Photo credits: Maryna Zabara/CSO "MART"

Chernihiv, July 9, 2018 – How does one inspire young people to be active participants in the life of their communities, and make sure they are not left behind during the decentralization process? Engaging youth in the policy-making process in the context of ongoing reforms is crucial for the successful development of amalgamated territorial communities (ATC). A survey on Youth in Ukraine conducted in 2017 says that 62 percent of young people want to live in Ukraine, 56 percent have a positive attitude towards the decentralisation reform, and 52 percent are ready to personally engage in initiatives in the life of a hromada (community).

In September 2017, UNDP supported an initiative of the CSO “MART” to boost young people’s capacity to have their voice heard in the policy- and decision-making process. Piloted in Chernihiv Oblast, this initiative engaged representatives of five ATCs in the region, which were selected on a competitive basis.

Over almost one year, the participants, from Kiptivska, Koryukivska, Losynivska, Sosnytska, and Koropska ATCs, attended numerous training sessions and workshops on such topics as human rights and democracy, a human-rights-based approach for young people, and international and national best practices of engaging young people in policy-making process. The participants went on to apply all of these skills in drafting possible solutions and regulatory acts for their ATCs.

On 9 July, representatives of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, the regional authorities, UNDP, partner ATCs, NGOs and civic activists came to Chernihiv to sum-up the results of the initiative, and to discuss key issues and possible solutions for engaging young people in the decision-making process in the context of decentralization.

“One of the key priorities for us is to create a mechanism and environment for engaging young people in the decision-making process at the local level. This year it will be the topic of Parliamentary Hearings. I hope that the communities that participated in this initiative will share their experience in parliament,” said Oleksandr Yarema, the deputy minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine.

Since launching, all five ATCs have set up Youth Councils in their communities - a mechanism to engage young people in the decision-making process. This is the result of teamwork by civic activists, the local authorities, youth organizations and young activists. Now the young leaders of these amalgamated communities have access to the local authorities, and can directly discuss with them their most pressing issues, share innovative ideas, and help to develop their communities. 

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