SALTO-YOUTH Title

Introducing the thinkers – experts of the Think Tank on Youth Participation

Alex Farrow (United Kingdom)
Alex supports civil society in the UK and around the world, attempting to improve the lives of communities through knowledge, training and expression. Alex is currently working at the National Council of Voluntary Organisations in England, supporting voluntary organisations to strengthen their strategy and evaluate their impact. Alex's area of interest are youth participation, policy and practice. He worked for the National Youth Agency and the British Youth Council, as well as freelancing extensively with organisations in the youth development sector. He has undertaken numerous research projects on youth participation, including with Restless Development, Commonwealth Secretariat, SALTO, and UNICEF. At Youth Policy Labs, Alex led on consultancy projects, supporting national governments and UN agencies to design, implement and evaluate national youth policies, through research, training and events. Alex is a campaigner - mostly on climate change, child rights and young people - and is active in UK politics. He is currently a trustee of Girlguiding UK and a member of the CIVICUS Youth Action Team.

Airi-Alina Allaste (Estonia)
Airi-Alina is a professor of sociology specialising in youth studies. For the past fifteen years she has been investigating young people’s participation including political participation, belonging to subcultures, impact of mobility and informal education to participation, etc. She considers defining youth participation extremely important, since it influences more widely how we approach young people. She believes cooperation between youth researchers, youth policy makers, youth field practitioners and young people themselves is important to find common understanding for further developments. Airi-Alina has also been a visiting professor at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), University of Griffith (Australia), University Institute of Lisbon (Portugal) and visiting scholar at the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Science.

Andras Farkas (Romania)
Andras believes participation is mostly about ownership. The ownership of a young person within a community, a village or a city, a region, a country, a continent, and the world. If a young person doesn’t feel he is part of a process, a decision, a place, an event, a process, a something, he/she will not take part in “that something”. Andras believes the main problem with youth participation at European level is that in a lot of cases it is considered just within the framework of the youth sector. Andra’s work focuses especially on the field of social innovation through participation, entrepreneurship and culture, with a dedicated focus on youth and digital technologies. Since 2014, he’s been coordinating the Network of European Youth Capitals, an informal network of cities which held, hold or are nominated to hold the European Youth Capital title in the future. Under this framework a set of new tools and methods emerged, such as the European youth friendly cities quality label called 100% Youth City, or Com’On Europe, the European Platform of Participatory Budgeting for Youth. At local level, he is one of the co-founders and the strategic directors of the PONT Group, an NGO established in 2009 in Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, Romania which managed to become an NGO with 11 staff members from scratch.

Anna Robinson (Ireland/Belgium)
Anna is currently working as a policy advisor for Soraya Post, the first MEP ever to be elected to the European Parliament from an ideologically feminist and anti-racist political party, the Swedish Feminist Initiative. Anna advises her in her work in two committees, AFET (foreign affairs) and DROI (human rights outside of the EU), as well as gender and minority rights. Previously, Anna was working at the European Roma Rights Centre. She still addresses Roma rights in her work as MEP Post is also a strong Roma activist. In addition, Anna is one of the co-chairs of the executive board of IGLYO, the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Intersex Youth and Student organisation. As co-chair of IGLYO, one of their key objectives is to empower young LGBTIQ people to become engaged in civil society, national and international politics and advocacy. They work hard to increase the visibility and highlight the diversity of LGBTQI youth identities. They also aim to change attitudes in society and influence decision makers on all levels by ensuring LGBTQI young people’s voices and experiences are present, heard and affirmed.  IGLYO does this by supporting and promoting positive youth role models within the LGBTQI population and celebrating their diversity.


Barbara Moś (Poland)
Barbara is a trainer, youth worker and manager of the youth organisation in Kraków: Association Europe4Youth. Moreover: educational tools designer (board games, LARPs, workshops on competences development); consultant for youth policies (president of counselling body in the field of youth in Kraków); youth information consultant (Eurodesk); freelance trainer (focusing on leadership programs, diversity, youth participation, intercultural competences, creativity and innovations, methodologies and tools of non-formal education); author of many publications on youth participation (manuals, videos, scientific articles); collaborator of Jagiellonian University, giving courses compensating competency gap occurring among students of political science department. Educated formally in the field of international relations, sociology and organisational management. Youth participation is her field of interest and source of inspiration. She see it as an open space for expression and exchange of views and opinions between young people and decision makers in any field – school, family, organisation, local community, state, Europe. Barbara also sees it as democratic, inclusive process based on respect for rights and co-managed by all respective parties.

