UN-Habitat Celebrates Youth, Peace and Sustainability

UN-Habitat, the UN programme for sustainable urban development, is celebrating youth, peace and sustainability leading up to the International  Day of Peace on 21 September.

The goal of this celebration is to raise the awareness of the general public about the vital role of young men and women in peace building.

According to UNDP, more than 600 million young people live in fragile and conflict-affected regions and countries. But beyond their status as victims, the International Day of Peace, with the theme “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All,” aims to recognize the role young people play as agents for peace.

“Today, thousands of young women and men work tirelessly, often under very dangerous conditions and with very little support or recognition, to build peace and promote security for all…[Young people} are the most valuable force: we have to shape a better future,”said Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

This celebration will consist of a number of on and offline events culminating in the International Peace Day Celebration at the United Nations compound in Nairobi, Kenya. The event on 21 September will bring together dignitaries and youth to celebrate and advocate for youth and peace globally.

The online events will highlight evidence-based promising practices in youth peace building –  such as the Colombia Urban Peace Labs initiative –  and peace building projects and activities in gender, governance and sports.

“As youth we should keep on engaging in developing our communities by using whatever resources we get either from the government or through our organizations. Our unity and idea’s are what we have for now and we don’t have to bleed so that they lead, but we can lead our generation to a better tomorrow,” said Isaac Mwasa, Coordinator One Stop Environmental Centre, Mathare, Kenya 

We encourage the media and public to join our online conversations to learn about innovative research and practices that show great promise in the field of youth peace building. Youth are called upon to air challenges affecting youth in urban places and contribute possible solutions to mitigate contributing negative factors.

The attached fact sheet provides a schedule for the IPM events and key hash tags throughout the month.

For more information about International Peace Day event, please visit: UN-Habitat Youth

To arrange feature interviews with project coordinators, contact:

Douglas Ragan, Chief, Youth and Livelihoods Unit, Email: douglas.ragan@unhabitat.org

Or Jeanette Elsworth, Head of Press and Media: jeanette.elsworth@unhabitat.org

International Peace Month Events:

Urban Peace Lab Training (28 Aug to 2 Sept , Cali, Colombia)

The ten youth groups selected will undergo a week long training undertaken by UN-Habitat, SENA, Ashoka and IMPACT HUB in the areas of small business development, social entrepreneurship, social innovation, peace building and programme management.


Awarding of the Urban Peace Labs recipients (29 Aug Colombia, Nairobi).The Urban Peace Labs initiative is a partnership between UN-Habitat and Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA) with the goal of promoting peace and entrepreneurship amongst Colombian youth. Ten youth groups will be awarded grants to undertake social entrepreneurship projects that advance the goal of peace in Colombia.


Inclusive Cities Summit (29 – 30 Aug)
The Inclusive Cities Summit will bring together leaders to translate the New Urban Agenda into a Toronto and Canadian cities context. The Summit will examine how we can build better cities, and based on trends, a better world of the future through a New Urban Agenda and 2030 Agenda lens that also advances the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Innovate Counties Challenge (3 to 7 Sept )

The project seeks to establish ICT based mechanisms for democratic and inclusive participation at local level to enhance youth engagement in local governance in Kenyan small and medium sized cities. The project seeks to accomplish increased youth participation in decision-making processes at the local county government level and; Increase transparency and accountability of local county governments.

#InnovativeYouth4Peace     #IYP

Sports and Peace Building (8 – 12 Sept)

UN-Habitat is committed to continue using sports as a powerful tool for building culture of peace in conflict and post-conflict countries. Organized sport activities are regularly delivered to vulnerable and marginalized young people in the One Stop Youth Centers, unique model of community youth hubs set up to mobilize, empower and inspire the young generation to become active citizens and contributors to the efforts of rebuilding their countries.


