Young People's Inclusion in Public Policy-making in Portugal, the UK and Ireland

18 Oct 2022

Participatory governance or formalised types of participatory decision-making have become widespread in Europe, as governments seek to include citizens and members of the public in decision-making and policy-making in diverse areas of public policy. At the same time, the inclusion of children and young people in formal and informal decision-making processes has been widely emphasised due mainly to the influence of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Including children and young people in public decision-making and policy-making has several benefits but also a number of challenges and risks that need to be carefully considered. This seminar considered the experiences, challenges and outcomes of young people's inclusion in public decision-making and policy-making in Portugal, England and Ireland. 

The seminar was co-hosted by the ISS21  REACT and  Children and Young People research clusters, and chaired by Dr Margaret Scanlon (ISS21 Research Co-ordinator). The seminar was sponsored by the Irish Research Council's New Foundations programme. 


  Event Programme
10-10.10 Welcome and opening remarks (Dr Margaret Scanlon)

Speaker: Dr Catherine Forde

Context to children and young people’s inclusion in public policy-making


Speaker: Dr Roberto Falanga

Young People and Participatory Budgeting: A multi-scale perspective from Portugal

Abstract. Trends of young people's exclusion from decision-making are growing worldwide. European data show the decrease of active young people in the political sphere and the European Union recently acknowledged the need to push forward this debate by putting young people participation at the centre of policy action, as shown by the new Youth Strategy. In some member states, new initiatives have been undertaken to contrast little engagement of young people in standard democratic mechanisms. Since the early 2000s, participatory budgets have played a major role in innovating forms of citizen participation in Portugal. In the last two decades, the country has testified a significant growth of participatory budgets open to all citizens, increasingly coupled by young people participatory budgets implemented by local authorities. In addition, the central government set out three participatory budgets at the national level in 2017: one national participatory budget open to the population over 18 years old; one national participatory budget open to 14-30 years old people, and one participatory budget regulated through public primary and/or secondary schools in the country. In the same vein, the autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira kicked off participatory budgets at the regional level in 2018 and 2019, which included a dedicated share of the budget for young people. By acknowldgeing the volume of interest in participatory budgeting as a mechanism for young people participation, my talk will examine local, regional, and national practices in Portugal to cast light on emerging opportunities and challenges.


Questions and Discussion

11.25-12 Tea/coffee break

Speaker: Dr Dayo Eseonu

Designs for Racial Equality: Articulating and acknowledging the “voice-of-colour” in policymaking

Abstract. Drawing on her academic, community and policy research experience, Dayo will reflect on some of the projects she has worked on both with young people. In particular, she will speak to the potentials and challenges for involving racially minoritised young people in policymaking. She will also share a research which includes guiding principles she has developed to ensure that racially minoritised young people’s voices are articulated, amplified and acknowledged in policymaking processes.


Speakers: Dr Deirdre Horgan and Dr Shirley Martin

IMMERSE: Migrant children shaping European policy on socio-educational integration

Abstract. This presentation will focus on IMMERSE, a Horizon 2020 funded project which examines the socio-educational integration of migrant children. It begins with an overview of children’s input into policymaking in the Irish context. It then details the gathering of migrant children’s views across six European countries as an evidence base in the development of EU policy on their socio-educational integration. The paper will specifically address the role of a children and young people’s advisory group in this process of shaping the research and informing policy priorities.


Questions, discussion and close

Presenter Bios

DR CATHERINE FORDE lectures in participatory governance, children and young people’s rights and participation and community development on undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in the School of Applied Social Studies, UCC. Her main research and publication interests are community development; state-civil society relations; environmental education; and children and young people's participation. Catherine is the leader of the Research for Civil Society, Environment and Social Action (REACT) Cluster of ISS21 at UCC.

DR ROBERTO FALANGA holds a PhD in Sociology and is currently Assistant Research Professor at the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon. His main field of research is citizen participation in policymaking. He has published in international journals on participatory budgeting, community engagement through area-based initiatives of urban regeneration, and policy evaluation of participatory processes. He is member of several international research projects and he has collaboratesd with international public agencies, such as the European Union and the Council of Europe, on these topics.

DR TEMIDAYO ESEONU is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester where she also recently completed her PhD in Politics. Her research interests are in racial equity and justice using methods which centre the experiential knowledge of racially minoritised communities. Her doctoral research involved co-produced research with racially minoritised young people on how a local council’s employment support services can be improved. In the last year, she has worked with Black children and young people piloting Afrofuturism as a research method for equity-centred service design.

DR DEIRDRE HORGAN is a senior lecturer in Social Policy and Vice-Head of the School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork. Her research interests include child well-being, children’s rights and participation, children’s research methods, and child migration. She has published widely in these areas as well as reporting on Irish government consultations with children to inform a range of policy issues and her research work has informed the National Strategy for Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision making 2015-2020. She is currently co-Investigator for the EC Horizon 2020 Project IMMERSE (2018-2023).

DR SHIRLEY MARTIN is a Social Policy lecturer at the School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, Ireland. She has conducted several research projects on child and youth participation. This research contributed to the body of work informing the National Strategy for Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision making 2015-2020 and she has worked closely with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on a range of projects including national consultations with children and young people to inform specific government policies. She is the Irish Primary Investigator for the EC Horizon 2020 Project IMMERSE (2018-2023).


For more on this story contact:

Dr Margaret Scanlon, ISS21 Research Coordinator (

Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

Top Floor, Carrigbawn/Safari Building, Donovan Road, Cork, T12 YE30