Youth participation in local politics remains understudied in the Cambodian context, in particular the catalysts for and barriers to youth political engagement. This study hence aims to address youth engagement in local politics from the perspective of both young and older leaders. Drawing on in-depth interviews with local leaders across four provinces, along with quantitative evidence from a 2018 survey of political attitudes and participation, migration and lack of incentives are found to be the key factors preventing youth from local involvement. Some key internal and external factors were also identified to be catalysts for them to engage in politics, such as the desire to help communities and the role of local institutions in encouraging political participation. The barriers include challenging work tasks and lack of incentive, lack of support and respect and being afraid of speaking in meetings. Based on these findings, three key recommendations on how to advance youth participation in local politics are addressed including creating a supportive environment to ensure youths’ voices are being heard, promoting more youth in local development activities through various channels, and providing more support, incentives and budget to commune councils to attract more youth and citizens to join local development activities.