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Finland

Engage Children, Youth, Elderly (FI0022)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Finland, Second Action Plan, 2015-17

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Education and Culture

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, other ministries, state agencies and municipalities, Child and youth organizations, Organization of aging people

Policy Areas

Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Finland End-of-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Issue to be addressed: Participation opportunities of children and the youth have been systematically enhanced in municipalities and in CSOs. The new Municipal Law requires all the municipalities to establish Youth Councils or equivalent groups as well as Councils on Disability. Older people's councils have been mandatory since 2013.At the moment approx. 80 % of municipalities have a Youth Councils or equivalent groups. Approximately 150 municipalities have Councils on Disability. Both of these councils will be mandatory from 1.6.2017. In state government and especially in law drafting the engagement of children and the youth has been less advanced. During the first Finnish Open Government Action Plan a workshop for young people was organized where the laws in preparation were discussed and information was gathered on how and in which matters young people should be engaged in the drafting process. Especially in the meetings and workshops with the civil society, together with the children and youth engagement the inclusion of the elderly has been highlighted. They are also a group often not included in the drafting processes. Different age groups should however not been considered as homogeneous groups based on just age. Specific attention needs to be paid to people with disabilities, or people lacking the often needed language skills or cultural knowledge. This applies also to children and young people.
Main Objective: Enhancing the engagement of children, youth and elderly people in the processes where the decisions are prepared and in co-design and co-production of services.
Milestones and Indicators: 1. In preparation of a new the Youth Act and the Child and Youth Policy Programme to be published in 2015, the engagement of children and the youth in the state government will be enhanced ( including law drafting). Digitalisation is utilized. 2. Advice to the staff of state government and the municipalities will be organized on how to engage different age groups. This will be done in co-operation with the CSOs. Indicator: Number of trainings organized and number of participants in these trainings. 3. Based on the Action plan of the upcoming new Government, main initiatives will be selected where different methods of engaging children, the youth and the elderly people are experimented. 4. A joint participation camp for the elderly, the youth and children is organized. Also civil servants from state government and municipalities will be present. 5. In co-operation with Youth network a study on engagement of children and the youth will be made.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Commitment 4. Engagement of Children, the Youth, and the Elderly

Commitment Text:

Status quo or problem or problem/issue to be addressed

Participation opportunities of children and the youth have been systematically enhanced in municipalities and in CSOs. The new Municipal Law requires all the

municipalities to establish Youth Councils or equivalent groups as well as Councils on Disability. Older people's councils have been mandatory since 2013.At the moment approx. 80 % of municipalities have a Youth Councils or equivalent groups. Approximately 150 municipalities have Councils on Disability. Both of these councils will be mandatory from 1.6.2017. In state government and especially in law drafting the engagement of children and the youth has been less advanced.

During the first Finnish Open Government Action Plan a workshop for young people was organized where the laws in preparation were discussed and information was gathered on how and in which matters young people should be engaged in the drafting process.

Especially in the meetings and workshops with the civil society, together with the children and youth engagement the inclusion of the elderly has been highlighted.

They are also a group often not included in the drafting processes.

Different age groups should however not been considered as homogeneous groups based on just age. Specific attention needs to be paid to people with disabilities, or people lacking the often-needed language skills or cultural knowledge. This applies also to children and young people.

Main Objective

Enhancing the engagement of children, youth and elderly people in the processes where the decisions are prepared and in co-design and co-production of services.

Milestones

1. In preparation of a new the Youth Act and the Child and Youth Policy

Programme to be published in 2015, the engagement of children and the youth in the state government will be enhanced (including law drafting). Digitalisation is utilized.

2. Advice to the staff of state government and the municipalities will be organized on how to engage different age groups. This will be done in co-operation with the CSOs. Indicator: Number of trainings organized and number of participants in these trainings.

3. Based on the Action plan of the upcoming new Government, main initiatives will be selected where different methods of engaging children, the youth and the elderly people are experimented.

4. A joint participation camp for the elderly, the youth and children is organized. Also civil servants from state government and municipalities will be present.

