The Ministers for Nordic Co-operation approved this strategy on 11 February 2016. This strategy is to be followed up every two years and evaluated before the end of 2024.
The Nordic Region must be the best place in the world for children and young people
This is the Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision for its efforts relating to children and young people, which is also part of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ overall vision for the Nordic Region to be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030, adopted by the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation. Work on the strategy for children and young people in the Nordic Region will contribute to the implementation of the Action Plan for 2021 to 2024 and its 12 objectives, and specifically objective 9: The Nordic Council of Ministers will contribute to good, equal, and secure health and welfare for all; and objective 11: The Nordic Council of Ministers will give Nordic civil society, especially children and young people, a louder voice and greater participation in Nordic co-operation, as well as increase their knowledge of the languages and cultures of neighbouring countries. Work with the strategy will also promote the implementation of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ policy for mainstreaming sustainable development, gender equality, and a child rights and youth perspective
Children and young people are priority target groups for the Nordic Council of Ministers, covering everyone up to the age of 25 and thus including boys, girls, and transgender children up to the age of 18 in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as young women, young men, and young transgender people up to the age of 25. Since there isn’t a sharp distinction between adolescents and adults, the target group may vary for different initiatives to include those older than 25. “Children and young people” is used as a unifying term in this strategy, but it is important to remember that children and young people are different, with different identities, experiences, and situations – something which the Nordic Council of Ministers must always take into account in its work.
On the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Nordic Council of Ministers will work to protect and promote the rights of children and young people and to provide opportunities for them to exercise these rights and participate in society. This means that all children and young people in the Nordic Region shall be entitled to enjoy a decent standard of living and to have influence over their own lives, regardless of their gender, gender identity or expression, ethnic background, religion or other expression of faith, disability, sexual orientation, or age. All children and young people have the right to social and economic security, to good physical and mental health, to recreational and cultural opportunities, to an identity and language, and to opportunities to learn and develop. All children and young people must be given the chance to have influence over their own lives, their immediate environment, and society at large.
This forms the basis for the Nordic Council of Ministers’ work with children and young people. The well-being of children and young people, as well as opportunities for them to exercise their rights, is a prerequisite for the continued development of the Nordic Region. For this reason, the Nordic Council of Ministers must work from the perspective that all children and young people are important here and now – not just in the future. In carrying out this work, it is crucial to integrate a gender and sustainability perspective as well. The Nordic Council of Ministers must contribute to the Nordic Region becoming a leader and pioneer in the efforts to create a society in which the rights and different perspectives of children and young people are respected and contribute to the development of society.
The overarching goals of the strategy are: (1) the better integration of the children’s rights and youth perspective into the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers as a whole, thus better highlighting and taking into consideration the voices of children and young people; and (2) a greater focus by the Nordic Council of Ministers on the three strategic focus areas that this strategy identifies as central to its efforts up to 2024. In preparing the sectors’ co-operation programmes, consideration must be given to the integration of this strategy for children and young people, including the strategic focus areas.
The aim of children’s rights and youth policy co-operation in the Nordic Region
Through continued close co-operation with regard to children and young people, the Nordic countries, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland achieve more together than they would on their own. The disparity in living conditions among children and young people is greatly influenced by their families and where in the Nordic Region they are living and growing up. This is why a local and regional focus is important to this co-operation.
Children’s rights and youth policy also touch upon and are affected by several policy areas, which often requires collaboration between different sectors of society. Nordic co-operation on children’s rights and youth policy will contribute to greater knowledge and deeper collaboration between the Nordic countries, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. Co-operation is taking place not only at a Nordic level, but internationally as well, primarily with the Baltic countries and the Baltic Sea region, as well as through co-operation with the Arctic and Barents regions, the Council of Europe, and the European Union.
By enabling various exchanges and meetings between children and young people, sharing experiences as part of projects and conferences, and sharing knowledge, methodologies, and research, we can together develop policies and practices that will make the Nordic Region the best place in the world for children and young people.