Bernhard Hayden (Austria/Sweden)
Bernhard is the outgoing President of Young Pirates of Europe, a federation of 7 European youth organisations working on strengthening the youth voice in the field of digital rights and Internet Governance. He has been active there since 2014 and worked together with young people as a workshop facilitator, outreach officer, and organiser of online consultation processes. He wants to contribute to the outcomes of SALTO Think Tank in order to create sustainable structures that allow young people across Europe to overcome the stage of "just being heard", and by fighting against power structures and prejudices that usually lead to the youth voice being ignored.

Carlos Teixeira (Portugal/France)
Carlos is an economist by training and entrepreneur by instinct, as he says. He is currently working at the Permanent Representation of Portugal to the Council of Europe, as an aspiring young diplomat, focusing in the fields of human rights, democracy and rule of law. Previously, Carlos has worked at the European Commission, in the Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas. At the age of 15, he and his two friends (with the support of local Rotary Club) founded an Interact Club, allowing youngsters to have an increased participation in their community. Some years later, he created the following level within the Rotarian framework – a Rotaract Club. Carlos has also been Vice-President within NOVA Skills Association, a student-led organisation which focused on the development of Soft Skills in the academic community. Earlier in his career, he was granted the Angelini University Award, given the title of Portugal’s Young Scientific Journalist and elected the 2013’s best Portuguese student on Mathematics by the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon. In September 2018, he will be starting his Master in Public Policy and Public Administration. Tackling the diminishing political and civic participation as well as the lack of trust in our governance mechanisms will only happen if we focus on youth participation, Carlos believes. He is sure that we need a democratic system that meets the evolving expectations and needs of individuals, which can only happen if we ensure that incentives are properly placed – namely through institutional innovation, data-based governance and education for citizenship.

Corina Pirvulescu (Romania/Belgium)
Corina is a professional and activist in the youth sector, dedicated to shape communities where young people are fully empowered to participate as equal partners decision-making and have the opportunity to reach their full potential. She has a vast experience in working with a complexity of public policies and program management in youth sector, from local to international level. Corina is particularly interested in models of youth participation and development of youth work. Over the past 14 years, she has volunteered and worked with very diverse youth-led and youth-focused organisations: from local and national youth council in Romania to European and international youth networks. In advancing her passion for youth participation, Corina is a co-founder of the Think-Tank & Resource Centre ‘Social DOers’ and an IREX Fellow (US Dept. State funded) since 2015, when she worked with Chicago Votes on voter registration and education of young people. She is a strong believer in encouraging young people to take over the spaces where decisions can be influenced and adapting the policies and institutions to the new trends. She considers the present and future of youth participation can only be discussed in the context of digitalisation, access to internet and the role of social media in re-shaping the way we communicate and mobilise young people to take real action.

Dan Moxon (United Kingdom)
Dan is an expert in the field of youth participation, with 20 years of experience working with children and young people in the voluntary, public, for-profit and academic sectors. Dan is a Director of People Dialogue and Change, a consultancy providing capacity building services for organisations who wish to develop their approach to youth participation and youth engagement. He has led work on behalf of UK Youth Parliament, The Council of Europe, The British Youth Council, The Department of Health, The Railway Children, The 2017-18 Trio of EU Presidencies, The Commonwealth Youth Programme and well as a variety of local authorities, voluntary organisations and research institutions in the UK, and across Europe. His work includes a variety of multi-county youth participation initiatives for Eurochild and The European Patient forum. Dan is also an experienced researcher and evaluator with a research focus on children and young people's participation and using participatory research techniques to enable young people to influence policy and strategy. He is an Associate Director at the University of Central Lancashire’s Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation and is currently undertaking his professional doctorate on collaborative knowledge production between young people and adults.

Evaldas Rupkus (Lithuania/Germany)
Evaldas started as president of regional youth council in Lithuania, continued as Eurodesk programme coordinator at the Lithuanian Youth Council and member of the European executive committee of the European youth mobility information network. Initiator of generalist youth information and counselling system in Lithuania, consultant and author for European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA). He has coordinated a group of young artists for socio-cultural participation at Goethe Institute in Vilnius. Evaldas has also lived in Switzerland, in Austria and is now based in Bonn. He has just finished managing marketing of the “EUth – Tools and Tips for Mobile and Digital Youth Participation in and across Europe” (opin.me; financed by Horizon 2020). Evaldas has also co-developed and delivered eParticipation training course for initiators and is active in digitalisation of the youth sector with the will to bring in aspects of impact and synergies to youth participation in decision-making processes.