5. In co-operation with Youth network a study on engagement of children and the youth will be made.

Responsible institution: Ministry of Education and Culture

Supporting institution(s): Ministry of Social Affairs and Health; other ministries, state agencies, and municipalities; child and youth organizations; organizations for the elderly

Start date: 1.7.2015..............                                     End date: 30.6.2017

Context and Objectives

The main objective of the commitment is to improve state government engagement with children, youth, and elderly people, involving them in preparing decisions and co-designing services. A Ministry of Finance OGP-team member  Interview, September 2016.  explained that the commitment aims to balance representation of children, youth, and elderly people in policy decision making by introducing elements of direct democracy for specific age groups and citizens with low participation rates. At present, a municipal law requires all municipalities to establish youth councils or equivalent groups, as well as councils on disability. This commitment aims to bring such policymaking practice to the national level.

The commitment includes five milestone activities that focus on increasing elderly inclusion and laying the groundwork for passing a new Youth Act and Child and Youth Policy. Planned actions include training civil servants on engaging different age groups, experimenting with different engagement strategies, hosting a participation camp for youth and elderly groups, and conducting a study in partnership with the Advisory Council for Youth Affairs.

 
Completion

4.1. In June 2015, the Youth Advisory Board of Directors proposed a new Youth Act of 2016 to replace the existing one, with plans for it to enter into force in early 2017. The new Youth Act  Under the most recent Youth Act of 2006, the Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for updating the Child and Youth Policy (under Government Proposal to Law (HE111/2016 & Law 5§)) and is supported by the Youth Advisory Board of Directors. The Child and Youth Policy is then approved by the Finnish government every four years. (Ministry of Education and Culture, “Reform of the Youth Act,” 29 June 2016, http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/Nuoriso/vireilla_nuoriso/nuorisolaki/.) This policy sets objectives and guidelines for regional state administrative agencies and for youth policy programs in municipalities. Such programs include education, employment, health, active citizenship, social empowerment, housing, and entrepreneurship for all persons under age 29: http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/Nuoriso/nuorisopolitiikka/Kehittxmisohjelma_2012-2015/?lang=en.   aimed to overhaul the youth work system, and therefore required substantial coordination between ministries and agencies. However, at the midterm, passage of the new Youth Act remained delayed, subsequently postponing a regularly scheduled Child and Youth Policy update. The government decided in December 2015 to extend the existing Child and Youth Policy program until a new Youth Act is passed. 
 

According to a public official from the Ministry of Finance’s OGP team,  Interview, September 2016.  the government began preparatory work for the new Youth Act in April 2014. Children and youth were engaged online and offline in preparing the draft act.  Link to more information about the drafting process (in Finnish): http://www.minedu.fi/OPM/Nuoriso/vireilla_nuoriso/nuorisolaki/.  In addition, the minister in charge of preparing the Child and Youth Policy conducted a roundtable discussion with relevant CSOs in order to take advantage of online engagement methods. However, due to the previously mentioned delay in implementing the new Youth Act,  Link to the decision (in Finnish): http://valtioneuvosto.fi/paatokset/paatos?decisionId=0900908f8049c096.  this commitment is on track, but completion remains limited.

4.2. Civil servants and researchers have jointly created and published a number of short guidelines to aid in public consultation with different age groups.  Link to guideline documents (in Finnish): http://vm.fi/hallinnon-avoimuus/avoin-hallinto/avoimen-hallinnon-tietokortit.  The Ministry of Finance, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, the Children's Commissioner's Office, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Culture jointly organized a seminar on the rights of children on 16 November 2015. The event covered the rights of children, consultation practices, and child impact assessments.  Link to seminar program (in Finnish): http://vm.fi/hallinnon-avoimuus/avoin-hallinto/materiaaleja-ja-taustaa.  Speakers from the Ombudsman’s Office, the Ministry of Education, and child welfare organizations presented research and discussed practices for including children and youth in open government agendas.  Rights of the Child Seminar documents: http://vm.fi/hallinnon-avoimuus/avoin-hallinto/materiaaleja-ja-taustaa.

