Diels, J. et al.Youth and consumption II: Participation formats for sustainable consumption

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Jana Diels, Marlene Münsch & Christian Thorun

Release date:
July 2022

German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), texts | 79/2022 

In recent years, young people have made it very clear that they recognize and use their scope for action to achieve sustainable development. In this context, youth participation has been recognized as a significant component for structural social upheavals and transformations. Against this socio-political background, the project "Participation formats for sustainable consumption" investigated the success factors of participation formats in the field of sustainable consumption. Based on a literature review, an influence model for successful youth participation was developed and validated by means of interviews with experts from science and participation practice. To identify success factors of youth participation, a qualitative survey was conducted with young people from 10 top-down and 10 bottom-up participation formats as well as initiators of these formats. These results were corroborated by a quantitative survey. The results show that the effectiveness and visibility of one's own involvement are the most important factors for successful youth participation. In addition, two definable target groups for youth participation emerged. The group of "youth cooperatives" strives to represent the voice of youth in an institutionalized way and to enter into exchange with politics. This group desires a certain degree of decision-making freedom, firm supportive human resources, and direct exchange with decision-makers. The group of "youth activists", on the other hand, is attracted by concrete actions with which they want to influence public opinion. This group wants a high degree of decision-making freedom to implement practical and creative actions. Finally, it became clear that young people experience considerable motivation through the dynamics of the group. Also, diversity within their own structures is clearly desired and should be further promoted in the future.

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