On the first of October a new Youth Advisory Board (YAB) was elected through a competitive online election. Over 580 applications had been submitted and narrowed down to 59 shortlisted candidates. In the following online election, more than 93,000 votes were cast to elect the sixteen new board members.
The new YAB has a mandate of two years and the sixteen new members, aged 18-32, will in this time seek to increase youth involvement in UN-Habitat initiatives. The board has an equal gender balance and includes representatives from Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, the Arab States, and Latin America and the Caribbean. New for this period are four additional advisory members chosen due to their expertise in the areas of housing, informal settlements, post-conflict and disabilities.
The successful new board members are the following.
- Hussein Nabil Murtaja (Palestine, Arab States) has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a Higher Diploma in applications and Entrepreneurship. He is currently a coordinator for projects at the Gaza Group of Culture and Development and a Director of an economic empowerment project for poor families in Gaza Strip.
- Hung Vo (United States, North America) is a student of Urban and Regional Studies at Cornell University and a researcher in the field of community planning and development. He recently co-authored a paper that appeared in the Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards.
- Margaret Koli (Kenya, Africa) works with the Human Needs Project (HNP) in the Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. HNP is dedicated to building self-sustaining town centers in slums around the world—centers that will prosper far into the future by working in complete partnership with locals to find the best solutions for the unique challenges encountered in each center location.
- S M Shaikat (Bangladesh, Asia Pacific) is working in a youth-led organization and he has been working on youth leadership, economic empowerment and gender violence prevention, and human rights in Bangladesh for more than a decade. Through his leadership, SERAC was awarded the 2010 UN-Habitat Youth Fund grant which empowered 50 disadvantaged young women by providing life skills training.
- Katerina Gavrielidou (Cyprus, Europe) is a young leader, passionate about youth empowerment, urban affairs and youth participation. Katerina is currently a Learner at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). She has previously served as Youth Ambassador at the Cyprus Youth Council, representing Cypriot and European youth on local, national and international youth summits.
- Jonas Freist-Held (Germany, Europe) is a student of Political Science at the Free University in Berlin and the University of California, Berkeley. In high school, he founded the awarded youth magazine PUBLIK to amplify youth voices. Since 2013, he has been the representative of the youth advisory board of the child rights organization Plan International Germany.
- Maria Diffallah (Algeria, Arab States) is a young medical doctor and human rights educator. She was the founder and President of Setif Empower Youth Association (SEYA). Maria’s work with SEYA involves developing programmes for promoting sustainable education and entrepreneurial skills for young people from the area of Setif in Algeria.
- Badi Zárate Khalili (Mexico, Latin America) is a youth leader and community developer. He currently studies Urbanization at the University of Guadalajara and is the regional delegate for the National Design, Urbanization and Planning Student Association. He has served as a volunteer in the social action programmes carried on by the International Bahá’i Community for over seven years.
- Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne (Sri Lanka, Asia-Pacific), is an environmental conservationist, eco-social entrepreneur and youth policy advocate. She is the youngest female recipient of the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development, and is also a Global Youth Ambassador with Office of the UN Special Envoy on Global Education.
- Debora Leao (Brazil, Latin America), is a social entrepreneur and youth advocate. She co-founded and is today fully dedicated to the development of Engajamundo, a non-profit youth-led organization that seeks to empower and engage youth in international policymaking processes that could shape our future.
- Olivia Labonté (Canada, North America), advises and works with a number of local and international institutions, including the OECD, the World Bank Group, the United Nations Foundation and the Parliament of Canada. In 2014, Olivia represented Canada at the Y20 Summit—a meeting of the official youth engagement group of the G20.
- Phares Monsan Josias Ambeu (Cote d’Ivoire, Africa) is currently the Internship Program Director with AIESEC in Côte d’Ivoire. He has over four years’ experience working on youth development and internships programmes. Phares is a Telecommunication engineer with interests in project management, digital marketing, administration and public relations.
- Julio Limo (Brazil, Housing Advisor) has worked along with more than 30,000 young volunteers that like him have the desire to change the world. He wants to continue this trail. He has a degree in IT for Business Management and has coordinated online courses for young social entrepreneurs.
- Amir Ben Ameur (Tunisia, Post Conflict Advisor) is a young social activist, who advocates for youth development and democracy. Amir currently studies Economics and Political Science at the American University in Cairo as Middle-East Partnership Initiative Tomorrow’s Leaders fellow.
- James Aniyamuzaala Rwampigi, (Uganda, Youth with disabilities Advisor) is a hearing impaired disability rights expert, researcher and independent advisor on accessible information and communication standards for persons with disabilities. He holds a Master’s Degree in Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Action from the University of Geneva, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics as well as a Human Rights fellowship training certificate from Columbia University, New York.
- Lama AlGhalib Alsharif, (Saudi Arabia, Future Saudi Cities programme Advisor) Lama has led the volunteer-based life of a social activist. Since the age of seventeen, she has been selected as a youth representative of Saudi Arabia in major conferences including the Sixty-Third UN General Assembly Conference in New York, USA and the World Economic Forum in held in Amman, Jordan. Lama is a Poet and a graduate of Dar Al-Hekma University and Tufts University.