Example of findings presented: http://vm.fi/documents/10623/1194802/Iivonen+Lapsivaikutusten+arviointi+-+avoin+hallinto+16.11.15.pdf/d5c7e600-32d4-470e-aad0-a94327617ae5.  
 

4.3. According to the government self-assessment report, five different initiatives in the government’s action plan experiment with engagement methods. These include (1) a program to address child and family services, (2) digitization of public services, (3) the Municipality of the Future, (4) experimenting with a digital municipality, and (5) home care for older people.

Several engagement activities took place during the first year of implementation. Two events were held to engage elderly citizens in decision making:

  1. A “Days for Boards for the Elderly” event on 6 April 2016 organized by the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health  http://www.ym.fi/fi-FI/Asuminen/Ohjelmat_ja_strategiat/Ikaantyneiden_asumisen_kehittamisohjelma/Vanhusneuvostopaiva_642016(38537).  and
  2.  A workshop on digital services and digital participation in decision making for elderly people on 31 May 2016.  Program, slides, and minutes of discussions available at the open government website: http://vm.fi/hallinnon-avoimuus/avoin-hallinto/materiaaleja-ja-taustaa.  
     

A civil society representative from the Union for Senior Services (Valli ry)  Interview, 10 January 2016.  said that these events were well known and participatory in nature. Elderly councils partnered with the Ministry of Social and Health Affairs and the Ministry of Environment to organize the “Days for Boards for the Elderly” event. Participants discussed issues of living and home care. In total, 87 members of elderly councils from around Finland participated.  Finland Midterm Report Self-Assessment, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/country/finland/assessment.  

Members of elderly councils from local municipalities participated in an online brainstorming event to discuss digital services for the elderly. According to the government self-assessment report, 1,340 seniors participated in the online event, and the results led to the creation of the “Workshop on Participation in Decision Making” for elderly activists. The workshop was organized by three citizen organizations,  Valli (the Finnish Union for Senior Services), SOSTE (Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health), and ENTER ry (ICT association for seniors).  as well as civil servants, and 46 elderly participants attended.  Finland Midterm Report Self-Assessment, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/country/finland/assessment.  

During the implementation period, cities in Finland, including Pori, Kuopio, and Helsinki, engaged youth through the e-participation site Nuortenideat.fi and through school programs. The self-assessment report states that in October 2016 a youth forum was organized in partnership with the OECD’s Public Governance Ministry. Leading up to the forum, young people from different countries met with ministers and discussed the results of other national youth forums at the House of the Estates in Helsinki. The Open Government Project in Finland led the initiative to organize the youth forum and to discuss outcomes from international youth forums.

4.4. The government self-assessment states that potential partners for organizing a participation camp have been identified, though this information has not been made public.  According to the government, preparation for the camp will begin in the autumn of 2016.

4.5. In the self-assessment report, the government states that it conducted a joint study with the Advisory Council for Youth Affairs prior to the start of the commitment implementation period. The campaign to consult children and youth was called Mä oon asiantuntija! (I’m an expert!) and comprised online consultations and events in eight cities. This activity was included in the action plan because the government and CSOs working on youth issues were interested in using the results from the study to inform policy. The State Youth Council, a government-appointed group made up of civil servants and CSOs, wrote a three-page report  Report available at https://tietoanuorista.fi/en/nuora/advisory-council-for-youth-affairs/  about the outcomes of the consultation process.  https://tietoanuorista.fi/en/.  Based on its findings, the OGP team created consultation guidelines for engaging children and youth.  http://vm.fi/hallinnon-avoimuus/avoin-hallinto/avoimen-hallinnon-tietokortit.
  
Early results (if any)

This commitment is primarily focused on testing, studying, and developing practices for increasing engagement. Many of the activities are preparatory, and therefore their effect on opening government is minor, although studies and experimentation with different outreach methods could increase civic participation in the future.

