Active Youth Association and 5 other organisations has carried out a research on youth involvement and willingness to get involved to urban planning decisions in Lithuania, France, Sweden, Cyprus, Italy and Spain. It was a part of a wider project (funded by Erasmus+), dubbed “Project Your City” (acronym: PYC). PYC is a meeting between youth and policy makers, which is going to take place in Kaunas, Lithuania (February 22 – March 1) 2017. The goal of the research was two-fold:
- to identify the needs of youngsters with regards to urban planning;
- select the most motivated participants for the dialogue and provide them with task-related support.
Over 200 young people were inquired across the project countries.
Sample: most of the youngsters researched were Lithuanian (73%) and female (71%). While over a half belonged to the age group of 18 to 24. Similarly, 52% were hailing from urban areas.[divider]
Youngsters mostly would like open youth centres (desirability: 75.4%) and infrastructure for biking (73.4%) in their areas of living. While, shopping zones (desirability: 41.9%) and skate parks (desirability: 44.3%) are of the least preference.
Most of the participants of the survey have never been consulted / has never heard of anyone being consulted by policy makers regarding urban / community planning. Their share was: 82.38%
Looking at the possible of communication with policy makers, the young participants had clear preferences. They have stated that the most desirable way to get involved in decision making, is when politicians (or urban planners) visit their schools/youth centres and discuss the plans. Such interaction received 71.5% desirability, whereas going to the city hall or similar institution was the least desirable option (58.8%).
Lastly, the participants have self-graded their readiness to help city/community planners in such consultations. The average grade given was 3.67 out of maximum 5 (when considering the required competences/knowledge).
Report on the research also included recommendations for youngsters, policy makers, the meeting of “Project Your City” and future research. These were as following:
For youngsters: not to shy away when asking their schools / youth centres to organise policy makers’ visits; choose an existing good practice and adapt it to fit their needs and surroundings.
For policy makers: visit youth organisations / schools and hold open discussions there; use more research rather than intuition (when policy planning).
For the meeting: focus not on teaching the youth how to communicate with policy makers, but how to make viable urban planning propositions; set guidelines for future youth involvement.
For future research: be more area specific; research not only the young, but also people in decision making institutions/government. [divider_top]
All in all, the sample of the research is too small to make sure conclusions. However, the research has somewhat helped to better identify the needs and preferences of young population when it comes to community planning. It will be used in preparation for the said meeting.