Event - Other

Good Practice Webinar: ‘Rural youth participation in policymaking’

This webinar, organised by the Rural Pact Support Office, will provide youth organisations, policymakers and other stakeholders an opportunity to reflect and exchange on successful methods of youth engagement based on the experiences of rural young people.

  • - CEST
  • English
  • Online
  • Learn about practices, policies and tools effective in improving rural youth engagement in decision-making processes at local, national and EU levels;

  • Enable exchanges on and learning from local experiences and initiatives that facilitate active participation of youngsters;

  • Build participants' capacity to promote solutions adapted to the specificities of rural young people;

  • Encourage and mobilise Rural Pact community members to make a commitment to the Pact by undertaking actions on youth empowerment and democratic participation.

English language


(PDF – 158.39 KB)

Rural youth participation in policymaking

Meaningful youth participation is fundamental to a well-functioning democracy, fostering inclusivity and social cohesion. Enhancing the involvement of rural youth in key policy decisions is essential in creating ownership of a promising future in rural areas. This stands as a key element to counter rural depopulation and the migration of talent to urban centres. However, achieving this participation demands ongoing commitment and proactive initiatives from policymakers, coupled with the ability to establish connections and build trust with the younger generation.

The ‘Defence of Democracy’ package, a Recommendation advocating high democratic standards, encourages Member States to undertake targeted efforts to empower the participation of young people in political and democratic processes at local, regional, and national levels, including rural and remote areas.

Building on the achievements of the 2022 European Year of Youth, the European Commission announced in January 2024 several actions that give young people a greater say in the decisions that affect them and deepen the youth dimension in a range of EU policies. Nonetheless, the European Union Youth Strategy 2019-2027 acknowledges that despite the overarching commitment to rural development across the EU, notable distinctions persist between living in urban and rural areas. The Strategy emphasises the significance of establishing equality for young people in both urban and rural settings. This includes ensuring that young individuals in rural areas actively participate in decision-making processes and feel sufficiently represented. 

A number of initiatives are working to create circumstances for young people in rural regions to connect and engage in political and democratic processes. At local level, many youth initiatives have flourished with the support of the LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs). An example is the Italian Meridaunia LAG that runs a business incubator to support young entrepreneurs.

At EU level, the Erasmus + programmeEuropean Solidarity Corps and the European Youth Portal, are some of the initiatives that have created opportunities for young people to engage in dialogue, training, networking and many other activities across Europe. 

An example is the youth-led initiative Rural Youth Europe, working to enhance the lives of rural young people through providing intercultural learning opportunities that encourage advocacy and respect for others. 

The COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) programme funded the Rural NEET Youth Network, a multidisciplinary network aiming to develop a support model for rural youth at risk of social exclusion. Participating in decision-making processes may pose a bigger barrier for this particular group.

Engaging young people in rural areas in policymaking is hindered by: limited access to information; educational disparities; economic challenges; inadequate infrastructure; lack of representation; difficulties in being heard and considered equal. Overcoming these barriers requires a comprehensive approach addressing issues related to education, infrastructure, representation, and fostering a sense of political empowerment among young people.

The EU’s Rural Vision outlines ten shared objectives to be achieved by 2040. To accomplish these, it is essential to amplify the voices of the young people living in rural areas, as the generation that will shape the future of these territories. Empowering them would ensure they work towards a more enriching rural life and shape the future of their areas. 

Additional info

Rural Pact Support Office