Johanna Schwarz (Germany)
Johanna is UN Youth Representative and Youth Expert on the Sustainable Development Goals. She has recently graduated from LSE with a Master’s in Climate Change, where she focused on renewable energies, innovation- and technology management. Though her voluntary work always circled around working with youth, her advocacy for youth participation first started when she joined DMUN in 2012 – a youth-led NGO affiliated with the UN ECOSOC, which focuses on increasing youth participation in (international) politics, empowering youth and promoting global learning. Since 2014, Johanna has led DMUN’s international activities as Head of NGO Liaison and was responsible for creating the strategy on how to increase youth participation in the system of the UN. In this role, she was able to attend various conferences and speak on the importance of youth participation in decision-making processes, i.e. UN conferences, WEF, COY11 or TEDxYouth@DeutscheTelekom. Today Johanna is involved in various youth networks and constantly works with relevant stakeholders like UN youth delegates or the youth advisory board of UN Habitat to share resources, strengthen the networks and create synergies. Increasing youth participation in her vision can help (1) decreasing political disinterest among young people, by showing them that their voices matter, (2) increasing innovative potential and solutions through integrating multiple viewpoints in the discussion and (3) reaching more sustainable and long-term political decisions, which add value to society beyond the current legislative period, by including multiple generations in the decision-making process. Strengthening youth participation in decision-making essentially equates to reaching intergenerational justice.

Konstantinos Spatiotis (Greece)
Konstantinos has been involved in international youth work and non-formal and experiential learning since 2005. His experience since then has been in a variety of project in terms of partners involved and themes of activity, realised in both local and international levels. He has assumed different roles and tasks from project management and coordination, educational event designer and trainer/facilitator, concept development, and consultancy within youth matters. His focus has always been on the activation of communities and especially youth through both conventional and alternative ways of participation, including collaborations with individual young people, independent youth groups, youth and other non-profit organisations, National Agencies, SALTOs and other European, national and local Institutions. Konstantinos says that he is also a "child" of the European Commission Youth Programmes. Accordingly, active citizenship is not just the focus of his work, but also his passion where his values lie. The activation of young people, the support to youth structures and the space for their conscious and meaningful participation is, in his opinion, the only way forward through the current global challenges. Konstantinos sees youth participation as a mean to development of all actors involved and a "give and take" process where citizenship comes closer to the etymology of the term and communities come closer to the vision of a fairer, more open, more sustainable and inclusive standards. His vision in regards, includes processes and philosophies of co-management and participatory approaches, inclusion, divergent thinking, transparency and a win-win-win-win approach (for me, for you, the community and the Earth). A beautiful world, that needs a bit of repainting.... Youth Participation to "repaint the world".

Kristen Aigro (Estonia)
She is a Board Member at the European Youth Forum (YFJ) where her field is the topic of youth participation. YFJ represents more than 100 youth organisations and 50 million young people in Europe advocating for youth rights towards institutions such as the EU, Council of Europe and the United Nations. The movement is democratic and youth-led. Participation is one of the main advocacy points for the YFJ, which engages in projects such as the Structured Dialogue, campaigns for lowering the voting age and calls for greater support and recognition of youth in civil society. She started her activism in school student organisations, helped campaign for lowering the voting age to 16 in Estonia and belonged to the European Steering Committee on Structured Dialogue during the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Luca Bucken (Germany/The Netherlands)
Luca has worked with juvenile offenders in Manila, supported the investigation of sex trafficking in Philippines provinces, and came to support survivors struggling to piece together their lives in the aftermaths of the typhoons. While studying law, he co-founded an NGO campaigning for human rights in Germany and volunteered for a refugee search and rescue organisation in Lesvos, Greece. Currently Luca’s focus is organising communities in support of the Global Goals — as Partnerships Director of Liter of Light training communities in 30+ countries how to build solar lights. He is also aPublic Relations Advisor of Maastricht University, Ambassador at One Young World and #TeachSDGs, and Advisory Board Member to AYSDN. Luca profoundly also believes that there is no such thing as being too young to lead. He is convinced that the participation of youth holds part of the keys to a better Europe and a better world – without the youth, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will remain an unachievable vision. Luca says that the work of SALTO and Erasmus+ and its visionary strategic objectives formulated under the SALTO Participation priorities are essential and crucial impacting the participation of young people. This is the reason why Luca is ready to dedicatie his passion and enthusiasm for social engagement and justice in furtherance of SALTO’s contribution to strong, inclusive, and equal youth participation.