Seven out of eight interviewed CSOs considered both this commitment’s theme and the activities important. The preparation of the Youth Act (milestone 4.1) received praise from both members of Parliament and other stakeholders. Furthermore, engaging children and youth in the preparation of a law that addresses them directly is an important step, even though the formulation of the milestone text does not specify how input will be included.

The government self-assessment report cites further activities conducted, in addition to those included in the commitment. For example, they organized the Youth Dialogue Event in October 2015,  Link to event: https://www.oecd.org/governance/ministerial/youth-dialogue.htm.  the Elderly Council Day in April 2014,  Link to event: http://www.ym.fi/fi-FI/Asuminen/Ohjelmat_ja_strategiat/Ikaantyneiden_asumisen_kehittamisohjelma/Vanhusneuvostopaiva_642016(38537).  and a consultation process on engagement and digital service development for the elderly, which included an extensive online consultation and a workshop.  Link to results of the process: http://vm.fi/documents/10623/1193298/Monessa+mukana+kaiken+ik%C3%A4isen%C3%A4+%E2%80%93+aivoriihen+I+tulosraportointi160512.pdf/dd67d662-1f9a-4400-a9fd-34eb12503a9b.

Next steps

The IRM researcher recommends that all the activities be implemented in the remaining commitment period as planned. The government could focus on incorporating the best practices learned from experimenting with various engagement methods (milestones 4.1 and 4.3). The government produced material from studying and seeking advice on engagement methods and strategies (milestone 4.2 and 4.5), and it should further apply findings in trainings (for example, as part of milestone 4.2) and other activities. Additionally, the government should provide participants in government-held events with clear information on how their input will be used to inform policy, and future action plans should indicate how citizens can participate in sharing their views, along with how those views will be used to inform government decision making.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 4. Engagement of Children, the Youth, and the Elderly

Commitment Text:

Participation opportunities of children and the youth have been systematically enhanced in municipalities and in CSOs. The new Municipal Law requires all the municipalities to establish Youth Councils or equivalent groups as well as Councils on Disability. Older people's councils have been mandatory since 2013. At the moment approx. 80 % of municipalities have a Youth Councils or equivalent groups. Approximately 150 municipalities have Councils on Disability. Both of these councils will be mandatory from 1.6.2017. In state government and especially in law drafting the engagement of children and the youth has been less advanced.

During the first Finnish Open Government Action Plan a workshop for young people was organized where the laws in preparation were discussed and information was gathered on how and in which matters young people should be engaged in the drafting process.

Especially in the meetings and workshops with the civil society, together with the children and youth engagement the inclusion of the elderly has been highlighted. They are also a group often not included in the drafting processes.

Different age groups should however not been considered as homogeneous groups based on just age. Specific attention needs to be paid to people with disabilities, or people lacking the often needed language skills or cultural knowledge. This applies also to children and young people.

Main objective

Enhancing the engagement of children, youth and elderly people in the processes where the decisions are prepared and in co-design and co-production of services.

Milestones

4.1. In preparation of a new the Youth Act and the Child and Youth Policy Programme to be published in 2015, the engagement of children and the youth in the state government will be enhanced (including law drafting). Digitalisation is utilized.

4.2. Advice to the staff of state government and the municipalities will be organized on how to engage different age groups. This will be done in co-operation with the CSOs. Indicator: Number of trainings organized and number of participants in these trainings.

4.3. Based on the Action plan of the upcoming new Government, main initiatives will be selected where different methods of engaging children, the youth and the elderly people are experimented.

4.4. A joint participation camp for the elderly, the youth and children is organized. Also civil servants from state government and municipalities will be present.

