Ukraine: Getting youth involved in local government

Increasing youth participation in local government is at the heart of DRI’s “Young People as the Drivers of Change in Your Region! Be the Change – 2020” programme, organised in collaboration with the Centre for Perspective Initiatives and Studies.

This second instalment of the programme brought together 17 young people who combined learning about local governance with practical experience through an internship with the Lviv regional government and city administration.

The programme included six training modules to give participants a sound understanding of the framework in which local governments operate in Ukraine. Although planned to take place in person, the covid-19 pandemic and resulting quarantine forced participants to move to an online format:

  • The first training weekend was dedicated to a detailed review of the system of public authorities and local governments in Ukraine. Trainees learned how to prepare reference and information documents, write official letters, requests, and analytical materials.
  • The second thematic module focused on decentralisation and local government reform, notably the structural elements of the reform, and community development planning. The trainees visited one of the amalgamated communities of the Lviv region, where they were introduced to the reform’s results, challenges and prospects for community development.
  • During the third training session, we discussed Ukraine’s European integration efforts and the implementation of the country’s association agreement with the EU. Participants learned the agreement’s main components and how they are implemented.
  • The importance of clear and understandable communication is often underestimated by public authorities, which provokes misunderstandings between the state and its citizens. Participants learned how to prepare communication campaigns, identify and deliver key messages and master the basics of public speaking.
  • The next thematic block focused on preparing important administrative documents, such as writing analytical notes on issues like legislative initiatives and navigating government plans and strategies.
  • The last training session was dedicated to media literacy, studying the most common types of media manipulation and verifying information using open sources.

After the completion of the training modules, participants pursued internships with the local authorities at both the local and regional levels.

Showing initiative

Participant’s input and ideas were valued throughout the programme. During one of the training sessions, participants were asked to draw up a plan for creating an air quality monitoring system in Lviv. Supported by the trainer, participants prepared a detailed proposal that was then sent to Lviv’s mayor and city council.

Additionally, participants were asked to design a communication campaign to implement a local initiative. Many of these focused on the environment and eco-tourism, while others addressed pressing issues related to the covid-19 pandemic.

For example, Victoria Biloborodova developed a campaign to involve local parents and help the city organise e-learning for students quarantined at home. Olena Pokalchuk designed a campaign promoting waste composting and alternative ways of handling fallen leaves and branches for Lviv’s residents. Bohdan Stanchuk, on the other hand, promoted a project aimed at developing the potential of regional tourism among young people.

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