory implementation cannot create foundational system change in isolation, however, this strategy can contribute to longer term cultural change.