Youth Engagement

Civic Participation
Children and Youth
Peace and Security

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UNDP Ukraine

Dialogues of Victory: Youth as agents of change in the sustainable recovery of Ukraine


The Problem
The ongoing war in Ukraine has had a profound impact on the lives of young people, with challenges in terms of income reduction, difficulties in finding employment, and deterioration of mental health. But despite the challenges of the ongoing war, many young people have played an active role in the emergency response. Results from a recent research on the war’s impact on youth in Ukraine show that the number of young people who have started to volunteer since the war have increased substantially: 30% of respondents stated they volunteered for the first time in 2022, compared with 6% in 2021. Similar results note that the sense of civic duty among young people is significantly higher than their actual engagement: 72% reported they were ready to contribute to the recovery process, while only 1% stated that they were already contributing. And while many young people have played an active role in emergency response and served as volunteers in their communities, there was no platform where youth could articulate their needs, challenges, and vision for the recovery of Ukraine. 

The Approach

Targeting youth aged 14-35 in Ukraine, UNDP launched in summer 2022 the project "Dialogues of Victory" in partnership with the NGO "Youth Platform", and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine. The project supported 30 one-day dialogues in 21 oblasts (out of 24), organized in partnerships with local youth councils, engaging more than 450 young women and men in discussions about recovery in their communities and the role that youth organizations can play. The dialogue process was replicated in summer 2023, with the view of now also connecting the project to recovery planning process and to strengthen the role of youth and youth councils in local decision making. 

Following the dialogues, meetings were set up between the youth councils and local authorities so the results of the dialogues could inform proposals for involving young people in decision making at the local level, as well as in local-level recovery. 

Following the dialogues, participants had the opportunity to apply for support for some small civic initiatives responding to the needs young people shared. In 2022 and 2023, UNDP has supported 20 follow-up initiatives, including: developing community profiles about the state of affairs in the field of youth policy and establishment of new youth councils; organization of a youth forum to exchange experiences; and organization of art events to acquaint young people with the work of Ukrainian artists and opportunities for youth development in the region.   

The Impact

  • When the dialogue process was initiated in 2022, it was among the first events organized for youth since the start of the invasion. The dialogue process has strengthened the capacities of 60 youth councils to effectively perform advisory functions to the local self-government.  

  • 602 young people have taken part in the dialogues, 79 of whom were internally displaced.  

  • 27 out of 30 youth councils organized meetings with local authorities, strengthening cooperation between the youth councils and local authorities. 

  • The relocated Mariupol Youth Council met with members of the Mariupol City Council to discuss topics such as restoring youth infrastructure and involving student government representatives in decision-making. 

  • The Voznesensk City Youth Council, Mykolayiv oblast, met with the Mayor to discuss how to increase the role of youth councils in the city’s decision-making processes and government structures. 

The Future
In the 2024 dialogue process, youth will specifically discuss the State Target Social Programme "Youth of Ukraine" 2026-2030 – the central document for youth policy in Ukraine, which is up for revision. By aligning the dialogue process with national policies, the program aims to enhance the impact of youth voices and initiatives in the ongoing recovery from the conflict. Additionally, a national forum for participating youth councils will be organised in 2024, fostering experience sharing and networking to establish a cohesive national platform for youth councils.