Youth @ THE 25TH UN-Habitat Governing Council – 3RD DAY WRAP-UP!

Youth Caucus – Tuesday – 21/04


Today at the Youth Caucus we started by sharing some of the side-events and activities that happened the day before. Special attention to:

  • “Human Rights in Cities and Cities for All” – which discussed human rights in the context of sustainable urban development, particularly discussing the “right to the city”. The side event also discussed the role and mandate of UN-Habitat within the framework of Habitat III and the Post-2015 Agenda.
  • “The Road from Sendai: Urban Sustainable Development in 2015 and Beyond” – which was a very interesting session attended by quite a few of the participants from the Youth Caucus, where it was discussed how can we move forward from the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, recently held in Sendai, Japan. The panel marked the beginning of a global commitment to prevent and mitigate the negative consequences of disaster, particularly in the urban context. The session was particularly interesting because it recognized the important role of youth and women have in disaster risk reduction and in community resilience.

Building on the reports from the previous session, we went a bit deeper into the discussions about what happened during the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, learning from the experience of representatives from the MGCY that were highly active from the very beginning. From the early stages and PrepComs until the very end, young people have been at the forefront of advocacy. At the conference in Sendai itself, the MGCY hosted a massive children and youth forum that engaged young people in the WCDRR and provided a platform for final inputs and advocacy into the outcome documents, the Second Hyogo Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction. The children and youth forum was attended by over 300 young people and was attended by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon himself.

Esther Muiruri, from the MGCY who attended the event in Japan, shared her experience, and told us that after Sendai, some of the participants decided to have a follow up beyond from the African Region, and among other things, facilitated a mentorship program for the forum participants, bringing the youth participants to meet and learn from some of the African Leaders who attended the conference.

Esther also told us that they form the “Africa Resilient Youth” which is a platform for youth engagement in DRR implementation in the African Region. They are currently finalizing on the implementation document which outlines our commitment to capacity build fellow young people and mobilize DRR Implementation action across Africa. For those who would like to get further information, and to get involved in this process, you can e-mail her directly:

In terms of the Negotiations, Tune, the Norwegian Youth Delegate gave us a brief update on the process, which is moving very slowly at this stage. So far, only 2 resolutions being negotiated and there is nothing on youth yet. Special attention needs to be paid for the Omnibus Resolution, to ensure language on youth is strengthened and youth is mainstreamed throughout the resolutions.

The second part of the Youth Caucus was reserved to presentations about the work UN-Habitat is doing in regards to youth:

  • Youth And Urbanization

Cities are home to an increasing number of youth. This brings new issues to the forefront of economic, political and human development globally, given that the majority of these youth overall are better connected, educated and informed than previous generations.

At the same time, inequalities are putting obstacles in the ways of youth inclusive development. Youth find themselves at challenge with lower salaries and less job opportunities (underemployment and unemployment), limited control over assets and property, and unequal participation in governance and public and private decision-making.

This type of marginalization is a barrier in terms of the collective productivity and progress of cities and countries. Urbanization requires new solutions that bring youth on-board as partners to find legitimate and inclusive ways to enhance the sustainability and quality of life for all living in cities; ultimately supporting the realization of people’s human rights.

  • Youth and Urban Public Spaces

UN-Habitat has as a core mandate the development of inclusive urban public space. Research by UN-Habitat has shown that youth are one of the principle users of urban space, due both to their large demographic presence in cities, as well as to their utilization of public amenities and space. The research is also clearly pointing towards the need for a stronger focus on young women and urban public space to address issues of dual discrimination in terms of age and gender. UN-Habitat’s State of the Indian Urban Youth Report (2012/2013) shows that young women are barred from using urban public space due to safety concerns, as they “cannot hang out on street corners the same way as young men”.

Perceived as a threat or challenge, youth often encounter numerous difficulties in accessing public spaces for their social, cultural and material development. Concerns over security and criminal gangs translate into the exclusion of urban youth, especially those from low-income and minority groups.

