Youth voice for sustainable democracy

From Open Government Pioneer Project

Welcome to this planning page - get involved!

This is an open planning page to make democracy work for us. Don't dismiss us just because we are young. It's our future!

We should build on open government, sustainable development goals and young people. See the EventsBrief for our summer 2017 events.

Please edit this page with your ambitions and ideas.

Erasmus plus applications - to British Council

We are currently exploring how we might build on the work of the Open Government Pioneers Project over the coming year through Erasmus. This is the open planning page for engagement activity to support people who might face barriers as young people getting involved in using open government approaches to influence the decisions that affect them. Please edit this page with your ambitions and ideas.

STATUS: We have submitted Youth Voice in Open Democracy and are on hold for funding on this one. We are now planning Youth Voice for Sustainable Democracy with you.

Project Title Youth Voice in Open Democracy Youth Voice for Sustainable Democracy
Project Acronym YVOD YVSD
Project Start date 1st October 2017 1st February 2018
Project Total Duration The project will last for 15 months. Oct 2017 to Dec 2018 This project will last for 17 months. Feb 2018 to July 2019.
Project End date 1st January 2018 1st July 2019
Applicant Organisations Full Legal Name Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

Participating Organisations

Organisation Contribution
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations Applicant organisation

Helping to secure funding Making connections with open government and global goals agendas

Project Scotland Helping to secure partners

Delivery support

IDEAS (International Development Education Association Scotland) Help secure partners

Experience of raising SDG awareness in both formal academic and community sectors through

Teacher CPD and events/workshops for young people

Delivery support

Young Scot Involved in all key milestones

Supporting the facilitation and engagement with young people, using a co-design approach across all stages of the initiative.

Project Description

From low wages and a lack of housing to food insecurity and poor health, we are a long way from being the society we would like to be. But we should live in a place where people can satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a good quality of life without compromising future generations to come.

Open Government - a mechanism for change

Governments alone cannot solve the problems of today, yet conventional approaches to decision making and policy design means that much of the power still sits in government. This imbalance between elected politicians and technocrats and the people they serve limits our abilities to find the right solutions to ensure people’s needs are identified and met.

More transparent, accountable and participative government is key to reinvigorating democracy in Scotland. By acting openly, with integrity and with the people, governments can play their part in the much needed shift towards co-produced policy design where real transformational change is most likely to occur.

Our ambition is to secure youth voice in a sustainable and open democracy. We don't want youth to be a barrier, we want young people to be taken seriously in discussions about decisions that affect people. We want to ensure a frank and honest sharing of perspectives on how young people can get a greater voice in their democracy within the enabling framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. We also want to ensure these ideas are shared and discussed between young people in Scotland and other countries.

Sustainable Development Goals - a framework for change

In 2015, Scotland became one of the first countries to sign up to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals are as close as the world has come to agreeing a strategy to achieve prosperity and equality on a planet that works for all.

Scotland is required to demonstrate its work to achieve the goals. Civil society and citizens across Scotland can use the SDGs and the political commitment from the Scottish Government as leverage to achieve real change at a national and local level.

The goals also provide a framework to begin community focused conversations about what matters to people, including young people. They can help us engage in constructive conversations about the local relevance of the 17 goals, better understanding what is particularly important across different communities and what the priorities of government should be.

Fitting the two together

Through using the SDGs as the framework to engage community stakeholders and residents to understand the issues that people care about most, we can begin to collaboratively problem solve how government must work to bring about change.

Not only will this approach help us to understand what Scotland’s priorities should be in order to progress towards the goals, it gives citizens the space to understand the barriers in their way, from disempowerment or a lack of communication, to rigid structures and diminished resources. It also gives people a voice over how government and public services should work.

Scotland's place in all this

Significantly, both the Open Government and SDG agendas have political buy-in by Scottish politicians of all the major parties. This presents a unique opportunity to further legitimise the presence of young people and their communities in decision making and policy design.

