Historic decision gives young people greater influence in Nordic policy

28.10.22 | News
Rasmus Emborg UNR
Johannes Jansson
The Nordic Youth Council is allowed to speak during the entire Session of the Nordic Council in Helsinki. This gives young people the same right to debate proposals as the other 87 parliamentarians in the Nordic Council. The new scheme will give young people in the Nordic Region greater opportunities to shape Nordic policy.

In the past, the Nordic Youth Council (NYC) has had the opportunity to debate only a few items on the agenda during the Sessions of the Nordic Council. Exactly which items on the agenda varied. This meant that the NYC had limited opportunities to influence the decisions made at the Sessions of the Nordic Council.

During the September meeting of the Nordic Council in Iceland this year, the Presidium of the Nordic Council decided that the NYC will have the right to speak on all agenda items at the Sessions of the Nordic Council. This means that, through discussion, the NYC can influence the decisions of the Nordic Council during the Session.

“This means that the decisions made in the Nordic Council to a greater extent reflect the views and priorities of young people in the Nordic Region. Even more of the proposals from young people can become a reality. This is hugely significant for Nordic co-operation and the future of the Nordic Region,” says Kristina Háfoss Secretary General of the Secretariat to the Nordic Council in Copenhagen.

The international youth organisation NYC celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The NYC is unique in the Nordic Region for its work to give young people the opportunity to influence policy decisions in Nordic co-operation.

New perspectives on Nordic issues

Throughout the year, the NYC has strived to gain more influence on policies. In dialogue with the Nordic Council, the NYC has requested to have the same right to speak as other parliamentarians. The NYC would like to have the opportunity to contribute new perspectives on solutions to the challenges that the Nordic Region is facing.

“During this year, we’ve had good dialogue with Nordic parliamentarians and staff at the Nordic Council about the importance of involving young people. We’ve done our best to come up with comprehensive and innovative proposals from our perspective on Nordic issues and have received positive feedback. This has meant that we’ve gained more influence, which made the debate about getting more speaking time a natural next step,” says Rasmus Emborg, President of the Nordic Youth Council.  

No to youth-washing

Kristina Háfoss points out the importance of young people not only being represented, but also being properly included in Nordic policy-making.

“It’s important that there are real opportunities for influence, not merely participation. With the decision of the Presidium of the Nordic Council, we’ve made sure that the NYC has concrete influence on the policy decisions of the Nordic Council,” says Háfoss.

In order to ensure that the NYC gains influence on policy, the Nordic Council has established a new practice for how the NYC should be included. In addition, dialogue with the Secretariat of the NYC and the Nordic Council is ongoing with a view to continuing the development of co-operation so that it benefits the NYC, the Nordic Council and Nordic co-operation – both now and in the future.

Mental health, the leading role of the Nordic Region, and the fight against climate change

The NYC will use its newly expanded influence for the first time at the Session of the Nordic Council in Helsinki. The youth politicians will focus on mental health, the fight against climate change, and how the Nordic Region can be a discerning voice for the world in the fight for freedom and democracy.

“One in four young people today suffers from mental illness. We need to look at how we can get more young people involved in meaningful communities where they can get out of their own heads and be part of something bigger. In addition, it’s crucial that we continue the fight for freedom and democracy in the world; The Nordic Region must be a global light for those who dare to take the lead in the fight for a better world. Last but not least, too many young people feel that the climate measures aren’t sufficient. We have to do better at involving young people in the fight against climate change and present our results so that young people can see them,” says Rasmus Emborg.