4.5. In co-operation with Youth network a study on engagement of children and the youth will be made.

Responsible Institution(s): Ministry of Education and Culture

Supporting Institution(s): Ministry of Social Affairs and Health; other ministries, state agencies, and municipalities; child and youth organizations; organizations for the elderly

Start Date: 1 July 2015 End Date: 30 June 2017

Commitment Aim:

The commitment aims to engage the elderly, children and the youth by involving them in government decision making and service design through participation events and online participation tools. It also aims to produce guidelines and an engagement study based on consultation with interest groups and experiment with different methods of engagement, as well as assist in the preparation of the new Youth Act. Another goal of the commitment is to establish the practice of engaging youth councils and councils on disability in policy making at a national level.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

At the midterm, a new Youth Act had been proposed in June 2015 by the Youth Advisory Board of Directors but passing of the act was delayed. The formulation of the Youth Act and the Child and Youth Policy Program was thus extended until the end of 2016. Additionally, short guidelines for public consultation with different age groups had been published at the midterm.[Note108: Open government information cards, http://vm.fi/hallinnon-avoimuus/avoin-hallinto/avoimen-hallinnon-tietokortit%5D

Methods of engaging children, youth and the elderly were trialed as part of five of the government’s main initiatives. Several participatory events were organized for the engagement of the elderly, and the youth was engaged using the e-participation portal Nuortenideat.fi. A youth forum was also organized jointly with OECD in October 2016.

Before the commitment implementation period, a joint study had reportedly been conducted by the government and the Advisory Council for Youth Affairs. The study was based on a consultation campaign for children and youth, and its results were reported and used by the government and CSOs to inform youth policy. Furthermore, the OGP team utilized this report for creating consultation guidelines for engaging children and youth. For more information, please see the midterm report.

End-of-term: Substantial

4.1. Engaging children and youth in the state government
Since the midterm, the new Youth Act came into effect on 1 January 2017.[Note109: “Uusi nuorisolaki voimaan: tervetuloa valtion nuorisoneuvosto.” State Youth Council, 3 January 2017,

https://tietoanuorista.fi/uusi-nuorisolaki-voimaan-tervetuloa-valtion-nuorisoneuvosto/ ] The National Youth Work and Policy Program (former LANUKE, now Valtakunnallinen nuorisotyön ja -politiikan ohjelma, VANUPO) was specified based on the new Youth Act after the end date of the commitment on 12 October 2017.[Note110: Valtakunnallinen nuorisotyön ja -politiikan ohjelma 2017–2019, http://minedu.fi/documents/1410845/4274093/VANUPO+FI+2017+final.pdf/92502e8e-0cd0-40f0-b097-5ef39e1d529f ] The focal points of the program consist of ensuring all children have the opportunity to have at least one hobby; strengthening youth employment skills and reduction of youth exclusion; increasing youth participation and influence; preventive action for youth mental health problems; and providing adequate information and support for youth in their aspirations to live independently.

According to a representative of the Ministry of Education and Culture, VANUPO was developed by consulting youth organizations, youth workers and young people in general. Consultation was arranged by conducting a survey, which received 107 responses (38 of which were given by young persons, and the rest by youth workers), as well as organizing a discussion event on 12 September 2016. Consultation opportunities for the program were advertised on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as on the radio station Radio Suomi.[Note111: Interview with Georg Henrik Wrede, Ministry of Education and Culture, 28 August 2017.]

4.2. Advice on engaging different age groups
In terms of trainings on engagement with different age groups, a representative of the Ministry of Education and Culture reported that several projects led by youth council unions and youth service organization Nuorten Keski-Suomi were funded to organize local trainings to civil servants.[Note112: Ibid.] Nuorten Keski-Suomi also reported that funding has been granted to five counties in the new Finnish regional government[Note113: Reform of regional government, http://alueuudistus.fi/en/reform-of-regional-administration ] to pilot projects for enhancing county-wide youth participation. Within these projects, county officials will work together with local youth to find suitable models for inclusion and participation.[Note114: “Viisi maakuntaa pilotoi nuorten äänen vahvistamista.” Nuorten Keski-Suomi, 29 June 2017,

http://www.nuortenkeskisuomi.fi/nuorten-aani-maakunnissa/viisi-maakuntaa-pilotoi-nuorten-aanen-vahvistamista-uudessa-maakuntahallinnossa/ ] Information cards on methods of engagement for children and youth are available online.[Note115: Avoimen hallinnon II. toimenpideohjelman tilannekatsaus 22.3.2017, http://vm.fi/documents/10623/1193298/Avoimen+hallinnon+2.+toimintaohjelman+tilannekatsaus+22.3.2017.pdf/fb3f63d5-5abc-459a-8c19-5054cd9090bd ] Experience cards on elderly participation events are also available, however, information cards on consultations with the elderly have not been published as planned.[Note116: Avoimen hallinnon tieto- ja kokemuskortit, http://vm.fi/hallinnon-avoimuus/avoin-hallinto/avoimen-hallinnon-tietokortit ]

