The Habitat III High Level Regional Meeting for the Asia-Pacific Region occurred on 21-22 October 2015, hosted by the Government of Indonesia to identify key issues and regional perspectives for the New Urban Agenda. Young people were strongly represented as a constituent group throughout these proceedings, with their activities coordinated by the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY).
A total of 30 youth participated in the High Level Regional Meeting: 18 from Indonesia and 12 from other countries within the Asia-Pacific region. These youth came from a number of major youth-led organisations, like the International Movement of Catholic Students – Pax Romana (IMCS), the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), Children and Youth International (CYI), the Japan Youth Platform for Post-2015, World Vision International (WVI), the Indonesian Green Action Forum (IGAF), and several others.
Throughout the forum, they worked hard to meet directly with Member States and stakeholders in order to advocate regional youth priorities and recommendations for the New Urban Agenda, in addition to maintaining two exhibition booths in the main foyer area to further highlight youth engagement. In addition, the UN Major Group for Children and Youth coordinated and hosted one side event about amplifying young Asian voices in the New Urban Agenda, whilst also having three representatives serving as panel speakers in two other side events.
On 22 October, young people’s voices were formally recognised in the meetings through the statement delivered on behalf of the Children and Youth Partner Constituent Group, a member of the General Assembly of Partners. UNMGCY, the chair of the Children and Youth Partner Constituent Group, delivered the statement which summarised the key priorities and recommendations of young people in the region on sustainable urban development, as outlined in the Asia-Pacific Children and Youth Position Towards the New Urban Agenda.
These positions were put together through the culmination of months of online and offline consultations facilitated by youth, in addition to the key themes arising from the Asia-Pacific Urban Youth Assembly (APUFY), which had gathered 300 young people together from the Asia-Pacific region earlier that week. In addition to making a strong call for children and youth to be seen as equal partners in the process, the statement also called for the right to safe and inclusive public spaces, a contextualised framework and new ways of financing sustainable urban urbanisation. It concluded by highlighting the critical importance of linking the New Urban Agenda with other intergovernmental processes to ensure coherency and build a more transformative, inclusive and sustainable future for all. You can see the full statement and the Asia-Pacific Children and Youth Position.
Overall, young people were highly engaged in this process, with many stakeholders voicing how impressed they were by the level and quality of youth engagement throughout the meetings. We were particularly pleased that most of the key points outlined in the Children and Youth Partner Constituent Group statement were incorporated into the outcome document of the meetings (the Jakarta Declaration), with stakeholder inclusion and participatory approaches strongly reflected in the language of the document.
Looking forward, the key regional youth priorities outlined in the Asia-Pacific Children and Youth Position Towards the New Urban Agenda will be used to continue to advocate the priorities of young people in the region with Member States and other stakeholders. In addition, the experience of meaningful youth engagement from this week will also be used to encourage stakeholders from other regions to prioritise youth participation and inclusion in all aspects of the Habitat III process leading up to Quito.