European Youth Capitals: Cities Of Youth And For Youth

Five cities have been shortlisted for the title of European Youth Capital 2020: Amiens (France), Chisinau (Moldova), Klaipeda (Lithuania), Timisoara (Romania), and Villach (Austria). But what would a win actually mean for the selected city and its young citizens? Let's find out.

Amiens, Chisinau, Klaipeda, Timisoara, or Villach. One of these cities will be the European Youth Capital in three years. The finalists were announced in late April, and they will now have two months to submit an extensive program of youth-related cultural, social, and political events and activities, and outline a partnership between the municipality and the city’s young people to create, plan, and run the European Youth Capital year.

The European Youth Capital title has been running since 2009, beginning with the City of Rotterdam. Under the slogan “Your World”, Rotterdam put a focus on participation, talent, connecting with youth, and delivering a positive message to young people.

Since then, cities across Europe such as Turin, Maribor, and Ganja (in Azerbaijan) have worked to boost youth participation – to hand over the reins to young people and empower them to shape their societies. In 2014, the capital was Thessaloniki. The second biggest city in Greece is famous for its youth community, and the city’s 2014 program was made up of a wide range of youth-related actions.

The title European Youth Capital is a youth-oriented project which positions a city as a pioneer of this exciting opportunity. The cities selected in the next few years will be working to create a standard of excellence that future European Youth Capitals will look to and learn from.

The title itself makes a statement to the world that the chosen municipality “is progressive in creating a unified body of citizens who are involved in bettering the world they live in, a connotation that lasts well beyond the given year”, as stated in the official web site presentation.

However, the most apparent advantage is that it provides a chance for a city to showcase its cultural and professional youth issues on a European scale. The city is spotlighted by a variety of media which inevitably creates an elevated civic profile as well as increasing the city’s visibility as a tourist destination.

As for the regional impact, it creates a forum for new and creative thinking in which projects and ideas can stimulate a stronger cultural life and encourage all the citizens of a municipality and its neighboring areas to be active within their society. Another example of potential benefits is that being selected as the European Youth Capital ensures that attempts to garner additional public funding and new financial donors is made significantly easier.

This year, the European Youth Capital is Varna, which has kicked off its chairmanship with a series of introductory events focused on its “Innowave” theme of social innovation.

Photos: Shutterstock / Collage: Martina Advaney

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