In May 2016 Scotland was announced as one of 15 ‘sub-national’ governments and civil society partnerships worldwide to be part of a pioneer programme to take the principles of open government to levels of governance closer to citizens’ everyday interests.

In 2015, the First Minister pledged that Scotland would lead the way to deliver a more equal, more just world. In signing Scotland up to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Scottish Government made a bold statement of intent not just to the people of Scotland but to the world. The goals have since become a key element of the Global Citizenship strand of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.

Scotland'a ambitions are currently being captured and developed at


We have developed a loose structure for the project, but Open Government is not about telling people what to think and do, it’s about asking the right questions to ensure real progress can be made. If successful, we will use a co-design approach throughout the whole project including developing appropriate objectives. At this point, our objectives are:

Desired Objectives
1)     To raise awareness of what open government means to young people, and how it can help to tackle complex problems
2)     To develop the capacity of young people to influence reforms in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals
3)     To localise the sustainable development goals and make these relevant to young people
4)     To capture the ideas of young people to ensure the presence of youth voice and communities in policy making

Participants Profile

Audience Number to engage Activities Notes
Youth pioneers 30 (selected by Project Scotland applicants) In-depth engagement over course of project Based on tested methodology used by partner organisations to recruit young people as a cohort of youth pioneers for the in-depth engagement activities.
Young people 100 (YoungScot and Project Scotland beneficiaries) Gathering voluntary sector conference We also envisage that an additional 70 young people will join us for the second day of the Gathering in order for our selected 30 participants to link up to other young people taking part in similar discussions across Scotland. This is to ensure that a conversation exists across all of our outreach to develop a fuller picture, and that different groups are not kept in boxes.
Partners 230 members of Open Government Network

50 members of Sustainable Development Goals Network

Advisory input, support and buy-in, publicity
General public 3000 Social media, Mainstream media, TV, website - case study and discussions

Learning Outcomes

We will be using the Participative Democracy Certificate, an award that recognises young people's involvement in decision making processes. This constitutes 20 hours and is worth 2 credits at SCQF level 5. It is £12 plus vat for each young person which helps with sustainability and growth of the awards.

Programme Requirements:

The programme of activity should contain the following components

  • 4 hours of research undertaken independently by each young person (this could be speaking to other young people in the area about needs, community profiling etc. They would then do a presentation on findings but it could be delivered to the rest of the group)
  • 6 hours of training on specific skills such as communication, setting ground rules, decision making, working in groups,
  • 8 hours of recorded decision making meetings
  • 2 hours of reflection by young people

Portfolio of Evidence:

Each of the 30 youth pioneers will develop a portfolio which should include 6 key sources of evidence

The young person's presentation on research findings

  1. The Individual Observation Report for Task 1
  2. The Individual Observation Report for Task 2
  3. A record or minutes of meetings demonstrating their engagement in decision making processes
  4. A Support Worker’s Observation Report validating the Participants  involvement in the decision making meetings and reflecting on their development
  5. The participant’s reflective journal/diary

Wider impact

Key to this programme is securing wider impact from the learning experiences of the 30 core youth pioneers.

Therefore, the portfolio of evidence will be made available to other young people, subject to the young person's consent, and a sensitivity check of the content, and we will seek their feedback and reflections.


The project team will self-evaluate the success of the project every six months, and produce an interim self-evaluation report at the mid-point in December 2018.

The project team will commission an independent evaluation of the project with access to the project participants; youth pioneers (30), young people (100), project partners, wider open government and sustainable development goals networks.

The reports from these activities will be publicly shared to encourage learning and discussion and presented in an accessible and engaging format.


