“Youth voice must be heard – not only during a strike on the steps of the Parliament House”

There is a difference between ‘hearing’ young people and ‘working with’ young people, Demos Helsinki’s Sofia Rahikainen emphasised in ministers’ discussion.

I participated in the roundtable discussion From Climate Anxiety to Climate Empowerment – What are the Cures. It was held by ministers Krista Mikkonen, Li Andersson and Hanna Kosonen.

In the discussion, I emphasised that it is a political responsibility to create mechanisms for youth participation and to translate them into real action.

There are one million young Finnish people under 18 outside the roundtable. They do not have the possibility to vote. As the old laws of participation do not apply, we need to rethink the ways of influencing.

There is a difference between ‘hearing’ young people and ‘working with’ young people.

Hearing is important, but it’s even more important to integrate activity with the decision-making.

One concrete example is a process where different youth groups create proposals for the content of the Climate Act. These visions would serve as material for law-making. Another option, in line with the Icelandic model, is to increase digital participation.

The government programme says that 1) we need to create a long-term policy, 2) base all our decisions on knowledge and experimentation, and 3) learn from what we do.

Continually learning, long-term, and knowledge-based decision-making is at the core of what Demos Helsinki has been working on for over a decade.

If we genuinely want young people to be involved in the preparation of ambitious climate law, we can make this an entirely new kind of democracy experiment. An experiment that creates new ways of interacting and participating.

If – and when – the government has the honest will to make this a reality, we promise to help in every possible way.

Writer: Sofia Rahikainen / @sofiarahik

Article photo: OKM / Katarina Koch