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Is Urban Farming Impossible?

By Achmad Solikhin

The adoption of the Urban New Agenda remains challenging for urban think tanks, most notably agriculturists who strive to resolve a dilemma between urban population expansion and agricultural land use. For instance, in Bandung, Indonesia, the increase in urban population growth needs two hundred hectares of agricultural lands to be converted into human settlements, industries, and other public properties. The increase also exacerbate the ecological burdens, such as pollution, water crisis, fossil fuel energy issues, and climate change.

Besides Bandung, the lack of agricultural landscape for farming that would feed the urban inhabitants has been an emerging issue throughout Indonesian cities. This is not in line with the Indonesia Government Regulation No. 19, 2016, which demands sustainable farming land for food. In addition, it is contradictory to paragraph 95 of the New Urban Agenda, that clearly supports urban agriculture and farming. Furthermore, if interlinked with nexus approach and Indonesian commitment for green house gas emission reduction and food security, 41% GHG reduction will be very tricky to be implemented in urban area over rural area.

With all these challenges, urban farming seems impossible on a scale. On the other hand, with new technologies and willingness to make a change, it can be done. As a possible solution, urban farming has been introduced to the urban sites, using various innovative techniques such as vertical gardens, aquaculture, small agriculture and rooftop agriculture,to name few. These techniques are demonstrated in the following projects, which are potent for tackling alarming urban farming burden, such as: Food Field, Farm, Sky Green, The Distributed Urban Farming Initiative, and Sharing Backyard. Inspired by these great initiatives as a potential urban landscape solution, a project called : “Carbon Farming Schools” initiated by the Indonesian Green Action Forum emerged.

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The Carbon Farming Schools are suported by UNEP Eco-Peace Leadership Center, Yuhan Kimberly, YUNGA UNFAO, UNESCO, and Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition. The project focuses on both food source and education. I tis run in Bogor, approximately 2 hour drive from Jakarta. Two elementary schools are engaged and supported young agriculturists of Bogor Agricultural University. Around 500 students have been actively involved.

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There is a wide participation also from other segments of society including other youth and local farmers. In the schools, the students are educated about climate change, urban farming, and ecological issues to find solutions and suggest innitiatives to tackle these issues. Subsequently the innitiatives are translated into real action plans. To test-run and implement them, they use a small agroforest in abandoned lands and limited spaces. And how does it look in practice? For example, a small number of fast growing and multipurpose tree species are coupled with vegetable plants. A vertical farming is also alternative technique suitable for limited spaces in front of a house or backyard. The great thing about the project is that it supports the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, making it more than just a collection of words on paper.

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Celebrating Somali Youth Day: Teenage soccer player Jibril Kafi Ahmed has his eyes on the prize despite challenges facing Somalia

Our second featured interview to celebrate the Somali Youth Day is with a football enthusiast Ahmed. He too, is a member of Mogadishu One Stop Youth Center, who values the space as a place to to play, learn and grow. UN-Habitat recognizes the importance of public spaces to practice sports and interact with peers and this is why:

Sixteen-year-old Jibril Kafi Ahmed is a budding soccer player, who is already making a mark in his country Somalia, despite the instability caused by years of war.

Growing up in his neighborhood, in the capital’s Yaqshid district, Ahmed was denied the opportunity for normal upbringing, as he was confined indoors, due to insecurity caused by terror group Al-Shabaab.

Sounds of gunfire and explosions were a common feature of his childhood; while the sound of a bouncing football that he so much craved was just a mirage.

The challenges of growing up in a violent environment did not dim his desire to be a soccer player. As he grew older and as the security situation in Somalia improved, he started playing soccer.

Now a member of the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, which engages youth in sports, Ahmed finds himself in an enviable position, to advance his dreams.

The high school student, who cuts a lanky figure, says being a member of a sports team such as the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ comes with many benefits. And so does sports, which he adds, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and is a great platform for promoting peace and unity in society.

