This years theme was Youth – Participation – Empowerment and it featured interactive panels on topics such as Environment and Sustainability, Employability and Education, and more. The opening for these topics featured a necessary introduction on research findings about youth in the region and were successfully delivered by researcher and author of the FES Regional Youth Study, Miran Lavrič.
Prof. Lavrič kindly provided us with a first hand comment on his experience as a key note speaker at the event:
“It was a great experience for me to share some of the findings of our study with such a relevant and interested audience. A glimpse at the list of organizing and funding organizations of the event is enough to realize that over 120 participants represented important stakeholders in terms of youth from the region. The impressive building of the Romanian Parliament, but most of all enthusiasm and energy of the participants, many of them young, contributed to a both very relaxed and productive atmosphere.
In my presentation I focused on political attitudes and even more on factors of civic and political participation of young people in the SEE region. Many questions and comments by the audience left me with the impression that our findings really opened some new horizons for many participants and, maybe even more so, strengthened the belief in some of the policy measures that are already being taken in order to stimulate civic and political participation of young people.”
Participatory attitudes of youth in the region are particularly interesting because of two parallel trends: while young people feel that they are inadequately represented and they do not wish to take on positions in politics, they want to engage in alternative ways to voice their opinion. That is why civic engagement is an important venue for young people to express their needs and concerns, but it is yet to gather much involvement from young people as well. In any case, heightening the awareness for young people to actively participate through more than just voting at elections, is a challenge that is already being undertaken, through various initiatives and policy measures. This gives hope that we are soon to see a different, more proactive attitude of youth on one side, and a reception of all the gathered data in youth-driven policy making from region’s stakeholders.