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This policy brief highlights the crucial role of religious leaders and local authorities to engage young people when addressing their social and economic exclusion in promoting cohesive urban communities. As Europe becomes increasingly urbanised, cities can play a pivotal role in actively engaging young people’s talents and bridging intergenerational gaps, harnessing the key role of religious leaders and actors. This policy brief advocates systemic youth participation in decision-making, emphasising the importance of dialogue across religious, cultural and generational divides to enable effective youth leadership. To achieve impact, these efforts should include open and frank discussions on contentious issues important to young people, such as diversity, inclusion, equity and equal participation. By outlining the challenges of marginalisation and the power dynamics young people face, particularly those from minority groups, this policy brief points to successful participatory governance models in European cities as examples of how to empower youth. When religious and secular leaders adopt approaches that resonate with young people’s values and aspirations, they foster a conducive environment for meaningful community engagement that can unlock the changemaking potential of young people.