Civic monitoring in practice: how youth get involved in improving public policies in Bucharest

Young people across Romania, Italy, Slovenia, Greece, and Latvia show below-average engagement in civic life and lack trust in local and national administrations. Marginalized groups like those with disabilities or Roma are often left out. This disengagement leaves many young individuals feeling voiceless in decisions affecting them, potentially fueling scepticism toward European institutions and paving the way for extremist politics.

To counter this, civic monitoring emerges as a solution. It bridges engagement gaps, sparks interest in volunteering, and empowers youth to address community issues. By involving young monitors in the #CivicEU project, we aim to create a more informed and active citizenry, laying the groundwork for positive social change.

Selecting the civic monitors 

In July 2023 we chose our five young monitors from the ages of 20 to 23 to embark on this journey of monitoring policies. The youngsters took it upon themselves to monitor several key policy areas for the city: waste management, building zone codes, and green areas.

With the support of the “Politică la Minut” team, we organised a training session for them in which we discussed the various methods they can use for monitoring and the next challenges they might face. They learned about the tools of civic participation and how they can contribute with actions to the local administrations’ policies. In October 2023, we met up with the teams from the partnering countries, analysed youth projects and goals, and thought about our agenda and the future steps we need to take after finishing our report. 

The culmination: our monitoring reports

The youngsters took it upon themselves to monitor several key policy areas for the city: waste management, building zone codes, and green areas. They either focused on specific sectors of Bucharest (Sectors 2, and 3), which function relatively independently like smaller cities, or looked at city-wide policies and legislation, as was done in the case of building codes.

What followed was that they monitored the chosen local policy in several stages. They started from the resources and data available online, and they continued by formulating a monitoring methodology to see the extent to which the local public authority is working on managing the local situation. For that, they carried out a series of data requests, conducted interviews, consulted local strategies, made field visits, etc. Finally, the civic monitors developed recommendations for local authorities and outlined specific steps for these recommendations to be fulfilled, which they included in their report.

Next steps

With our public policy report completed, we’re gearing up to share our findings with the public. These recommendations stem from an analysis of current city strategies, aligning with the aspirations of citizens. Furthermore, our young monitors will present these proposals to local administrations, fostering a crucial collaboration between youth and administration—central to our project’s objectives. We aspire that this report will contribute to enhancing this partnership.

The project is implemented with co-financing from the European Union. The content of the project activities is the responsibility of the Romanian Center for European Policies (CRPE) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union or the Education and Culture Executive Agency of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.