Eurocities member Ghent has been awarded the title European Youth Capital 2024.
With 2024 now a target, Ghent aims to make its youth policies stronger, better and more inclusive. “We want to create a framework to empower young people to experiment, co-create, engage themselves and become involved in their neighbourhood, their district and their city,” states the youth plan.
The programme presented, named “We are the city”, outlines three main pillars: engage, empower, and care for the youth. These focus areas represent how young people are active actors in shaping the future of the city.
Firstly, Ghent aims to engage young people in active citizenship and volunteer work. The city highlights actions on climate change awareness or collaboration in non-profit organisations, among others.
It also aims to create space and opportunities for young people, allow room to experiment and make them co-creators of city life. Top priorities for the city’s youth population include more public and green spaces and safer mobility methods.
Lastly, Ghent highlights the importance of young people’s mental and physical well-being. As mental health is a major issue among young people, the need for more free and accessible support is urgent. The city has also developed policies to contribute to the non-discrimination of people and tackling poverty.
Mathias De Clercq, Mayor of Ghent, stated: “We will use this title to elevate young people and let them shape the future of our city themselves”. According to the city, this is an excellent opportunity to act at the European level, improving European childhood and youth policies.
Ghent’s implementation of European Youth Capital 2024 coincides with the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU in the first semester of 2024 and with the European elections for which, for the first time, young people from the age of 16 can vote in Belgium.
Ghent and Lviv were nominated to become the European Youth Capital 2024 last March. You can read more about the preliminary steps here.
To know more about European Youth Capital 2024, click here.