Skip to content

Youth Engagement by Embassies

Programme Management Tool

Please note: This is a test version. To comment or make suggestions please edit this document using track changes and send to and


In order to align to the strategic priority of working not only for but with and by youth, programmes and development engagements should, when appropriate and feasible, include support to youth participation and mobilization. This involves providing support to and opportunities for young people to be actively engaged; i.e. building their voice, providing them with leadership skills and enhancing their representation in governance structures.

The country context as well as the scope of the specific programme or development engagement determine to what degree an explicit youth focus is appropriate and feasible. The Youth Situational Analysis provides guidance to determine the relevance of applying a youth focus in a specific programme or development engagement.

Proposed actions
The following list of selected youth focused activities may serve as an inspiration on how to incorporate a youth focus either directly by an embassy or through an implementing NGO or private consultancy company.

• Conduct a youth review of youth related activities within the overall country portfolio. This will provide information on the scope of the embassy’s youth engagement, expected results and available resources and form the basis for a mainstreamed commitment to youth development.

• Establish a youth sounding board with a group of youth representatives with which the embassy can discuss and validate context and programme related youth issues. A Youth Sounding Board will help strengthen young people’s voice and perspective in relation to policy and programme, formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and it will provide a platform for direct and possibly continuous youth consultation. Selection of members for the Youth Sounding Board should carefully consider a diverse and relevant representation of youth.

• Include youth representatives in context analysis, reviews and evaluations. This will serve to maintain focus on the overall youth agenda, provide a critical “youth-lens” and youth input to the overall exercise, ensure that achievements are assessed from a youth perspective and finally contribute to building young people’s agency while also ensuring the validity of data collected.

• Work with young interns. Embassies could consider national and/or Danish interns, i.e. university students or recent graduates who can help promote a youth focus in development programs and ensure a young perspective and
– in case of the national interns – a local youth voice in relation to implementation and monitoring of programs.

• Engage with NGOs actively engaged with youth and youth-led organisations, YLO’s. The Danish NGO’s – and especially those holding a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Danida – provide an entry point to youth and YLO’s, not only in terms of outreach, but also in terms of access to youth related knowledge. The Embassy could tap into the knowledge and network of the NGO’s.

• Engage in youth-focussed policy dialogue2  with the aim of influencing change or enforcement of legislation, promotion of youth rights or changes of practices in terms of human resources and youth participation. This may involve international, national or local level dialogue partners, e.g. government institutions, line ministries, the national youth council, civil society platforms or organisations, local government institutions, private sector actors.

• Establish specific “youth windows” in (existing) funding mechanisms in order to ensure that youth, including youth organised in minor, less formalised youth organisations or social movements may access funding. For the funding mechanisms, youth involvement in selection processes can secure a young perspective and enhanced transparency.

• Promote networking and coalition-building among YLO’s and the wider development or academic world, including funding of selected key events – designed and organised for, with or by youth, as appropriate in the context. This activity can be incorporated in (existing) CSO support programmes.

• Convene linkages to INGO’s or NGO’s that are willing to act as brokers/mentors and “adopt” new and small YLO’s and help them build their professionalism in various areas including advocacy, management and fundraising. This activity can be incorporated into (existing) CSO support programmes.

Typology of youth organisations
A young persons’ legitimacy is reinforced when tapping into structures where youth are organised and hence represent a broader and consolidated voice of youth. Aiming to promote youth inclusion and participation, one must support and engage with youth’s own organisations.

Youth organisations are broadly defined as “those social organisations (associations, clubs or movements) that are set up to serve young people and where young people are in charge of the organisational structure and which are democratic, non-governmental and not for profit”.3 The specific characteristics of youth organisations will vary from country to country and are influenced by the social, political and economic context, as well as the ethnic composition and historical legacy of the country.

The most common types of youth organisations are listed below. A mapping of youth organisations undertaken as part of the Youth Situational Analysis may help identify the most relevant actors and potential partner organisations, as well as the impartiality and legitimacy in terms of a genuine constituency of these organisations.




Local Youth Groups


Often informal groups where the members are young people from the local area, brought together by a common social or economic interest.


Examples are expressive purposes (sport, hobby clubs); youth per se (youth groups, clubs); culture (music, theatre); helping (environmental, peace); deliberative (political party, citizen assemblies); and religious-ethnic organisations.4





Youth movements


Social movements are loosely organised groups with a common course and value based goals, often mobilised as a reaction against or in favour of something as a campaign. Social movements are often short-lived and may dissolve once the goal is reached or abandoned.


Examples of social movements are often found around issues related to human rights, women’s rights, LGBTI rights, environmental and land issues, students, consumers or other interest groups.





Youth Led Organisations (YLO)


Youth led organisations are controlled and led by young people, often on a volunteer basis. The YLOs normally have an age limit for membership, ensuring that they are truly representing young people.


Examples are student organisations, party political youth organisations, Red Cross Youth, issue based youth foundations etc. are youth organisations that are characterised with self-defined agenda, purpose and rules.



Youth Oriented Organisations and Youth Focused Networks and Coalitions


NGOs, networks and coalitions which operate with a particular focus on youth and youth related issues.


Examples are organisations working with SRHR, early marriage and pregnancy, school girls’ conditions etc. are among these organisations.



National Youth Councils


Most countries have a national youth council with the responsibility of enacting a National Youth Policy. In developing countries, these organisations sometimes have strong links to government and affiliation to the ruling party and may therefore not have support from the broader civil society.

Further reading

1 The World 2030, p.7.

2 Interviews with MFA staff in Copenhagen and at selected embassies in September October 2018 called attention to the fact that policy dialogue is less prominent that previously, due to the changes in the overall aid architecture. It is, however, considered a very important instrument in promoting youth policies and thereby in influencing the national, political context and enhancing an enabling environment for youth in terms of adherence to international conventions, national legislation and practice.

3 Study of the Social Value of Youth Organisations, European Youth Forum, 2016, 13 Appendix: Definition of a youth organization, p.64.

4 Ibid., p.8.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs


2 Asiatisk Plads

DK-1448 Copenhagen K


Tel. +45 33 92 00 00


In case of questions, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Global Youth Advisor, Thomas Rudebeck Eilertzen (