4.3. Experimentation of engagement methods
After the midterm, engagement with different age groups was experimented with at several events. On 16 November 2015, the Ministry of Finance, together with the Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Mannerheim League for Children Welfare, and the Ministry of Education and Culture, organized an “Afternoon of Children’s Rights”. At the event, speakers of the aforementioned organizations elaborated on children’s rights as part of the Open Government initiative, consultation methods with children, and methods of evaluating effects on children in governmental and municipal decision making. According to the end-of-term self-assessment report, the event was a success and was thus repeated on 8 November 2016,[Note117: Information about the “Afternoon of Children’s Rights” in 2016 and 2015,

http://vm.fi/hallinnon-avoimuus/avoin-hallinto/materiaaleja-ja-taustaa ] and 14 November 2017.[Note118: Webcast of the “Afternoon of Children’s Rights” on 14 November 2017,

http://videonet.fi/web/vm/20171114/ ]

An “Elderly Council Day” was organized on 5 April 2017 jointly by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Finance. Presentations at the event touched on municipal activities, housing support and development of living environments for the elderly, as well as the role and tasks of elderly councils in these issues. In addition to representatives of the organizing ministries, presentations were held by representatives of Valli ry—The Finnish Union for Senior Services, the Age Institute, the Power of Old Age Network (Valtaa vanhuus), Aalto University, the Research Institute for Health Care Facilities (Sotera), and elderly council members.[Note119: Elderly Council Day, 5 April 2017,
http://www.ymparisto.fi/fi-FI/Asuminen/Ikaantyneiden_asuminen/Vanhusneuvostopaiva_542017(42339) ]

4.4. Participation camp
The participation camp for youth and the elderly was organized in Hollola on 27 April 2017 by the Ministry of Finance and independent think tank Demos Helsinki. Participants consisted of eight young persons, 15 elderly persons, and one public servant of the Hollola municipality. The aim of the camp was to pilot a method of inclusive participation and an administrative tool. The theme of the camp was “good and safe old age in the future.”[Note120: Nuorten ja ikäihmisten vaikuttamispäivä Hollola, 27.4.2017: Yhteenveto prosessista ja päivän tuloksista,

http://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/07/Nuorten-ja-ika%CC%88ihmisten-vaikuttamispa%CC%88iva%CC%88-Yhteenveto-prosessista-ja-pa%CC%88iva%CC%88n-tuloksista-15.6.2017-2.pdf ]

4.5. Engagement study
The milestone was complete at the midterm. For more information, please see the IRM progress report.

Did It Open Government?

Civic Participation: Marginal

Research shows that knowledge of government among Finnish youth is high, but interest in social affairs and political participation is low.[Note121: VANUPO draft, 29 May 2017, https://api.hankeikkuna.fi/asiakirjat/d98fdfdb-42e6-4e91-bc55-d92680d8bfdd/8a826ebc-cbdb-48b4-a38c-e13699165dcc/KIRJE_20170601121833.pdf ] Additionally, regular school surveys conducted in Finland by the National Institute for Health and Welfare’s show that 21 percent of eighth and ninth graders feel they cannot express their opinion in school (2015), and youth with disability experience less participation than others (2017).[Note122: “Lasten ja nuorten osallistumisen ja vaikuttamisen mahdollisuudet.” The National Institue of Health and Welfare, 21 December 2017, https://www.thl.fi/fi/web/lapset-nuoret-ja-perheet/johtamisen_tueksi/lasten_ja_nuorten_vaikuttamismahdollisuudet ] In the government administration, and specifically in legislative drafting, engagement of children, youth and elderly has also been limited.[Note123: Finland’s II. Open Government Action Plan (in Finnish), p. 14,

http://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/07/Avoimen-hallinnon-toinen-toimintasuunnitelma.pdf ] This commitment addresses the need for participation of different age groups in Finland by experimenting with engagement and consultation methods, and documenting best practices.

