Europe's future depends on its youth. Promoting youth participation is fundamental in the EU policy. Especially for environmental issues, the participation of young people in decision making is extremely important, as decisions taken now on matters such as climate change, the depletion of resources, and the loss of biodiversity will have long-term consequences that will affect the future generations. Young people will have to live longer with the consequences of current decisions, and have special concerns and responsibilities in relation to the environment. The concept of public participation is also a fundamental principle in environmental law, while the Aarhus Convention (signed by the European Community and its Member States in 1998) gives the public the right to obtain information on environmental issues and participate in decision-making.
However, according to recent findings of the Eurobarometer, half of the young people tend to distrust the European Union. Traditional channels of representative democracy, such as voting at elections and joining political parties, only partially stimulate young people’s interest in active participation.
In this light, STEP aims to motivate young people to participate in decision making in environmental issues. The main component of STEP will be an eParticipation platform which will facilitate the interaction between policy makers and young people, combining trend spotting and foresight with idea creation and innovation management, and will enable policy makers to analyse and discover new insights, based on well proven analytical methods.
The main objectives of STEP are:
- To enable public authorities to quickly open their decision-making procedures to young people
- To enable young citizens to participate in decision-making on issues with environmental impact by:
-providing them with personalised information on decisions under consultation;
-giving them the opportunity to express their opinion;
-informing them on what other people are saying on the specific issues of interest, filtering information from noisy content in social media and web streams, and providing it translated in their own language;
-giving them the opportunity to bring issues to the attention of policy makers
- To develop engagement and motivation strategies for increasing youth participation in environmental decision making
- To pilot test the services in an operational environment in terms of technical, organisational and legal feasibility, with the participation of end users (young citizens) and policy makers
- To assess the usability, effectiveness and impact of the project in embedding open engagement in public sector processes, and to identify the key barriers for wide scale deployment