Youth @ The 25th UN-Habitat Governing Council – 4th DAY – WRAP UP!

Youth Caucus – Wednesday – 22/04

Today we kicked off our Youth Caucus with a presentation about “Youth and Urbanization – A strategy for youth in UN-Habitat”, led by Helene Opsal from the UN-Habitat Youth Unit. The presentation explored some of the data we have about youth population in the urban world, and why it is so important to think about the youth perspective when it comes to urbanization.

The presentation emphasized that UN-Habitat recognizes youth as right-holders and apply the 5 Principles of Youth-Led Development in it’s youth programming, which are:

1.Youth define their own development goals and objectives;

2.Youth have a social and physical space to participate in development and to be regularly consulted;

3.Adult mentorship and peer-to-peer mentorship are encouraged;

4.Youth act as role models to help other youth engage in development; and

5.Youth are integrated into all local and national development programs and frameworks.

The presentation also covered the UN-Habitat proposed “three legged approach” which consist of:

– Urban Planning and Design – directs urbanization

– Legislation – guides implementation of plans

– Urban Finance – pays for planned and legislated urbanization

And we discussed some of the entry points for youth.

You can download the entire presentation here: Youth and Urbanization Presentation (Three Legged Approach) 

We took the opportunity to discuss about the UN-Habitat Youth strategy, which guides the work of the agency and the need for rethinking and update the curernt strategy, which we are hoping to do collaboratively online (More about it in the next post!)

We than, moved into discussing the resolutions, and we dedicated some time to reading through the current version of the Omnibus Resolution, particularly looking into the paragraphs relevant to youth! You can download the version of the resolution here: K1500938-HSP-GC-25-3-Add-1-ADVANCE markup

Side Event – “Using ICTs for youth participation in the design of public space projects” 

Organized by: UN-Habitat, Mojang, Mojang, Major Group for Children and Youth and Kounkuey Design Initiative.


The event was organized considering the proposed Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11), on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. It looked at the opportunities presented by SDG 11 for an enhanced focus on urban public spaces while debating how young people can take active part in implementing, monitoring and reporting on the “urban goal” with particular focus on target 11.7 which aims to provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities by 2030.

The event addressed young people’s ability to design and plan for safe, inclusive and accessible urban public spaces that provide opportunities for knowledge, civic engagement, employment as well as leisure activities. It presented the methodology of using Minecraft as a community participation tool and showcase case studies from around the world as successful examples of ICT’s potential in creating local ownership and engagement.

As cities grow and densify, access to well-designed and pleasant public spaces are becoming increasingly important. This is particularly true for those citizens – for example single mothers, the elderly and young people with low income – whose living circumstances are lacking in quality and comfort, or who are in special need of decent road infrastructure and communal spaces for health, recreation and socialization. Improving access to public spaces on the part of vulnerable urban residents is a powerful tool to improve equity in the city.

Chris Dekki, from the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, spoke about the crucial role young people can make in shaping communities and the importance of ensuring youth is part of the decision-making table.

ICT in the hands of youth can improve urban development, governance and livelihood opportunities, including by addressing issues of public space. Mobile phones with access to social media allow young people to engage local government on their own terms, expressing voice and engaging in community life. Building on existing social networks to extend into areas of governance can help improve local services and transparency and fight corruption. User generated data through social media and data-gathering apps can be used to promote opportunities which help local governments understand preferences of citizens, as well as to monitor service delivery and provide feedback to government. ICT provides a range of avenues for participatory planning that can improve urban public spaces.

Minecraft is a ‘sandbox’ computer game developed by Mojang and launched in 2011. The game has sold over 60 million copies worldwide, making it one of the world’s best-selling computer games. The gameplay is perhaps best imagined as a complex ‘digital Lego’. The creative aspects of Minecraft allow players to build structures out of textured cubes in a three-dimensional generated world, thus creating buildings similar to those produced by complex 3D modelling software.

Minecraft has been shown to be a useful tool in engaging young people in the design of urban public space projects. As part of the public space implementation process, participatory planning workshops are held with local youth in which they provide input into the design and eventual implementation and management of spaces. By using Minecraft in this way, young people are given the confidence to make urban professionals and policy makers listen to their ideas for improving the city. You can learn more about the project here:

You can watch the message by Lydia Winters, Director of Communications at Mojang, which explains a bit about how Minecraft is being used as a tool among young people: 

Community participation workshops with youth and Minecraft have been held in Kenya, Haiti, Mexico, Nigeria, Somalia, Peru, Nepal, Philippines and Bangladesh. The projects implemented so far show that using Minecraft adds value to community participation processes. Power relationships are changed, communities are engaged in new ways and the process presents great opportunities to engage hard-to-reach groups, particularly young people.

Bukonola Ngobi, from Kounkuey Design Initiative ( concluded the event bringing a strong hands-on example of how young people are already transforming their communities using ICTs. You can see her full presentation here: UN-Habitat Side Event 22-04-2014



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