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Alpine municipalities strengthen youth participation

Exchanging experiences on equal terms: youth and politicians in dialogue during the closing stages of YSAM. © Josef Biedermann

If municipalities wish to introduce policies that will meet the expectations of coming generations, they have to be able to offer their young people something. The YSAM project has shown how youth participation can be strengthened in Alpine communities. A new label is being used in Switzerland to mark youth-friendly municipalities.

Drawing on the project “Youth Shaping Alpine Municipalities” (YSAM), local councillor Josef Biedermann concludes: “In Planken we have seen that politicians have to exchange and engage with young people. This is the only way for participation to succeed”. Over the course of one and a half years, the YSAM project brought together young people, politicians and youth workers from seven Alpine municipalities in Italy, Slovenia, Germany and Liechtenstein, with the focus on international exchanges of experience. After the project was over, youth participation continued with each municipality implementing a project together with the young people. For example, in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, bags made of fabric and designed by young people will help reduce the flood of plastic. The project is backed by the “Alpine Town of the Year” association and sponsored by the European Union’s “Youth in Action” programme and the Heidehof foundation. CIPRA ran the YSAM scheme and provided technical support.

Municipalities in Switzerland that make particular efforts to address the concerns of young people can now apply for the new label of “youth-friendly mountain villages” from the Swiss Working Group for Mountain Areas (SAB). The SAB wants to reverse the trend of young people drifting away from these communities. The first awards have already been made: the label will in future be granted to municipalities selected by their young people according to criteria established by the SAB.

Source and further information:  http://www.alpenstaedte.org/de/projekte/jugend/ysam (de), http://www.jugend-im-berggebiet.ch/ (de)

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