Manju Nair (United Kingdom)
Manju’s vision for youth participation, at its core, is to seek to move young people away from a ‘charity’ mentality to one of ‘social justice’ and activism. This involves deepening participants’ (including facilitators’) critical thinking and highlighting the disparity between ‘soft versus critical global citizenship education’ (Andreotti.V). Manju works with youth to produce innovative and imaginative responses to the challenges and issues affecting our world locally and globally, based on critical thinking and enquiry into issues and ideas around values, privilege and equality. As a global citizenship practitioner her work centres on pedagogies for 'community building'- to bring young people and decision makers into spaces for mutual understanding where hearts and minds can engage to bring about change within our communities, while addressing the question ‘Who is missing from the decision-making table?’ Manju’s practice is informed by philosophies both within and beyond familiar Western thinking and incorporates participants’ diverse cultural and social experiences. She enjoys considering new ‘wisdoms’ to bring to her work – be it a chance encounter on a train, Dani D’Emilia’s ‘Radical Tenderness Manifesto’, a poem by Rumi or Rilke, a scene from ‘Star Wars’ or a character on “Breaking Bad”. As well as being a Star Wars fan, she enjoys reading graphic novels and discovering world music.

Mara Georgescu (Romania/France)
Mara is a youth work and policy officer at the partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth. She has joined the Think Tank to represent the partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth. The EU-CoE youth partnership has worked on the theme of young people's participation and citizenship both in terms of research, as well as creating tools and opportunities for practitioners from the youth field, youth researchers and policy makers to enhance young people's participation in all matters that concern them.

Martin Fischer (Germany)
Martin is a media and game educator. Martin has a rich background in youth-led organisations and networks. He was involved in the Young European Federalists (JEF), student council and several political and cultural movements before engaging stronger in youth policy through the European Youth Forum and the Structured Dialogue. Martin currently works freelance as a trainer but also works with a foundation of the city of Berlin to support local youth participation and digital youth work.

Mathieu Orphanides (Cyprus/Belgium)
Mathieu is a Cypriot citizen, born and raised in Congo and working at the European Commission in Brussels since 2002 in DG Education and Culture. Over the past 2 years, he has been working on the Erasmus+ programme Youth, the European Solidarity Corps, the Traineeship programme and currently he is also involved in the implementation of a new EU initiative encouraging young people who are turning 18 to discover European cultural heritage through EU-subsidised rail passes. Throughout the Erasmus+ programme and all the projects in which he has been involved, youth participation has always been a recurrent theme and objective. Furthermore, youth participation is one of the values that all European Institutions seek to promote. Mathieu believes that we should endeavour to maximise youth participation in our efforts to support community building.

Oisín Bowyer (Ireland)
Oisín hails from a rural town in Ireland and this autumn he hopes to go to university. He is an avid traveller and loves discovering new places and meeting new people. In terms of youth participation he still likes to think that 'I'm down with the kids'. From age 12 he has been involved in policy development, advocacy and activism with various NGO's and the Irish Department of Education. He says he is really looking forward to this great opportunity of being in the Think Tank and having the chance to have an impact of the future of youth participation.

Roger Tibar (Estonia)
Roger is the Chairman of the Board of the Estonian National Youth Council. He has been active in the field of youth participation for 6 years now. Roger has been a member and the chairman in local, regional ja university youth organisations. His first involvement in representing youth and managing the conversation between decision makers and local youth started in 2012, when he was just 16 years old. By now he has had the opportunity to be part of decision making processes on different levels and know the disadvantages when it comes to involve youth in local and national governing. The vision for him is to have youth participation councils or some other forms of participation groups working within all of the local governments in Estonia. In addition he would like to see the shift of thinking for the decision makers – so that they would proactively want to involve youth in planning and operational processes.

Roman Banari (Moldova)
Roman is an activist for human rights and non-discrimination, with specialisation on most vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, Roma people, and young people who are among the most discriminated groups. Roman is a legal analyst and advocate for human rights, and is also involved as a trainer in Non-discrimination Coalition. He is also a trainer on social responsibility, human rights and non-discrimination and works as a Law teacher at a college in Moldova. Roman currently serves as the Vice-President of National Youth Council of Moldova and holds a post asan expert in the Expert Council for monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (under the Office of People’s Advocate, OMBUDSMAN).

Katrin Jaschinski (Germany)
Working with and for young people has always been a main topic for Katrin, practical when teaching climbing, or in experiential learning, more abstract in education research or Social Anthropology. She considers herself a fan of interdisciplinary work, connecting field and theory, mutual and ongoing learning. For young people she ideally sees enough space to speak and be heard (resulting in action), as well as opportunities and support in making themselves heard. Katrin currently work as Lead Research for the project Occupy Learning, which focusses on learning possibilities in public space. Here, my research team and I investigate how initiatives or people use public space to share knowledge and involve people in mutual learning in public spaces. In addition,  she also works with young people in the field of experiential learning.

back to top