Current activities

SCVO currently host the Open Government Pioneers Project, set up to build the capacity of citizens and civil society across the United Kingdom to contribute and input to policy-making and service delivery in progressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), in partnership with the Wales Council for Voluntary Organisations (WCVA), Involve, and Northern Ireland Environment Link, has been awarded a £500k Big Lottery Fund grant to work together over two years to support people to engage and challenge their governments to serve them better. There will be a particular focus in supporting people who are not normally heard in the decisions that affect them, and the connection between citizens and devolved governments of the UK home nations. The project is formally linked to the international Open Government Partnership, where governments and civil society have been given an equal say in the commitments made by 70 countries to be more open. It will use open government commitments to help people secure progress towards the SDGs to eradicate poverty, tackle inequality and sustain natural resources at home and abroad.

At the heart of the Open Government Pioneers initiative is growing the movement of people and organisations that want to actively participate in their governments at Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland levels. The focus for the project is securing government actions and commitments at the devolved UK nation level, using the Sustainable Development Goals as a shared framework for progress and strengthening the role of civil society as a key stakeholder, and conduit for citizens, in open governance reform and sustainable development

We are using a mix of seminars, webinars, meetups, online digital platforms and crowdsourcing policy analysis to achieve these aims. It is a new and innovative approach which will encourage and support new digital ways for people to come together openly in order to secure change from their governments.

There is a strong international dimension to this project, as the project aims to build on the global Pioneer status that Scotland has been given as part of the international Open Government Partnership. The project looks to make the most of the opportunity that an Open Government agenda provides to secure progress within the UK home nations towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. On a practical level, the project will build bring together and skill up people who want to participate more directly in their government in the UK home nations. It will support the sharing of learning and practical ways of using open government approaches with people from other countries. And it will ensure that participation by citizens has a real influence on government policy at the UK devolved nation level.

As part of our outreach, we are holding a number of engagement events in Scotland, approximately 9 in total. We are first focusing our attention on equalities events, which will be facilitated by our equalities partners and take place in May-September 2017. In the first instance, our partners include Young Scot, Inclusion Scotland and CEMVO. Our partners will be supporting the facilitation and engagement with attendees at each event. Our work with Young Scot provides the starting point of securing youth voice in open democracy.

As part of the project, SCVO has also picked up a facilitator role of a group of stakeholders currently working around the SDGs established to with three broad aims:

  • Coordination: Space to share who's doing what and link folk together
  • Outreach: Work together to increase public awareness and engagement
  • Delivery and Scrutiny: Supporting the implementation in Scotland

Through these connections, we will be drawing on the work of others in these area to ensure that our work links up to what is happening across Scotland with young people and the SDGs. Our partners in the bid, IDEAS, are one of these connections and are working with organisations across Scotland to hold a series of youth events with schools as part of its Young Citizen Advocates initiative in the run-up to 2018's Year of Young People. These events will have a clear focus on young people having greater influence over political decisions that affect their lives, and findings will contribute to the wider evidence bank that is available to support our future youth events.

Engagement approach

Partners Young Scot will be involved in all key milestones of the project, and their contribution would be to support the facilitation and engagement with young people, using a co-design approach across all stages of the initiative. The co-design approach can have a significantly positive impact on decision-making and policy-making, but young people will need to be involved as full collaborators and partners in the process, right through to implementation of solutions.

The Young Scot Co-design process enables young people and organisations to explore insights and experiences and develop ideas together:

1. Explore: Uncover issues through gathering insights and genuine experiences from young people.

2. Create: Generate ideas and co-create solutions with/by young people.

3. Reflect: Consider the future impact and sustainability of the ideas produced.

4. Recommend: Produce influential ideas/solutions with young people.

As an organisation, Young Scot are moving beyond traditional consultation methods, and will support the project to deliver outcomes, which are driven by co-design and co-production processes. Young Scot have developed an iterative menu of different methods which are holistic, flexible and accessible to suit a variety of strategic impacts and objectives. From idea jams, Youth Investigation Teams, experience mapping to conversation days and focus groups.

Working with partners

In terms of governance, we will have:

·        A project board to oversee the overall project development and management

·        A delivery group to manage the programme day to day and month to month

Project Board

Made up of one representative from each partner organisation (SCVO, Project Scotland, Young Scot, IDEAS) and a representative from British Council.

