Random selection among Copenhagen youth

06. August 2021
UK Parliament (CC BY-NC 2.0)

In order to get more young people interested in local politics, the Danish capital Copenhagen invited young people between 16 and 24 to a citizens' jury. From all those interested, 24 participants were randomly selected.

Local politics is probably not the most exciting topic of conversation for young people. Waste separation, more parking spaces or better standards in day-care centres are not necessarily part of their everyday life. So how can local politicians make decisions that have a positive impact on young people's daily lives? The city of Copenhagen wanted to find out.

Recommendations for mayor and city council

In cooperation with the organisation Demokrati Garage, the municipality invited all young Copenhageners between the ages of 16 and 24 to a Citizens' Jury on Young Copenhagen. The assembly handed over recommendations for a good life for young people to the Lord Mayor and City Council in December 2021.

"Basically, it's about opening up the democratic conversation. Especially for young people. I think it is very important that politics becomes relevant for young people, and that is where they can talk about their everyday life and their interests," Franciska Rosenkilde, Mayor for Culture and Recreation, said about the project.

Better insight for politicians

"I hope that the young people who participate will feel a little bit that they themselves have become wiser and have had the opportunity to say what is close to their hearts. I also hope that it will give us politicians a better insight into what is on their minds," Rosenkilde said.

All residents between the ages of 16 and 24 had received the invitation to the citizens' jury by email. The final jury consisted of 24 randomly selected young people from all those who applied by 22 August 2021. To reflect the diversity of young people in Copenhagen, the sortition process took into account the age, gender, origin and education of the applicants. The launch event took place on 14 September 2021. The Citizens' Assembly ended on 27 November 2021.

Recommendations presented

On 9 December 2021, members of the Youth Citizens' Jury presented their recommendations at Copenhagen City Hall. The 14 recommendations deal in particular with mental health, housing, climate and civic participation. Among other things, the young people would like to see a better housing offer for young people. The various waiting lists for social housing should be merged and people with low incomes should be supported with more housing subsidies. By 2029, the city of Copenhagen should reduce its CO2 emissions in the housing sector by 40 per cent.

The recommendations also include calls for more funding for youth mental health and less pressure in the education system. Teachers should be able to provide assistance to mentally ill students. The grading system should be reformed. Mentally ill young people should have the right to be treated within a reasonable period of time.

Climate action and democracy

On the issue of climate action, young people want green spaces to be protected from development. In the city, alternatives to car traffic should be strengthened and the prices for public transport should be lowered. From 2025 there should be weekly car-free days. Other proposals relate to waste avoidance, recycling and sustainable nutrition. For example, carbon consumption from food is to be reduced by 75 percent by 2030.

In order to strengthen democracy, it should increasingly be a topic in schools. It is proposed to bring young people more into contact with politicians and representatives of associations. Separate committees are to be set up for young people. In addition, they should be given the right to support petitions to the city council. The establishment of a youth citizens' jury or a permanent youth city council is also recommended. In the long term, a citizens' jury with rotating members should become part of the political decision-making process.

Engaging young people in democracy

"I think it is important that democracy is as close to the people as possible, that we involve young people in democracy and make them feel that they are heard. This means that we as politicians - on behalf of the people - have a better chance to make decisions that matter to young people", Mayor Franciska Rosenkilde said about the citizens' jury.

More Information: Borgersamling Unges København

Image source: Flickr Image licence: CC BY-NC 2.0