/ Inclusion

When people who are affected by a decision, are included in the decision-making process, feel that the decisions are fair and therefore easier to accept. Inclusion of target groups may vary, but traditional methods such as consultations and public meetings are widespread. However, inclusion may or may not be structured, meaning, through a specific organization or association and on a regular basis or needs-based basis. It means informing, consulting and if needed participation of the interest group(s).

The aim of inclusion is to increase the quality of decisions and social acceptance by increasing the participation of the non-profit, private and public sectors in the developmental and adoptional stages of a decision.

Public inclusion in decision-making must be open, transparent and flexible. Estonia has developed a good practice of inclusion, the aim of which is to harmonize the principles on which public sector and civic associations are based, including the public and interest groups in decision-making.

NB! Inclusion in decision-making creates the opportunity to get better result and to avoid mistakes!

The most common forms of inclusion are:

Informing is a one-sided relationship where local government informs young people about its activities and decisions without expecting feedback. At the same time, informing is a prerequisite for effective inclusion and informed participation.

Consultation is a two-way street where young people can voice their opinions and make propositions or suggestions about policies and proposed laws, but only to the extent that they are asked. Consultation is an effective way to identify a problem, assess the need for local government intervention, analyze impacts and then select the best course of action and the necessary tools for it. Consultation is often used at an early stage in the policy-making process, and different forms and tools of inclusion are used throughout the process.

Participation is expressed in a partnership between the municipality and young people. The local government retains the right to decide, but citizens and various groups in society can actively participate – initiate and shape the decisions to be made, evaluate different solutions, and so on. The inclusion of different members of society is important on many levels, from the identification of problems to the evaluation of existing legislation and policies. Good inclusion can only be talked about, if all three components are present. The draft legislation published on the website of the local government is not inclusion, but a precondition for inclusion, ie informing. Consultation and participation (eg through advisory commissions, seminars, forums, youth councils) will certainly be much more resource intensive, but will ensure real beneficial inclusion.


In Estonia, a good practice of inclusion was agreed on in 2005, representatives of ministries and civic associations participated in drafting the agreement. The practice is not a mandatory document, but a guide that can be used to ensure inclusion in a way that takes into account the needs and capabilities of different parties and mutually agreed principles.

The main forms that support information are:

  • Access to documents – sending documents by e-mail or post, adding them to websites, etc.;

  • Register of documents, directories, indexes of documents, for example on the Internet or on-site;

  • Cooperation with non-profit associations and representative organizations for the provision of information;

  • Possibility to give feedback on the Internet – forum, opportunity to comment on a topic, feedback form;

  • Official documents, drafts, reports, manuals;

  • Press releases, press conferences, interviews, speeches, presentations;

  • Direct mail materials, advertisements, newspapers;

  • Brochures, posters, leaflets and their distribution, etc.

The main possibilities for consultations are:

  • Opinion polling;

  • Questionnaires;

  • Written consultation;

  • Advisory boards;

  • Public hearings;

  • Focus groups;

  • Interviews;

  • Citizen “panels”;

  • Workshops, seminars, conferences, round tables;

  • Referendums.

Inclusion must always have a clear and unambiguous purpose, allowing the identification of the interest group(s) (eg all citizens, rural population, young people, entrepreneurs) and the choice of appropriate forms and means of including. However, setting a goal must not be too ambitious, so as no to raise unreasonable expectations and later disappointment. The purpose of the inclusion must be clearly stated.

For example, because of inclusion, do you want to:

  • Achieve a better understanding of the problem among the youth;

  • Get help and advice from young people to prepare a better decision;

  • Develop a better strategy for the use of resources;

  • Avoid problems at a later stage;

  • Achieve the acceptance of the law or decision by young people or society at large;

  • Confirm that the proposed propositions are moving in the right direction;

  • Lay the foundation for long-term communication with young people;

  • Receive a large amount of, but relatively superficial feedback;

  • Receive detailed, well-thought-out comments from experts;

  • Achieve wider acceptance of the final decisions;

  • Make a decision.

The main principles of inclusion are openness, clarity, transparency and flexibility – everyone who wishes should have the opportunity to have a say in society.

When including young people, it must also be done in an attractive form. For this purpose, you can use, for example, different simulations, watch a film on the relevant topic and organize a later discussion of the topic, etc. the main thing is that getting an opinion would be more playful and interesting for young people rather than sending a possible legislation to them and waiting for an opinion. A youth worker or a teacher who knows how to include young people in an age-appropriate way can definitely help here (you can also get inspiration from osale.enl.ee’s participation school simulation).

In addition to the general principles of inclusion, it is important to consider the following starting points for youth inclusion:

  • Young people must be included in all issues affecting young people’s lives;

  • Including of young people takes place primarily through youth participatory councils and representative organizations formed by young people themselves;

  • If there is no youth participatory council/board or youth representative organization in some field, other ways to include young people must be considered (for example, creating a youth participation board for a specific field);

  • When including young people, it must be based on the fact that the form of inclusion corresponds to the age of the young people that are being included and the opportunities to participate in the process of inclusion;

  • Young people must be given the opportunity to be included even if they have not been previously proposed to participate in the process, but young people have shown initiative.

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