The Board will be chaired by SCVO's Deputy Chief Executive, and it will meet once a quarter via videoconference.

Secretariat functions, hosting Board meetings, will all be covered by SCVO's overall programme management.

The Board will be asked to consider and approve governing precepts, such as dispute resolution, and regularly review the development and issues arising from the risk register.

The Board will also have some Significant Others. The Significant Others will be involved consistently on the Board for the duration of the project, not in an ad hoc way. We want them to know the programme, for them to be thoughtful about it, for them to feel they have a vested interest in its evolution and success.

Delivery group

The Delivery Group will be led by an overall Project Director, hosted by SCVO, who will report directly to the Chair of the Project Board. The DG is made up of all the partner Project Managers, and SCVO's Project Director will lead on ‘chairing’ that Group, but, we might also rotate the Chair too by agreement. Programme Management Meetings will be scheduled twice monthly, and will take place digitally (Skype) and in person.

The Chair of the Project Board, will then be briefed on the outcome of these meetings by the Project Director. A scheme of delegation will be agreed with the Board, to guide where the Chair can resolve issues and opportunities brought by the Delivery Group or where it is necessary to escalate it to a decision by the full board. Actions can be taken accordingly in a timely fashion.

Practical Arrangements TBC

  • Travel and accommodation
  • Insurance
  • Protection of participants
  • Preparatory meetings with partners
  • Risks
  • Safeguarding minors


Partners in the project, Young Scot, will play a key role in supporting the facilitation and engagement with young people, using a co-design approach across all stages of the initiative. As an organisation, Young Scot have developed an iterative menu of different methods which are holistic, flexible and accessible to suit a variety of strategic impacts and objectives. From idea jams, Youth Investigation Teams, experience mapping to conversation days and focus groups.


Phase One: Set-up (October 2017 - January 2018)

  • Establishing governance
  • Working with Partners to develop co-design approach
  • Development of personal development approach for participants
  • Selection of participants and introductory work

Phase Two: Induction (January - February 2018) - Learning Outcomes TRAINING

  • Participants will attend an induction/welcome event and the full two days of the Gathering 2018 Third Sector Conference
  • The Gathering will form part of the participants' induction and will include as series of training sessions on specific skills such as communication, setting ground rules, decision making, working in groups etc. to ensure participants are well positioned to participate in the programme.
  • Participants will each receive a personal development plan to monitor progress throughout the series
  • There will also be an opportunity for participants to engage with over 100 exhibitors, and a packed programme featuring more than 60 workshops, seminars and training sessions. Participants will be supported to meet with organisations and attend sessions relevant to the project.
  • We also envisage that an additional 70 young people will join us for the second day of the gathering in order for our selected 30 participants to link up to other young people taking part in similar discussions. This is to ensure that a conversation exists across all of our outreach to develop a fuller picture, and that different groups are not kept in boxes.
Activity 1
Name of event Induction event
Date of event January 2018
Time of event TBC
Duration of event 1 Day
Number of participants 30
Travel Days TBC
Location of event TBC
Objectives From this event, we hope to:
  • Induct all participants to the project and concepts
  • Provide a welcoming an informal environment for participants to engage with one another and team.
  • Outline next steps in relation to training and overall project.
Activity 2
Name of event Residential - Personal Development (The Gathering 2018)
Date of event February 2018
Time of event TBC
Duration of event 2 Days
Number of participants 30 (+70 additional young people for day 2 of the Gathering)
Travel Days TBC
Location of event SEC, Glasgow
Objectives From this event, we hope to:
  • Develop a personal development plan and record for each participant to monitor and log progress
  • Deliver training sessions on specific skills required to participate in the project
  • Provide space for participants to engage with relevant exhibitors, workshops and seminars.
  • Begin initial discussions about the priorities of young people in society today
  • Provide an opportunity to engage with other young people participating in similar schemes and elected officials of all levels (day 2)

