Youth Statement at the Plenary of the 25th Governing Council – 21st April 2015

The Youth Delegate from Norway, Ms. Tone Vesterhus (@ToneVe), delivered today at the Plenary Session of 25th UN-Habitat Governing Council, the youth statement on behalf of the Youth Caucus. Below, you can find the full statement drafted by many hands!

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“I appreciate this opportunity to highlight some of the issues concerning youth that will be highly relevant in the post 2015 agenda and in the implementation of the sustainable development goals. This statement is emerging from the youth caucus at the 25th session of the governing council.

Participation

Youth represent both present and future leadership and possess an abiding interest in their communities.  This exclusion of youth from democratic processes is an obstacle to fully harnessing the capacities and potential of young people as agents of positive change. Youth must be secured a formal position in all governance structures, this is vital to both the development of policies and within the implementation of the sustainable development goals, especially considering goal 11 on inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities. Further, the work towards establishing permanent mechanisms for youth participation in the UN must be scaled up, we are at a point where different models for permanent participation can be explored.

Employment and education

The labour market outlook for young people has worsened in nearly every region of the world, and the youth unemployment and underemployment rates are increasing in both developed and developing countries. The labour market in many countries is characterized by informal practices and little or no job security. Young people are particularly vulnerable to these factors as well as general exploitation as workers due to the unequal economic growth and formal job growth and secondly, the mismatch in skills between those demanded by employers and those acquired in school. Member states must provide mechanisms that prevents the exploitation of youth related to the labour market and promotes decent work. Special focus is needed for the millions of youth NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, Training). Goal 8 must ensure a special focus on youth as we are such a large group in this context.

Education is important to give young people the opportunity to influence their own lives and to ensure access to the labor market. Governments have the responsibility to provide quality education and skill training which is needed in the labor market, as well as a responsibility for creating and maintaining sustainable jobs for youth.

The universal right to education is hindered by various factors, lack of mobility being one of them. Within the subject of urban planning there must be given attention to the abolishment of barriers against education, especially for young girls. Girls are more frequently victims of the lack of safety in cities, and are therefore to a greater extent prevented from accessing education due to lack of sufficiently safe infrastructure. In achieving both the suggested goal 4 and 5, this is vital.

Public space

Public space should inherently be a public good that must benefit all segments of the population. This, however, is not always the case. In relation to the suggested target 11.2, mobility should not only be a matter of developing transport infrastructure and services but as well promote all user rights towards access as well as sustainability especially in regard public transport with consideration to Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. It has to be placed in a systemic context including city planning as a whole, to overcome the social, economic, political, and physical constraints of movement. Public space needs to be designed in a way that is not discriminating or excluding towards specific groups, and achieving this is profoundly about including these groups in the planning and development of the city and our common public spaces. An emphasis should be put on including youth in these processes, as they are both present and future users of the city, and can provide valuable input towards creating spaces that are welcoming to the whole public.”

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