The overall impact of the fourth commitment on opening government was evaluated as limited by a representative of Allianssi due to its disconnected milestone experiments and lack of follow-up steps.[Note124: Interview with Eero Rämö, Allianssi, 4 September 2017.] However, it has been successful in spurring on some changes in government policy. The most important modification to the Youth Act states that government authorities (in addition to municipalities) are obliged to offer participation opportunities to young persons, and influence or otherwise consult in local, regional and national youth work and policy matters, as well as any matters concerning the youth directly.[Note125: Article 8 of the Youth Act (1285/2016),
http://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2016/20161285#Pidp450366240 ] However, a representative of the Ministry of Education and Culture was unsure of the specific and practical application of the legislation.[Note126: Interview with Georg Henrik Wrede, Ministry of Education and Culture, 28 August 2017.] According to a representative of the Ministry of Finance, defining the specific terms for all youth consultation in legislature is not advisable due to changing circumstances; the representative argued that such specifications could potentially be damaging to the aim of the initiative. This issue reportedly divided opinions during law drafting.[Note127: Interview with Johanna Nurmi, Ministry of Finance, 16 August 2017.] It seems clear that moving forward, follow-up discussions and planning on how to operationalize the law in practice will be necessary for ensuring legislative requirements to engage youth are acted upon.

Modeled after the EU Youth Strategy, the VANUPO program (previously LANUKE) supports transparency of political decision making as well as aiming to clarify government processes. VANUPO has been an ongoing initiative of the government since 2007, and—in light of the aforementioned secondary school survey results—is an important Decision-in-Principle in terms of bringing attention to youth participation and equal opportunities.[Note128: ”VANUPO tuli – oletko valmis?” State Youth Council, 16 October 2017,

https://tietoanuorista.fi/vanupo-tuli-oletko-valmis/ ] However, in its current form, VANUPO has been criticized by child and family associations for not including in the implementation of the program as a whole the consultation of children, child groups and experts by experience, in addition to representative participation.[Note129: Official statement by the Central Union for Child Welfare, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, Save the Children, and the Family Federation of Finland, https://www.lskl.fi/kannanotot-ja-lausunnot/5119/ ]

The Ministry of Education and Culture opened some new avenues for civic participation by soliciting public input when creating new guidelines on engaging children and youth. A representative of the Ministry considered the development of the guidelines a prime example of participation and engagement, but was unable to assess the level of use or uptake of the experience cards that were created based on the consultation.[Note130: Interview with Georg Henrik Wrede, Ministry of Education and Culture, 28 August 2017.] Going forward, the government could aim to ensure meaningful application of such guidelines within the public servant network.

The commitment’s experimentation with participation methods also brought about some marginal results in opening government. According to the Chairperson of Hollola’s Elderly and Disability Council, the participation camp was successful in encouraging youth and the elderly to participate and provide input at least on a local level,[Note131: Interview with Katriina Haapakangas, Chairperson of Hollola’s Elderly and Disability Council, 24 August 2017.] and the camp format was carried forward to the next action plan. Participants commended the camp for bringing together members of formal organizations, such as youth and elderly councils, and non-member citizens, as well as the opportunity to have direct dialogue with public servants. The organizers’ estimation was that the day was successful in exemplifying some ideas for new participation methods.[Note132: Nuorten ja ikäihmisten vaikuttamispäivä Hollola, 27.4.2017: Yhteenveto prosessista ja päivän tuloksista,

http://avoinhallinto.fi/assets/files/2017/07/Nuorten-ja-ika%CC%88ihmisten-vaikuttamispa%CC%88iva%CC%88-Yhteenveto-prosessista-ja-pa%CC%88iva%CC%88n-tuloksista-15.6.2017-2.pdf%5D

As the only commitment in the action plan that was not primarily concerned with improving internal government processes, the fourth commitment has overall made minor progress toward creating equal opportunities for vulnerable groups by testing out methods, documenting best practices and developing official strategies and legislation for engagement. These methods may positively affect civic participation in the future, though their current impact on opening government is difficult to measure.

