Cascais (PT) bets on its young people and involves them in its governance

Ana Resende

By Ana Resende, on August 8th, 2018

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Young people have something to say about their school conditions and their environment but often lack access to governance structures that take them into account. That is why the Portuguese City of Cascais has chosen to invest in involving its young people (from 10 to 17) in its democratic governance (Good Practice – Bridging the Gap )

In this video, produced by the municipality of Cascais, one can feel the enthusiasm of the young population when it is challenged to propose improvements on their schools by voting. It shows how much of an open mind the youngsters have to listen to what “the other” has to say.

The experience of Cascais in participatory budgets

The municipality of Cascais already has extensive experience in the organisation of participatory budgets (PB) for adults (eight so far). According to Cascais’s experience, participatory budgets “counteract” the spirit of resignation one can observe when citizens are called to vote in the local elections.

The PB initiative of Cascais was in fact recognised as an URBACT Good Practice in June 2017 and was successfully presented at the City Festival, in Tallinn.

The Young Participatory Budget

The Youth PB is a much more recent process, with two editions already completed. It is the only YPB that dared to give young people the power to design the rules of the process: their proposals were transformed into municipal deliberative regulations.

In fact, the Youth PB of Cascais was recognized as one of the best practices of citizen participation in Portugal.

The objectives of the Youth PB are to develop, from an early age, the taste for participative democracy, and to bring young people closer to the sphere of political decisions which concern them. The promotion of education for citizenship is, therefore, an important target of the City Council.

At the end of each Youth PB cycle, the satisfaction of the school community is visible. The students have their proposals recognised and these are taken into account by the City Council. This is considered very important for their future, for the understanding of their rights and duties as citizens committed to the construction of a more just, equitable and tolerant society.

The process

CASCAIS_youthOf course, the setting up of the Youth PB process is complex and it is as demanding as the construction of the general PB. What else could be expected from a municipality that takes this matter very seriously, to the extent that it created, in its organizational structure, a division with the name “Citizenship and Participation”?

Cascais is the European Capital of Youth 2018. Another example of good practice!

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