Youth and Urbanization | Youth innovation is the clean fuel to light up world cities

“Today, 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing, of which 1 billion live in slums and informal settlements. While millions of people lack suitable homes, the stock of vacant houses is gradually increasing. Ensuring housing affordability is therefore a complex issue of strategic importance for development, social peace and Equality. Addressing the housing needs of the poorest and most vulnerable, especially women, youth and those who live in slums must be a priority in the development agendas,” UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos,

In 1985 the United Nations through Resolution 40/202 declared every first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day, with the first celebration held in 1986. The purpose of World Habitat Day is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right to adequate shelter of all. It is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns. In December 2013, the United Nations through Resolution A/RES/68/239 designated every 31 October for the celebration of the World Cities Day. World Cities Day is a legacy of the Shanghai Expo 2010 which theme was ‘Better City, Better Life’ and aims to promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization, and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world. The World Cities Day was celebrated for the first time in 2014.”

The 2017 theme of the two international days marking Urban October will be at its peak advocating for Innovative Governance, Open Cities”.

This year Urban October celebration will coincide with the first year since the adoption of the New Urban Agenda, the outcome document of the Habitat III Conference.

UN-Habitat recognizes that cities are not only places where development happens, but so are they a platform where youth meet to bring their minds together and share their vast experiences to engineer strategic solutions for that development to happen.

UN-Habitat through its Youth and Livelihoods Unit is hosting youth activities across the world to promote the concept of Urban October. One of the key projects is the implementation of a project dubbed the ‘Innovate Counties Challenge’. The project seeks to build youth inclusion in local governance in small and medium sized cities around the use of ICT as a tool for good governance, planning and youth entrepreneurship, ultimately institutionalizing innovative solutions to enhance citizen engagement in line with UN-Habitat’s priorities according to the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Youth drive innovation at the local level, and can if given the proper support; develop solutions for our most pressing urban issues such as transportation, housing, climate change and inequality,” UN-Habitat, Youth and Livelihoods Unit Chief, Douglas Ragan

The Innovate Counties Challenge will kick start in two cities in Kenya, Kisumu and Mombasa, which have also been considered as most affected cities by the heated political instability currently in the country. The project will entail a two day extensive and intensive entrepreneurship boot camp featuring training by business experts in technology, media, finance and more to build resilience among youth residing in the named cities as a means to create sustainable solutions toward achieving social cohesion. This project also aims to empower youth with the adequate knowledge to understand the fundamentals of good governance:

Cities can generate more wealth by utilizing youth intelligence and sufficiently attractive, available and sustainable innovative solutions from youth.

 “And here, is where I find my hope in the youth, because if one looks today in societies there is a trend for them to be closed on themselves, there is a trend for people to be more nationalistic, less and less open to the need to understand that global challenges need global responses, need multinational cooperation, need multilateral institutions,” United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres

It is therefore vital and rational for governments to invest in infrastructures and activities that will engage youth and help them find a sense of belonging in cities by putting their innovative skills to practice..

UN-Habitat encourages governments, institutions and persons in power to keep involving youths in shaping the new urban agenda as well as identify sustainable urbanization as a priority.

If youth are not included in urbanization and governance processes then they could become an obstacle to economic development as poorly designed urbanization that does not cater for the needs of youth will become a significant source of poverty and inequality.

Exclusion of youth in such activities as policy making in regard to issues affecting them could lead to a stronger informal sector and higher marginalization, which, in turn, could cause a rise in social conflicts and even threaten the economic, social and environmental stability of countries

“Globalization and technological progress have tremendously increased global wealth; contributed to trade growth, prosperity in many societies and improved living conditions in many parts of the world; extreme poverty has been substantially reduced globally, but, at the same time, inequalities have also grown tremendously,” United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

Youth population and urbanization are rapidly developing at the same time causing profound ramifications on economy and local administration development. The two likewise commonly impact each different as statistic development substantially affects urban planning while the nature of urbanization determines the wellbeing of populations. Urbanization has a growing influence on development and economic trends in cities Urbanization impacts advancement and financial patterns in urban areas

“For housing to contribute to national socio-economic development and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda calls for placing housing policies at the center of national urban policies along with strategies to fight poverty, improve health and employment. As we strive to create cities for all, an urgent action for achieving affordable homes requires a global commitment to effective and inclusive housing policies,” UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos,

A large number of events all over the world are taking place as commemoration of the Urban October as well as part of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. UN-Habitat invites all those working on sustainable urban development to join the celebration.

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