Carried Forward?

The third action plan carries forward this commitment by aiming to strengthen government support of civic participation and engagement, especially for vulnerable groups. The support for different methods of participation, such as digital services and workshops, has been added as part of the action plan, though it lacks specificity in terms of clear milestones. In addition, three pilots were recycled from the second action plan to the third: the participation camp for youth and the elderly, the Open Government action plan for the municipality of Oulu and developing digital services for the elderly (led by Valli ry).[Note133: Launch event for Finland’s III. action plan, 24 August 2017,

http://avoinhallinto.fi/avoimen-hallinnon-iii-toimintaohjelman-kaynnistystilaisuuden-24-8-2017-esitykset/ ]

The IRM researcher recommends that the government continues informing policy through consultation and engagement of citizens, especially vulnerable groups, and introduces a system of implementation of best consultation practices.


Finland's Commitments

  1. Supporting everyone’s possibility to participate.

    FI0023, 2017, E-Government

  2. Clear government reforms and services

    FI0024, 2017, Fiscal Transparency

  3. Access to information on incorporated public services

    FI0025, 2017, Fiscal Transparency

  4. Access to information knowledge in the public administration

    FI0026, 2017, Capacity Building

  5. Publishing state procurement data to citizens

    FI0027, 2017, E-Government

  6. Regional Reform information

    FI0028, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport

  7. Training regional administration in open government principles

    FI0029, 2017, Capacity Building

  8. Clear administration

    FI0019, 2015, E-Government

  9. Government as an enabler

    FI0020, 2015, E-Government

  10. Open Procedures

    FI0021, 2015, E-Government

  11. Engage Children, Youth, Elderly

    FI0022, 2015, Public Participation

  12. Enhancing the openness of preparatory processes

    FI0001, 2013, E-Government

  13. Emphasizing dialogue skills in the job descriptions of civil servants

    FI0002, 2013, Capacity Building

  14. Strengthening proactive publishing and communication

    FI0003, 2013, Capacity Building

  15. Promoting participatory budgeting

    FI0004, 2013, Participation in Budget Processes

  16. Increasing openness and customer orientation in ICT and e-services development

    FI0005, 2013, E-Government

  17. Increasing the number of open and online meetings

    FI0006, 2013, E-Government

  18. Standard language titles and resumes will be drafted of the Government proposals.

    FI0007, 2013, Capacity Building

  19. Visualization of decisions

    FI0008, 2013, E-Government

  20. Training will be organised for civil servants in use of clear language and plain language in- cluding committing to use of terms already known.

    FI0009, 2013, Capacity Building

  21. The comprehensibility of the texts produced by public administration will be tested to- gether with citizens and service users.

    FI0010, 2013, Capacity Building

  22. Standardizing and clarifying the terms and concepts used in public administration and ser- vice production.

    FI0011, 2013, Capacity Building

  23. The comprehensibility of customer letters and decisions will be enhanced, especially when using standard texts.

    FI0012, 2013, Capacity Building

  24. Opening and publishing new data and changing existing open data into a machine- readable form.

    FI0013, 2013, Open Data

  25. Clear terms for use of for open data and knowledge

    FI0014, 2013, Open Data

  26. Strengthening skills needed to understand combining privacy and open data and strength- ening the citizen’s right to his/her own personal information “the right to be anonymous”

    FI0015, 2013, Capacity Building

  27. Tearing down barriers of action of the civil society

    FI0016, 2013, Capacity Building

  28. The proactive presence and accessibility of civil servants

    FI0017, 2013, Capacity Building

  29. Providing tools and training to organizations

    FI0018, 2013, Capacity Building