Written by: Judith Mulwa
Colombia, April 2016: UN-Habitat’s Youth Unit in partnership with Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA) launched the Colombia Urban Youth Fund Window at the AIESEC’s Youth Speak Forum. Over 300 young people witnessed the event from the Latin America & the Caribbean region, as well as UN-Habitat’s Youth and Livelihood Unit Leader, Mr. Douglas Ragan, Habitat Programme Manager in Colombia, Mr. Edgar Cataño Sánchez, SENA’s Director of International Relations, Dr. Juan Pablo Castro, and the president of AIESEC Colombia, Mr. Juan Carlos Fayad. This is one of four of similar cooperation’s globally, which makes it possible to fund several youth- led projects from the same country and have an increased presence in the region. The Colombia Urban Youth Fund window aims to focus on vulnerable and minority youth by contributing to strengthen their entrepreneurship capacity while at the same time assisting them to build their capacity to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”). The fund will empower these youth by providing them with grants and project management training to ensure the projects succeed.
The windows draw their framework and practices from the Global Urban Youth Fund program that has provided grants and capacity building to selected organizations in developing countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Caribbean and the Arab States. Annually, more than 8,000 youth-led organizations respond to the call for applications and about 30 organizations are selected to receive grants of up to USD 25,000. The Fund supports new and innovative ideas and solutions for job creation, good governance, adequate shelter and secure tenure planned and implemented by youth-led groups globally. This is with the aim of providing innovative solutions towards Sustainable Urban Development.
UN-Habitat embraces the belief that youth are a solution for sustainable urban development; the 21st session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council recognized this and proposed the fund with the objective to advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Habitat Agenda. UN-Habitat also trusts that the funded projects provide best practices on youth-led development important for undertaking researches. This in light of creating greater awareness of youth-led development and the urgency to ensure that youth perspectives are integrated into local, national and international development policies and strategies.
Dr. Juan Pablo Castro, SENA’s Director of International Relations endorsed the project and said that it was necessary in building the social and economic development in Colombia with a great focus on youth, vulnerable youth and minority youth. At the end of the launch the two partner representatives, Mr. Douglas Ragan and Dr. Juan Pablo Castro signed a letter of intent.