Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New report on young people's participation in planning and urban regeneration

Ecorys, a U.K. research firm, in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, have just published a report documenting their study of existing research on youth participation in planning and urban regeneration in the U.K. The authors examined a range of participation practices and determined that the most successful practices had a number of factors in common:
  1. Official recognition of children’s fundamental rights;
  2. Broad-based and inclusive partnerships;
  3. Political and cultural sensitivity;
  4. "Child-friendly" planning processes and structures;
  5. Support from skilled intermediaries;
  6. A range of participation methods;
  7. Understanding participation as a process of learning and change;
  8. Openness and reciprocal learning between children and adults;
  9. An incremental and realistic approach;
  10. Visibility in the results; and
  11. Embedding at different levels and spatial scales.

Several socio-political conditions were often present within the most sustained and embedded examples of participation:
  • A strong culture of municipal leadership and innovation and a willingness to adapt existing planning frameworks or governance structures to manage participation in a coordinated way;
  • The active and widespread political mobilization of young people and adults, along with a willingness from local authorities to engage in advocacy alongside NGOs and other grassroots organizations; and
  • Acceptance by adults of young people’s contribution as economic agents in their own right, whether in paid employment or through wider forms of civic participation that provide value to society.
The report notes the limits of current research with respect to long-term outcomes for communities and young people, but describes important short-term outcomes and the importance of the mode or structure of participation in determining those outcomes. Also included are some strategies that, the authors write, deserve further consideration.

This is a useful report that draws together a number of previous studies. Although this study focused on participation in planning and regeneration, the results have important implications for youth participation in general. So you should read it!

You can find the full report in the research section of the Leading Now website. There is also a summary of the report, which you can find here.

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