Peace Now! – Goyang, South Korea (13 – 17 Sept)

On International Youth Day 2017, 500 youth gathered in Goyang, South Korea and launched the Peace Now! Declaration calling for immediate cessation of hostile intent: in the Korean peninsula and the start of talks leading to peace. The initiative is part of the Youth 21 youth and good governance programme which seeks to engage youth in


International Peace Day Celebration – UN Compound and Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya (21 September)

The event will highlight evidence-based promising practices in youth peace building, such as: the Urban Peace Labs initiative; gender and peace building; governance and peace building; sports and peace building  The event will be graced by Elizabeth Taylor Jay, Colombian Ambassador to Kenya, Aisa Kaciyra; Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat; Isaac Musa, Coordinator, Mathare Environmental One Stop Centre, and others.




International Youth Day | Youth Building Peace

“On the cusp of International Youth Day and its theme of “Youth Building Peace” this year, UN-Habitat calls for all youth to spread the message of peace,.”

At the beginning of 2012, the world population surpassed 7 billion with people under the age of 30 accounting for more than half of this number (50.5%). According to the survey, 89.7% of people under 30 lived in emerging and developing economies. In matters conflicts, youth play a significant role. Every estimate of direct conflict deaths suggests that more than 90% of all casualties occur among young adult males. Young women make up 10-30% of armed forces and armed groups worldwide. In 2008, an estimated 100,000 girls under 18 were fighting in armed conflicts globally. In 2011, around 14 million youth were forcibly displaced by conflict and disasters. Today, that number is much higher. Conversely, youth have a substantial role in peace building.

The 2017 theme of the International Youth Day couldn’t be more apt: “Youth Building Peace”.

This day, observed on August 12th is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. Further, it should include efforts made towards promoting and engaging young people in governance processes and decision making. UN-Habitat has been at the forefront in engaging youth across the globe in the peace building processes and today’s call for all youth in Kenya to spread the message of peace through out and after 2017 Kenyan elections.

Dr. Kacyira, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat, highlighted that the youth centers provide at risk youth with safe, generative space where they can develop leadership skills, ICT, entrepreneurship and vocational training as well as access to health services.  “The centers serve as a place where youth can develop soft and transferable skills to enter the labor market,’ said Dr. Kacyira, while speaking at the YouthConnekt Africa Summit 2017 held at Rwanda, July 19-21st 2017.

Residents of Mathare informal settlement – one of the biggest in Nairobi, Kenya – are one of Nairobi’s beneficiaries of the One Stop Youth Resources Ccenters in Kenya. Peter Kaka, head of Mathare One Stop Youth Centre, recently shared that the center had secured and established the new Slum Soccer football pitch. Peter mentioned Innovative Kenya, ICT center , as another measurable success by the UN-Habitat efforts in peace building  process.

Across the border in Rwanda, more than 312,000 Rwandan youth in just five years have gained training from the centers. Rwanda is a state that suffered a genocide which saw over 800,000 Rwandans killed in 100 days. The one stop centers have contributed to inclusion of youth in governance – a key contributor to the transformation of Rwanda as an ICT nation. It is important to note that Rwanda also held successful-peaceful national elections on August 4th 2017.

Kenyan youth have embraced the model and taken the same empowerment route to engage in building resilience and conflict resolution against the volatile tribal gaps in the country. “We will keep our interactive social media conversations with active online community members to sensitize on the essence of maintaining peace before and after elections”, said Peter Kaka in his closing remarks about the elections fever.

UN -Habitat will also recognized efforts by youth building peace in Colombia and awarded the Colombia Urban Youth Fund to successful organizations following prior submission of project proposals. This is a timely move as the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia insurgents are about to reach a comprehensive peace agreement after almost four years of peace negotiations in Havana.

Youth are the next leaders and problem solvers and so should be getting involved now since they are the ones that have to live with the consequences of choices that are made. Awareness needs to be raised to governments and powerful decision makers that the youth have skills and abilities that should be utilized and harvested rather than ignored. Consequently, both the youth and governments need to work together to create a positive and beneficial peaceful relationship.

UN-Habitat is committed to working with local governments to create opportunities for youth to participate in the decisions making process and play a major role maintaining peace in their cities, as these approaches create conducive environments for investment, innovation, business, employment and civic participation.

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