By Sigrun Myrvang, Chair of the YRN Committee on Youth Participation and Governance
With the Youth Regional Network (YRN) being revived in March this year, so are partnerships, such as the long-standing one between the AER and the Youth Delegates’ programme of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. Sigrun Myrvang, Chair of the YRN Committee on Youth Participation and Governance, from Innlandet County (Norway), took part in the Congress’ 45th session and youth training, from the 21st to the 26th of October.
An exciting educational week at the 45th session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, as an observer from the AER Youth Regional Network, has come to an end.
As an observer, I followed the Congress youth delegates who are part of the “Rejuvenating Politics” initiative, where the Congress annually invites young people to participate in the debates during the two sessions. I have been incredibly impressed by the youth delegates’ capacities, competences and commitment. Everyone should have the opportunity to gain insights from the long, complex, intellectual conversations and discussions that lie behind each and every question during the sessions. I have no doubt that the future is bright with the youth of today as the leaders of tomorrow!
This plenary week included important future-oriented agenda items, from urban living in the era of transformations to the importance of media covering news at local level, violence against local and regional elected representatives, the war in Ukraine, and the multi-level approach to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The programme also came with the opportunity to attend the Nordic-Baltic meeting, reception and dinner with the Norwegian Ambassador to the Council of Europe – an occasion for networking, new acquaintances, recruitment to the network and valuable learning experiences.
I was also given the opportunity of attending a meeting with the Secretary General of the Congress and the Secretary General of the AER, and research possibilities for further collaboration between the YRN and the youth delegates.
As a YRN representative, I made a contribution about young people’s ability to contribute to the localisation of the SDGs in a more diverse and, in many ways, more holistic way than adults often are able to and bureaucratic processes allow.
The “Rejuvenating Politics” initiative sends a clear signal to member states about the importance of strengthening the youth perspective and involving young people in the decision-making processes at local and regional level. Still, there are ways of further strengthening the youth participation in the Congress and in the Council of Europe in its entirety.
The Congress is an essential arena for further developing democracy and human rights at local and regional level as well as monitoring local and regional elections in Europe. Their work is very exciting, especially for those involved at local, regional and international level! The inclusion of young people on this arena is, as always, important!