Future PolicyShapers Programme

IMPRESSIONS ​FROM THIS TRAINING

Background:
Social change does not occur by accident and it can never happen without the equal participation of the youth of the local community. It requires dedication, courage, and societal commitment. And to effectively realize our transformation prospects for our societies, we have to be able to apply several tools such as advocacy, activism, campaigning, and lobbying. These are the necessary instruments to tackle not only the existing challenges, but also any other emerging ones. Therefore, the youth has to be ready at all times to tackle unprecedented challenges to avoid or mitigate their negative repercussions. However, ‘how do we prepare for something that we do not know is coming?’ This training was an attempted intervention to answer to this daunting question. The Programme provided the participants with advanced social skills such as public speaking, research, policy development, and negotiation. Together these skills can help youths to better communicate and achieve the goals of their group or community. No matter if it is a social, economic, political or educational issue, these skills are applicable to any field and they can help youths to develop new perspectives and shape new policies.

Learning experience:
This Programme was designed based on the needs and issues of youths by considering their learning needs and their time constraints due to academia and other commitments. Therefore, the Programme was very flexible and helped 28 participants to learn and develop. The Programme consisted of two complementary parts. The first part was 5 practical workshops. Each workshop was one day long and they were organized on five weekends in November 2021 and January 2022. This was followed by the second part of the Programme, which was a 3-day event titled "Democratic Institutions Model Conference" from 30. January to 1. February 2022. The conference offered an outstanding opportunity to apply and use the skills that the youth participants learned in the previous five workshops. This conference had a thematic focus on Digital Rights and Digital Privacy and Cybersecurity and its goal was to reach a "resolution" document combining the taken decisions made through the discussions and debates among all participants. Through the methods of Democratic Participation and Structured Dialogue, the participants learned how to engage in political debates; but more significantly, how to shape viable and innovative policies. Finally, the Programme concluded by a farewell event afterwards. This event included an open discussion with two political guests and then the Graduation Ceremony for all participants. 

Practicalities:
This training took place in Vienna, Austria for 28 young leaders between 20 and 30 years old who are based in Austria (both citizens and residents) who have been eager to learn new skills, methods and tools to improve their civic participation and policymaking capacities and to better engage in the civic society. Teamwork, cooperation and democratic participation and structured dialogue were the core principles shared by all participants. The training was free of charge. It was financed by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. Thanks to this generous fund, we covered all the costs for the training, materials, content, meals, breaks, and transportation. For successful participation, the participants had to first fill in an application form to apply, then commit to at least 80% of the training program, sign the learning agreement, and implement the follow-up initiatives.

 Project outputs and results? 

As a follow-up and to apply and multiply the competences learned in the project, the participants created two awareness-raising videos about digital footprint and cybersecurity. One video is in German with a focus on knowledge and one in English with a focus on personal experiences.

These two videos were supported by the creation of a Poster and a Flyer about digital footprint and cybersecurity to reach out to more people of different ages and backgrounds via different forms. These were printed out and distributed to various youth groups and also to local schools.

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As a basis for these follow-up outputs and initiatives, the group discussions and "negotiations" led to the drafting of so-called "resolutions" in the format of policymaking working papers. The participants first practised on an environmental topic, then on the cybersecurity theme.

Future Policyshapers Agenda
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 What do the participants say about this training?