With almost a third of its population under 35, Lviv has been awarded the title European Capital of Youth 2025. As of 1 January 2022, the Ukrainian city was among the top five in the country that could offer favourable conditions for youth, according to 61% of its residents.
In the same survey, 84% of Ukrainians believed that the young generation has decent future prospects in Ukraine. The younger the respondent was, the more optimistic they were.
The situation changed dramatically two months after the survey. Nevertheless, Lviv is committed to working to ensure the best life conditions not only for future generations but also for the present youth.
Move local, freedom guards
Since the beginning of Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, Lviv has been a transit city for internally displaced people and hosted thousands of Ukrainians. The local youth have taken the initiative in creating and scaling the volunteer movement in the city, leading to cooperation with international and national organisations.
“It’s not only about Lviv,” says Andriy Moskalenko, First Deputy Mayor of Lviv. “It’s about all Ukrainian cities. This year (following the Russian invasion), there was a very strong position of our youth. Some joined the military, some became volunteers (…). Ukrainian youth did and are doing great things. It’s a recognition of them”.
— Erion Veliaj #EYC2022 🇪🇺🇦🇱 (@erionveliaj) November 23, 2022
‘MoLo mission now – We are freedom guards’ is the slogan of European Capital of Youth 2025. ‘MoLo’ is an abbreviation of ‘Move Local,’ indicating that the potential for developing countries and Europe lies in cities and local communities.
“After 24 February, our young people haven’t stood aside from the defense of freedom and democracy,” the city’s application for European Youth Capital states. “Freedom is the highest measure of responsibility for oneself, one’s environment, one’s communities, one’s city, one’s state and our Europe.”
Indeed, the European Youth Capital 2025 programme, which is planned to start as soon as 2023, belongs to the recovery strategy for the whole youth sphere of Ukraine.
The first level of the plan focuses on every young person to ensure their needs to survive, live and develop. ‘Survive’ is about adapting to the current conditions of the full-scale war. ‘Live’ aims to work on how to live, act and cooperate for the recovery of Ukraine. ‘Develop’ aims to develop one’s environment and bring existing interactions to qualitatively new levels.
The second level engages groups such as NGOs, youth initiatives, church communities, national minorities, street cultures, informal groups, etc. And the last level focuses on creating and realising cooperation opportunities for youth at the local and national levels.
Lviv’s European Youth Capital programme
Lviv’s European Youth Capital programme for 2025 aims to engage the youth in high-level debates. For example, the Youth Security Forum will be an annual platform for a high-level discussion on relevant security matters, focusing on youth and their role in contributing to security issues. The Festival OL will aim to popularise science and technology. MoloDvizh Europe is a large-scale, annual 24‑hour youth event which combines training, discussions, networking, entertainment, relaxation and inspiration.
Dysarium will be a large-scale festival in creative industries and media. It will gather young people interested in this field and connect them with experts to learn more about the perspectives of work in the creative industries, improve their skills, network, etc. The main goal is to connect people from different parts of Europe who work in creative industries.
“We have very concrete plans,” adds Moskalenko. “We will open an office of Youth Capital in our city (in 2023). We have already started working with our Ambassadors, who will be spreading these ideas (with the values of the European Youth) all over Ukraine and all over the world. We will provide activities not only in 2025 (…), but we plan to do it in the nearest future to engage more and more young people”.
The Biennale of Volunteering is a global pan-European forum dedicated to volunteering to exchange on the volunteer movement, projects, tools of volunteer work, etc. The Congress of European Youth Capitals will be a regular event to discuss news in the field of youth policy, exchange experience, network, establish partnerships and joint projects and promote the title itself.
Lviv also plans to create the Urban Festival, an open platform for young people’s joint actions to develop their urban dream, district and neighbourhood and hold topical discussions about the city.
Lviv, the city that inspires youth
Lviv’s commitment to including the youth in decision-making can be seen through different initiatives. Last year, Lviv received Child and Youth Friendly Municipality status from UNICEF. “The war, no matter how painful and exhausting it is emotionally and economically, hasn’t shaken the spirit of the youth community of Lviv and Ukraine,” says the application.
Lviv also received the title of Ukrainian Youth Capital, which led to the creation of the first municipal Youth Action Plan. Youth organisations and student councils participate actively in developing and implementing strategies. Lviv is also the pioneer city in the country in establishing a separate youth department in the structure of the City Council.
In 2018, a Children’s Advisory Board was established in the City Council. The Board consists of 12 members aged 12–16 years old that have implemented ten projects in the past three years. Students are also involved in a formal decision-making process through the functioning of the Lviv Student Council, which was established in 2009 and now accounts for 42 delegates from Lviv universities.
The European Youth Forum awards the European Youth Capital title to empower young people, boost their participation and strengthen European identity through youth-related activities on culture, social matters, politics and economic life and development. The first youth capital was awarded in 2009.
This year, 19 municipalities have applied for the European Youth Capital title, four of which made it to the final round – Fuenlabrada (Spain), Izmir (Turkey), Lviv (Ukraine) and Tromsø (Norway).