Thai-European Youth Forum on Urban Community Development

The EU funded project between the Goethe-Institut, the Thai Civic Education Foundation and the Child and Youth Media Foundation aimed to facilitate a youth-led approach in rethinking urban spaces in Thailand from 2021 to 2023 to create more inclusive cities, which allow for the participation of all community stakeholders in urban design and development.

With the ultimate aim of creating opportunities in Thailand to address the growing need for youth empowerment as full partners and drivers of change in urban development, the project strived to facilitate mechanisms to empower young people to participate in shaping urban planning, enable exchanges between youth organizations in Thailand and the EU and promote greater youth engagement in urban development policies among youth organizations and other civil society organizations in Thailand.
Through activities such as round-table policy discussions with youths and municipal stakeholders in five Thai cities (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Kanchanaburi and Hat Yai), capacity-building workshops and mentoring for youths with local and international experts, a study trip to four European countries to visit the European Youth Capitals of Thessaloniki, Cluj-Napoca and Klaipeda, youth festivals throughout Thailand and the EU-Thai Urban Youth Forum, the project has been able to accumulate a wealth of hands-on experience and field knowledge in the area of facilitating participatory approaches to youth engagement on urban development issues.

Rethinking urban spaces involves the process of reimagining and redesigning the physical, social, and economic aspects of cities. It is an invitation to explore ways to make cities more livable, sustainable, and resilient by creating more public spaces, promoting active transportation options, improving access to essential services, and fostering community engagement. This approach requires a shift in thinking from traditional models of urban development that prioritize cars, private property, and individualism to more inclusive, people-centered models that prioritize public good, social equity, and shared responsibility. Rethinking urban spaces can lead to better quality of life, improved health outcomes, and a stronger sense of community among city dwellers.

Youth participation on the other hand refers to the involvement of young people in decision-making processes that affect their lives, communities, and society at large. It involves engaging young people in various activities such as volunteering, activism, social and political movements, leadership roles, and civic engagement. Youth participation aims to empower young people, encourage their voices to be heard, and promote their active involvement in shaping the future of their communities and the world. It is seen as a crucial element in building an inclusive and democratic society.

Youth participation in rethinking urban spaces is essential because it brings fresh ideas and perspectives to the planning process. Urban spaces are often designed with the needs of adults in mind, while children and young people's needs are not always considered. By involving young people in the process, planners can create spaces that are more inclusive, safe, and enjoyable for all ages. Furthermore, youth participation ensures that future generations have a say in shaping their communities, which can lead to greater engagement and investment in those places. Young people who feel invested in their communities are more likely to volunteer, vote, and participate in local decision-making, creating a more vibrant and resilient city.

Overall, youth participation in rethinking urban spaces is crucial for creating more equitable, sustainable, and livable cities that meet the needs of all residents.