How Young People can Shape Environmental Policy in Urban Spaces

James Sloam, Matt Henn

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Abstract

Younger generations have become increasingly disillusioned with mainstream
democratic politics in established democracies. Although young people are interested
in politics and engaged in many issue-based forms of participation, it is hard for them
to realise the fruits of their labour at the national level. Local democracy may provide a
better opportunity for engaging effectively in the issues that affect young people’s
everyday lives. This article examines how Public Value approaches work in practice for
young people whose voices are usually excluded from the policy-making process. The
research adopted a complex large-scale multi-stage qualitative design, that involved
focus groups and interviews with young people and local civic leaders from across
London. It used participatory research with young Londoners from traditionally
marginalised groups. The research revealed that, although policy-makers face
important structural challenges, such as the concentration of power and resources in
Westminster, they have the potential to move beyond tokenistic engagement with
young people. In particular, the results showed how civic and local authorities can build
efficacy and trust through initiatives that provide opportunities for deliberation and the
co-creation of public policy. In this way, the article makes a clear contribution to our
understanding of the role of young people in environmentalism and their democratic
value.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPOLICY AND POLITICS
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 May 2024

Keywords

  • Young People; Participatory Governance; Public Value; London; Environmental Policy; Environmentalism; Exclusion; policy-making

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