Phase Three: Exploration (March - April 2018) - Learning Outcomes RESEARCH

  • Using the expertise of our partners, this phase will uncover the issues through gathering insights and genuine experiences from young people
  • Independent research will then be conducted by the participants
  • Participants will deliver their findings to peers and explore these
Activity 3
Name of event Exploring what matters - Open Space Conference
Date of event April 2018
Time of event TBC
Duration of event 1 Day
Number of participants 30
Travel Days TBC
Location of event TBC
Objectives From this event, we hope to:
  • Build on preparation/research from participants
  • Provide an open space for participants to share their findings of the research they conducted
  • Encourage debate and dialogue amongst participants to discuss their research
  • Give participants the confidence to suggest and lead discussion topics based on their research
  • Provide a framework where participants can shape topics for discussion in an interactive format.

Phase Three: Co-creation (May - July 2018) - Learning Outcomes DECISION MAKING

Participants will have selected one of three areas to discuss further with experts who will co-create solutions with participants. The topics of these sessions will be decided during phase three.

Activity 4
Name of event Idea Jam A (Topic TBC) Idea Jam B (Topic TBC) Idea Jam C (Topic TBC)
Date of event June 2018
Time of event TBC
Duration of event 1 Day
Number of participants 30
Travel Days TBC
Location of event TBC
Objectives From this event, we hope to:
  • Develop ideas and concepts to complex problems that matter to young people under the SDG framework
  • Discuss concepts/ideas further with experts who will co-create solutions with participants
  • Provide a creative and adaptable space based on the needs of participants

Phase Four: Reflection and recommending (September - November 2018) - Learning Outcomes DECISION MAKING

Participants will regroup post-summer holidays to reflect on the process so far and contribute their thoughts on the outputs from the Idea Jams. This will complement a small amount of preparatory work that will need to be undertaken by participants over the summer months.

Activity 5
Name of event Forward thinking
Date of event September 2018
Time of event TBC
Duration of event 1 Day
Number of participants 30
Travel Days TBC
Location of event TBC
Objectives From this event, we hope to:
  • Consider the future impact and sustainability of the ideas produced
  • Stress test ideas to improve
  • Bring participants together from each Ideas Jam to reflect on each others' proposals and assess these with expert support
  • Evaluate the process and present findings on approach

Phase Five: Showcasing (November - December 2018) - Learning Outcomes REFLECTION

Activity 6
Name of event Showcase and reflection at Parliament
Date of event November 2018
Time of event 18:00 - 20:30
Duration of event 2.3 hrs
Number of participants 30
Travel Days TBC
Location of event Edinburgh, Parliament
Objectives From this event, we hope to:
  • Discuss how Scotland can meet the challenge of including the voices of young people in progressing towards the SDGs.
  • Discuss the obstacles and current situation young people experience in seeking to get involved.
  • Champion the rights of young people to have a voice in Scotland
  • Share the process that participants have undertaken to develop solutions to complex problems
  • Discuss the challenges and strengths of this approach, and experiences that others can learn from

Discussion framework

This framework recognises the difficulties of engaging people around such terms as open government and sustainable development. Rather than beginning conversations with what we want, it seeks to start with the issues that matter most to people before introducing why these concepts later on.

Discussions of this nature will not only help to support participants to develop new ideas and solutions to complex problems, it will allow us to collect powerful stories that can be used to help others come to their own conclusions and form their own opinions over the way forward. Research shows that real stories matter, and the conversations that take place here will form key persuasive evidence to shape future policy responses and next steps around Open Government and the SDGs.

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Developing a conversation around what matters to people in their community.

Issues The issue What are the issues that matter most to you?
The impact What is the impact of this issue on you?
The situation What do you feel you can currently do?
Solutions The obstacles What is causing this, or stopping you from getting involved?
The solutions What changes do you think could be made to reduce the issue or impact?
Actions The actions How can you act to influence change?


TBC - Expected outcomes for participants from their planned learning and involvement in project (see personal development plan)

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