Asia-Pacific Urban Youth Assembly 2015 – How it all began

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The first ever APUFY kicked off on Saturday October 17th in Jakarta, Indonesia with number of optional activities at the Ministry of Public Works and Housing. Although  optional, the 70% turn-out suggested the quality and energy of the historic event. Motivated and eager participants jumped into discussions without further encouragement and were later rewarded with a welcome reception hosted by the Minister Basuki Hadimuljono himself. To set the mood, the Minister proved he’s not only a man of big words and tough decisions, but also a melody when he sang and danced on the stage along other guests and APUFY participants.

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The main activities were set for Sunday October 18th. An impressive line-up of honorable speakers gave their opening remarks to the audience of 300 youth participants from all over the region, carefully selected out of almost 2000 applicants. Douglas Ragan, Chief of the Youth Unit, UN-HABITAT alongside Basuki Hadimuljono, the Minister of Public Works and Housing, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Governor of DKI Jakarta and Gatot S. Dewa Broto, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Indonesia opened this remarkable event.

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The opening session set the scene and placed APUFY’s deliberations in the context of the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals and the emerging New Urban Agenda to be adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, aka. Habitat III. Remarks have been made in the global, regional as well as Indonesian context. Not surprisingly, youth came to be the key stakeholder in the equation of finding solutions to urban challenges.

Following the Opening, there was a very interesting and often amusing dialogue session between the Governor of DKI Jakarta, the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport and the participants. The participants had a unique opportunity to ask any question and they used it without hesitation. Luckily, both of the honorable guests were eager to talk to the young people, and have answered even the most direct and sensitive questions. Here are some of the highlights of the Q&As:

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Q: I have heard Indonesia has a large number of young people. What is the most effective way to take advantage of such youthful population?

A: The most important thing is to educate them and prepare them for adult life. We need to fight high unemployment rates by facilitating their integration to public as well as private sectors. We need to create sufficient opportunities and activities for young people to grow and develop.

Q: What do you expect from youth in terms of building sustainable and resistant cities?

A: To contribute to building and fostering the unity and diversity, two very important things in Indonesia. I can’t even imagine how the Indonesian independency would look like without the young people. Given the huge number of youth, nothing can work properly without their involvement. Young people shall stop to be underestimated. Remember the Arab Spring. It would have never happened without the active participation of the Tunisian youth.

Q: How can youth be better involved in decision-making?

A: Internet represents a great platform as they can share their ideas, thoughts and opinion with their peers as well as us, the officials. Open data are public and cannot be modified before they reach us which helps to fight corruption as well. We can also make our budgeting and policy making more transparent and thus facilitate easier participation of young people. Lastly, we need to work on improving of our own image in public. Many young people believe that government officials are lazy and that they don’t care about them. We need to make ourselves more approachable to prove them wrong.

And what were the recommendations for the way forward?

o Having more public spaces for recreation and activities in social housing and public spaces generally which encourage multigenerational interaction.

o Electronic planning and budgeting that allows transparency because data is easily accessible.

o District level discussions that go to city and then province level.

o Making things transparent allows youth to get involved through these forums.

o Using social media and QLUE program.

o Create incentives for young people to innovate for cities and participate, not just about entertaining young people without results and not just about financial support. Harness creativity of young people.

o Governments should not only give voice to youth but also opportunities.

o Use ICT that is not just about entertainment but focuses on encouraging youth to innovate.

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