Statement on the 2nd anniversary of Sustainable Development GoalsCategory: News, Press Release
Decision-makers on the local level play a key role in enabling citizens to get involved in political processes further remote from the local level and thus, have an important responsibility in the well-functioning of European democracies. As core democratic units close to its citizens, local authorities are uniquely well placed to engage citizens, and especially young people, in political and decision-making processes. In other words, local authorities are perfectly placed to encourage active citizenship among young people.
Citizens’ growing disinterest in political matters and the widening gap they perceive to exist between decision-makers and themselves have recently come to the fore all across Europe. Low voter turnouts, especially among young people, as well as the rise of extremist parties with an openly anti-democratic agenda are signs of the challenges democracy faces today.
Young people in particular need to understand the democratic structures they live in. Their willingness to actively participate in making the decisions that will affect their daily lives must be taken into account if we are to revive democracy. After all, grassroots local democracy is the first link of a long chain. Its immediate proximity to decision-making arenas offers young people platforms for participation that no other level can offer.
That is why JEF Europe, in the framework of the LADDER Project (‘’Local Authorities as Drivers for Development Education and Raising awareness’’), led by ALDA (European Association for Local Democracy), calls on local authorities to cooperate more closely with youth organisations to strengthen the participation of young people in political life. More specifically, we are convinced that through fruitful cooperation between local authorities and youth organisations it is possible to reach innovative solutions to Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) issues.
In particular, JEF Europe wishes to highlight that young people have huge potential as agents working towards the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Hence, we call on local authorities to give stronger support to youth organisations already working for the SDGs, and, where applicable, to get more of them involved in their own locally-driven projects aimed at the fulfilment of the Goals.
Furthermore, local authorities should recognise the role youth organisations can play as multipliers to forge inter-regional connections for cooperation on joint projects, since they are generally part of a much wider network with a large outreach. Thus, they are the ideal partners to engage in sourcing viable and innovative solutions to a wide-ranging number of issues, including but not limited to those raised by the SDGs.
Beyond this, local authorities should step up their efforts in providing civic education for youth, for instance by providing more formal or non-formal education. As a result, young people would ideally feel encouraged to participate more in civic and political life than they currently do.
As future global citizens, young people want to collectively shape their own life environments, which must therefore be responsive to their needs and ambitions. Thus, local authorities that invest in fostering their democratic competences and participation will send out a strong message in favour of youth involvement to regional, national and international levels. And by raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and engaging young people in their implementation, local authorities will enable them to develop a vision of the future that is based on democratic values and global in its outlook - to the benefit of democracy worldwide.
As Young European Federalists, we are striving for deeper and more steady relationships with local authorities. We strongly believe in the added-value of volunteering and solidarity actions for the strengthening of the social fabric and therefore, we intend to establish strong and long-lasting partnerships with the aim of tackling development challenges. This is why, on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders in September 2015, we call on local authorities to get active implementing projects related to the SDGs and involving youth organisations in their implementation. JEF stands ready to collaborate with every stakeholder willing to accomplish the same ambitions.
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More information on JEF Europe
The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO active in more than 35 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life.
JEF Europe Secretariat
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1000 Brussels - Belgium