Public space is not only a venue for recreation and social interaction. Urban public spaces are critical for youth to use for shelter, community innovation and entrepreneurship in support of economic development. As a means to this end, ensuring youth engagement in the design and governance of public spaces has been shown to foster community ownership and social cohesion, something which is a fundamental component to stable, prosperous and safe cities.

  • The One Stop Youth Centre Model

The Youth Unit has developed different models to address issues of youth and urban public space, with the most well-known model being the One Stop Youth Resource Centres. This model addresses the need to create a safe and generative space where young men and women can access services in areas such as health and recreation, develop their skills and receive training based on existing needs. These activities, primarily designed by youth themselves, contribute to improved livelihoods, acquisition of skills, and increased employability.

UN-Habitat seeks to further develop the model, and is working with key regional and national partners to refine the model to scale. The model has already been adopted by the governments of Rwanda and Uganda where UN-Habitat has provided experience and knowledge in support of these efforts. UN-Habitat is also currently working to establish the model in Mogadishu in collaboration with the Federal Government of Somalia, supporting urban reconstruction and local economic development for youth.

We also heard the experience from the One Stop Centre in Kigali – for info on that project specifically:

  • Action Research on Youth and Land

Utilizing the knowledge gained through research and evaluation of the Urban Youth Fund to develop better policy at the local and national levels has been a core focus of UN-Habitat. Along this line, the Youth Unit partnered with the Global Land Tool Network to undertake a 2-year action research project on youth and land.

GLTN and the Youth Unit evaluated and selected 5 best practices from the Fund that focused on youth and land issues, and refunded them to for two years to focus on refining and expanding their work. Concluding at the end of 2014, the project has already resulted in a strengthened knowledge base on youth’s access to land and public space. Youth responsiveness criteria for land governance and tangible youth and land tools have been developed, building the capacity and awareness of youth on land challenges in the cities of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Kathmandu, Nepal; Sana’a, Yemen; Nairobi, Kenya; and Harare, Zimbabwe.

  • Youth as Development Partners

Key to the work on UN-Habitat is the recognition and support of youth as development partners, versus youth as clients. The anchor program of this focus area is the Urban Youth Fund with its various components (grants, training and capacity building, e-learning, and mentor program) which has now been running for 4 years, supported over 240 youth-led groups, based in 63 countries and 172 cities. The Fund is unique in the UN and multilateral system in that it supports youth-led agencies directly to achieve specific development goals through projects developed by the youth themselves, aligned with UN-Habitat’s thematic areas. The key significance of the Urban Youth Fund for UN-Habitat is the direct access to lessons-learnt and data on youth-led development to inform the normative policies of UN-Habitat.

  • Youth Engagement and Inclusive Governance

UN-Habitat supports the inclusion of youth in the social and economic life of cities. The issue of inclusion in either area is dependent upon the other – youth cannot have a sustainable and decent livelihood without being able to participate in decisions which directly affect their own and the life of their communities, and vice versa.

UN-Habitat works at a programmatic and normative level to engage youth in the social and economic life locally, nationally and internationally. The Youth 21 initiative was created by UN-Habitat, youth organizations and member states in 2011 to seek ways to better engage youth in international governance, specifically within the UN system. Youth 21 was expanded at the request of the stakeholders involved to include the engagement of youth using a multi-level governance model, which allows youth entry to governance at any point – locally, nationally and internationally.

Core to this focus area for the period 2014-2016 will be the Habitat III process. Women and youth organizations were actively involved in the processes towards Habitat II in Istanbul in 1996, and contributed to the fact that there are strong references to youth, women, gender and gender equality in the Istanbul Declaration and in the Habitat Agenda. The Habitat Agenda that came out of the Habitat II conference in 1996 in Istanbul, Turkey is one of the strongest UN documents on the right of participation of civil society, including youth groups.

  • Resilience, Reconstruction and Post-Conflict

In cities like Mogadishu and Kabul, generations of youth have lived through conflict. Many of these young people have endured lives of insecure economic prospects, violence and traumatization, with young women often facing dual discrimination due to their gender and age. Increased pressure on urban infrastructure and services, uncertainty and outbreaks of violence, lack of resources and support mechanisms as well as a general mistrust in society serve to further side-line, and in some cases radicalize, youth, making post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation even more challenging.

