On 3 October, the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy (AHCD) kicked off its Democracy Week programme with a public event that resonated with the week’s theme this year – “Empowering the next generation”. The event sought to take stock of lessons learned from youth engagement at the local level and look at opportunities for renewed democratic engagement of young people in cities in Europe.
Taking place against the backdrop of UNECE’s Forum of Mayors, the event hosted two representatives, Christina Kitsos from Geneva and Andrea Tobia Zevi from Rome, who discussed their experience and the innovations in their cities. It was organised alongside a policy workshop on the same theme the next day as part of the activities of the project Protest and engagement, from the global to the local: Mapping the forms of youth participation in Europe.
Welcoming remarks were provided by the two institutions that co-organised the event: Graziella Moraes Silva, Co-Director of AHCD, Geneva Graduate Institute, presented Democracy Week’s concept and partners, and noted its importance for AHCD. Frédéric Josselin, Head of Department of Citizen Participation, Office of Urbanism at the Département du territoire, Canton of Geneva, said young people could have a transformative effect on democracies.
Christine Lutringer, Executive Director and Senior Researcher at AHCD, moderated the event and presented the above-mentioned research project.
Representing the Housing and Land Management Unit, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Thomas Hartley presented some key takeaways from the Forum of Mayors, underscoring the need for a new kind of multilateralism where cities could play a crucial role, and the need for more inclusive, participatory approaches to local governance.
His presentation was followed by the two keynote speeches: Christina Kitsos, Deputy Mayor of Geneva in charge of Social Cohesion and Solidarity, then highlighted initiatives from the City of Geneva to consult and foster the participation of children and youth. Andrea Tobia Zevi, Deputy Mayor of Rome in charge of Heritage and Housing, spoke about the role of local governments in mitigating young people’s loss of trust in democratic institutions.
The event was simultaneously translated in the four languages used in the project activities: French, English, Italian and Spanish.