Cities have emerged as central spaces to find solutions to the demands of citizens in pluralistic societies and have been one of the most proactive and productive political forces in launching institutions of participation such as participatory budgeting and citizen assemblies (Zaremberg and Welp, 2020). In no area is this currently more contentious and urgent than in environmental issues: half a decade after the adoption of the New Urban Agenda and the Paris Agreement, nearly one thousand cities around the world have committed to one or more forms of climate action, many of which are more ambitious than their national governments’ (Arikan et al., 2020). Despite these new commitments, climate strikes at the local level have continued, with several European cities welcoming over 100,000 protesters at the height of the strikes in September 2019. Among young people’s claims was that they still felt excluded from not just national, but also local decision-making: “nothing about us, without us”, many claimed (Bullon-Cassis, 2022). Why does this happen, and does it happen in different institutional settings or are there institutional and political settings that are more open and closer to youth demands?
This project interrogates the actual use – and the awareness – of local democratic mechanisms and arenas of participation. By looking at the connections (or lack of) between instances of environmental protests to the concomitant use of institutional mechanisms at the local level, it aims to shed new light on the conditions to improve democratic governance in the Anthropocene, the distinct period during which human activities have had an environmental impact on the Earth. The second thread of our project will, more broadly, be developed at the level of labour market participation and governance. In fact, participation is also deeply shaped by another path through which youth integrate in society, namely labour markets and the workplace.