UN-Habitat supports countries in addressing issues such as these in countries including Somalia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria and Sri Lanka. Here, urban areas have faced a massive influx of displaced people and relief actors; breakdown of services; weakened institutions; and destruction of infrastructure and buildings.

Currently being developed, this portfolio seeks to utilize the decade long experience of the One Stop program and the Urban Youth Fund to develop a program which improves the livelihoods of youth and their communities particularly in post-conflict contexts, engaging youth as assets for development and bringing them on-board as development partners. Through this program, both normative and operational work on issues arising in line with the pace and scope of urban change as related to youth in conflict and post-conflict situations are underway.

  • Youth and Urban Sports

Pursuant to the Habitat Agenda, sports and recreation are designed to promote youth involvement in local governance and the improvement of human settlements. Pursuant to Governing

Council resolutions 19/3 and 20/1, using sports as an activity invites youth to partner in solving urban problems. Although many of the youth centres and youth fund recipients incorporate sports as part of their programme activities, sports and recreation also receives specific focus from UN-Habitat. Sports have been deployed as a way of engaging urban youth because of the passions that they inspire and the entertainment, health and economic benefits that accrue from them.

Programmes seek to empower participants and communities by engaging them in the design and delivery of activities, building local capacity, adhering to generally accepted principles of transparency and accountability, and pursuing sustainability through collaboration, partnerships and coordinated action.

For more information, you can go to our website:

To access the various UN-Habitat Youth publications, you can download them at:

Youth Statement – Plenary Session – Tuesday – 21/04

The Youth Delegate from Norway, Ms. Tone Vesterhus, delivered today at the Plenary Session of 25th UN-Habitat Governing Council, the youth statement on behalf of the Youth Caucus. You can find the full statement drafted by many hands here:


Harnessing the youth demographic dividend for a sustainable rural-urban development – Tuesday – 21/04


This event co-organized by IESCO (International Ecological Safety Collaborative Organization) explored the expansion of cities and large towns due to natural population growth within urban areas, as well as the administrative reclassification of land from rural to urban and migration from rural areas.

Traditionally the economic and territorial developments of rural and urban areas have been considered separate areas in both research and policy. Rural and urban areas are however becoming increasing integrated both physically and functionally and because of their distinct and complimentary endowments, their integration can benefit both and help achieve socio economic development. For example the areas surrounding urban centers generally have an important role in providing food for urban consumers, with proximity lowering the costs of transport and storage.

The global urbanization trends over the past 30 decades has facilitated unprecedented social, economic and environmental transformation in cities; but also accompanied by rural poverty despite the immense potential and opportunities in the rural sector. Those most affected are young people totaling nearly a quarter or 1.8 billion of a world population of 7.3 billion. About 90 per cent of young people are born in developing countries, where around half of the total population lives in rural areas which are synonymous with social and economic marginalization forcing most of them to migrate from rural areas to pursue better life opportunities in urban areas. While these youth populations in both rural and urban areas present enormous opportunities and human resource needed for economic development, social change and technological innovation, many of the countries with the largest portions of youth today are among the poorest in the world and face huge challenges in meeting the rapidly growing demand for jobs and income-earning opportunities. This calls for the development of policies that do not only boost rural economies but also create jobs for young people.

You can download the presentation made by Elizabeth Ssendiwala, Gender & Youth Coordinator, at IFAD-ESA here:UN Habitat – Harnessing Youth for Rural Urban Devt


Youth Cocktail – Tuesday – 21/04

11149287_10204055050789142_899974020133766907_nA Youth Cocktail was held in partnership with IESCO (International Ecological Safety Collaborative Organization) to celebrate the “Urban Youth Empowerment and Ecological Safety Project”.

The cocktail had speeches from Professor Oyebanji Oyeyinka, UN-Habitat Director/Chief Scientific Advisor, Dr. Jiang Mingjun, Director General of IESCO and Douglas Ragan, Chief of UN-Habitat Youth Unit.

During the cocktail, UN-Habitat/IESCO signed a MoU with CDO Orient, launched a call for nominations for the Youth Innovations Awards.


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