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Panel 68. Children and Youth Right to the City and Participation in Urban Planning and Urban Design.  


  • Rosario Palacios, Investigadora Asociada, Estudios Aplicados Antropología UC, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Macul, Santiago, Chile,,
  • Gabriela Piña, Doctora en Antropología Social de London School of Economics and Political Sciences, Académica colaboradora, Correo:, Teléfono: +562 2354 7200


Children and youth participation is one of the pillars of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). The right for children and youth to participate in the decision-making process related to issues that affect them includes territorial and urban issues. Children and youth are part of the city where they live and have the right to public spaces, infrastructure and housing appropriate for their development. It is necessary to design citizen participation processes with specific spaces and tools so that children and adolescents can express their voices and have their opinions considered.

Children and youth participation in city issues decision-making is clue for reinforcing their sense of citizenship and skills for an active contribution in their environments. Moreover, from a political point of view, children and youth participation is key for the success of democracy and social cohesion. Involvement in participation processes from an early age contributes to the civic engagement of future citizens (Print & Milner, 2009; Checkoway & Aldana, 2013) and strengthens 21st Century skills (Trilling & Fadel, 2012) needed for the growth of social capital (Putman, 2000). Participatory processes reinforce trust, horizontal connections and political commitment (Putman, 1993). All these contribute to a better government and, finally, a more just society (Dalton, 2017).

A successful participation process empowers them as citizens and should acknowledge the diversity of their experiences and perspectives; they are experts in the matters that concern them and can, therefore, contribute to better solutions (Edmonds, 2019). Children and youth are autonomous subjects and should be recognised as such (Lansdown 2005). They are also as diverse as adults, as there is no universal experience of childhood (Prout & James 1989), and their multiple perspectives, shaped by their cultures, territories, gender, age, and socioeconomic status, can bring in essential approaches for cities.

However, children and youth participation in city-related issues is currently not implemented enough (INN-OEA, 2010). Collaborative participation, which involves adults working with children and youth in decision-making processes or in developing plans and initiatives in which children and youth lead projects, is infrequent. Participation in concerns such as housing, public spaces, health, education, protection and culture is essential and a fundamental right (Movshovich, 2014). Children and adolescents are also neighbours of the neighbourhoods in which they live, and actual participation can improve their lives.

This panel will include presentations about different experiences of diverse children and youth participation in their cities and some theoretical proposals concerning limits and possibilities on the topic. It aims to contribute to the North-South cross-discussion about children and youth participation and diversity from a multidimensional perspective, linking the right to participation with children’s and youth’s understandings of their everyday life experiences and identities and different modalities of participation processes required (Percy-Smith & Thomas, 2009).

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

Diagonal Paraguay 257,
Torre 26, Oficina 1504
Santiago – RM

Los Navegantes 1963
Providencia – RM