Courtesy of Rhoda Omenya, UN-Habitat
‘Opportunities for the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) – an apt theme of the twenty-sixth session of the Governing Council (GC26) delving into prospects for attaining the NUA – a global roadmap setting global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development, rethinking the way we build, manage, and live in cities by fostering cooperation with committed partners, relevant stakeholders, and urban actors at all levels of government as well as the private sector.
Commitments have been made in the NUA such as: “Everyone has the right to benefit from what their cities offer. The New Urban Agenda calls on local governments to take into account the needs of women, youth and children, people with disabilities, marginalized groups, older persons, indigenous people, among other groups.
With this in mind, experts and practitioners from the UN, World Bank, private sector, and national and local government; were brought together to deliberate in a side event dubbed Combating Poverty and Promoting Peace through Job Creation Opportunities for Young Men and Women in African Cities that took place on 8th May 2017.
John Sibi Okumu, a Kenyan media consultant, editor and translator; moderated the event that began with a moment of silence and remembrance for the late H.E. Abass Siraji, Somali Minister of Public Works, Housing and Reconstruction, who was killed in an accident involving bodyguards of another government official. The late Abass, who was Somalia’s youngest member of cabinet, was to give the keynote address that was given by Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda.
Mr. Mohieldin shared on the World Bank’s researches on Africa showing dense and disconnected cities that are expensive for households. Further city growth in Africa has not in tandem with economic growth as is the case in Asian nations such as China and Vietnam. He also shared on the collaborations that World Bank has with UN-Habitat such as – municipal finance. Improved municipal finance, infrastructure investment and improved land management as some of the key action points for policy makers to focus on in light of sustainable growth of cities. Moreover, he emphasized on the need to incorporate technology in order to gain the involvement of youth in city growth.
‘Before proposing a new idea, it is useful to eliminate existing bad ideas’ – Mr. Mohieldin.
Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the Deputy Executive Director, UN-Habitat then thanked all participants of the side event, welcomed them to GC26 and specifically to the discussion on youth, women and jobs.
Her opening remarks were followed by a case study presentation on Shaqeso Training Programme – part of the Youth Employment Programme (YES) in Somalia. As an integrated 3 month training programme targeting youth aged between 17 and 25 – launched in Oct 2016; YES aims to capitalize on recent security, governance and reconciliation achievements in Somalia. Through the programme youth acquire comprehensive life skills, construction skills training, how to build your own business, among others. Through the programme Mogadishu youth are able to meet, socialize an acquire skills that will increase their employability given the bleak employment landscape in Somali especially for youth and more so in the formal sector.
The case study presentation was part of a moderated discussion on the same by a panel comprising:
- Ms. Aminata Traore, Former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mali
- Mr. Nick Langford, Country Head, Kenya, Tatu City
- Ms. Mary Kawar, Director, ILO Country Office, East Africa
- Ms. Margaret Koli, UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board
- Joyati Das, Senior Director, Urban Programs, World Vision International
Here are some snippets of their comments:
- Ms. Aminata Traore: ‘The more important thing is to question the economic model. Is it creating jobs? If the economy is not able to create jobs, then the country is in trouble. Peace building starts by job creation’.
- Mr. Nick Langford: ‘Kenya’s most pressing problem is youth unemployment’.
- Ms. Mary Kawar: ‘African women have a higher economic participation in comparison to the Arab States and yet the work is not paying enough. Peacebuilding has direct implications on labor relations – fair working conditions for everyone (both employer and employee)’.
- Ms. Margaret Koli: ‘Collaboration among young people has resulted in a myriad of innovations’.
- Joyati Das: ‘With guidance and active involvement, youth can become peace builders’.
Throughout the session, the emerging theme was that youth are not only leaders of tomorrow but leaders of today and they matter. When equipped with the right tools and given opportunities to lead, youth are catalysts of progress and peace.
In his last speech at TEDxMogadishu 2017, the late H.E. Abass emphasized the importance of young people in rebuilding a nation. Before he finished the talk, Abass posed a very emotional question: “Everyone should ask themselves, what can you do for your country?
We ask: “What can you do for your youth?”