The shy youth, who would have been lured into crime, had he not joined the Centre, is a testimony that positive living produces great dividends.

“I appeal to the youth who are with Al-Shabaab or other militant groups to quit and join the government forces”, Ahmed says, in his message to youth who have joined criminal gangs such as terror group Al Shabaab.

“I plead with them to stop harming people because the country needs them. I also plead with them to stop fighting, as it does not add value to their lives”, he says.

Since joining the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, Ahmed’s his life has changed for the better.

“I look forward to playing for one of the top clubs in Europe”, he concludes during an interview.

The young man is unfazed by the instability in his country and has hopes to excel as an athlete and join the hall of fame, like Somalia born Olympian gold medalist Mo Farrah.

The ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ is an initiative led by UN-Habitat with the Banaadir Regional Administration (BRA) as part of the Youth Employment Somalia programme.

Celebrating Somali Youth Day: Youthful Najmo Sa’eed Mire’s hope for peaceful co-existence in Somalia lies in sports

To celebrate the Somali Youth Day (15th May), UN-Habitat would like to highlight interviews with two young Somalis – beneficiaries of the Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre, an initiative between the Banaadir Regional Administration (BRA) and UN-Habitat, which equips youth with vocational skills.

Najmo Sa’eed Mire strongly believes sport is the pathway to nurturing engaged youth and extols the immense power of sport in promoting peace and erasing clan differences, which continue to bedevil Somalia.

“Sports will help unite the people and once there is unity you have peace,” said Najmo, a twenty-one year old resident of Warta-nabada district in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

“Sports has a positive impact and both men and women can take part. It knows no borders,” she observed.

Najmo also noted that sports is capable of enhancing unity and discouraging youth from joining violent extremist organizations, blamed for the country’s security challenges.

Her great love for sports, illustrated in her participation in a cheering squad, during a football match at the Mogadishu One Stop Centre, explains her deep conviction in the positive attributes of sports.

With relative peace in the capital city, many youth are able to engage in various sporting activities. At the height of the biting drought, the youth have gone a step further and pulled resources to help communities affected by drought.

“As students we did our best to contribute to drought victims with the support of our teachers. In our neighborhoods, we collected money and other items for drought victims living in Garasbaley area and Yaqshid district. This was possible because sports brought us together and unified us,” Najmo explained.

While raising a white card to peace in Somalia, she appealed to the youth to take sports and education seriously and stay away from crime.

“I urge my fellow youths to reject crime and other unlawful activities and choose sports instead to help promote peace, love and unity. Together we shall succeed,” she says.

Najmo looks forward to the day when armed militia who kill and maim with reckless abandon, will dispose of their weapons and join peace-loving Somalis, in promoting peace through sports and other social activities.

“Youths do love sports. If the youth can agree on the type of sport they want to play, they can as well agree to unite and promote peace, which is good for the nation,” Najmo adds.

New feature at GC! Welcome to the SDGs Digital Media Zone!

For the first time ever, we’ve brought the SDGs Digital Media Zone to the UN-Habitat’s Governing Council. The SDGs Media Zone is a platform for editors, bloggers, content creators and influencers to communicate innovations, partnerships and discussions as a call to action for humanity to engage the Sustainable Development Goals. Inspired by the original model developed by the Pvblic Foundation, and heavily supported by their incredible team, we have adapted the plan to create a space to talk about everything important, highlight the best practices from the field and discuss the role of young people in the New Urban Agenda and other global processes. All of these have been captured on short videos and posted across our social media, powered by #GC26, #Cities4All and #SDGLive.

The team of dedicated volunteers enthusiastically interviewed our special guests, ranging from government officials, ambassadors, civil society representatives, partners and of course, youth. Everyone had something interesting to say or share and we can only encourage you to watch the full videos of the interviews as there are some interesting stories right there! Find out how Colombia is planning to include young people in the peacebuilding process or how a small NGO is fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria. You will not regret!

Links to the videos:

http://fb.me/26e8iIKNu  (Norwegian Youth Delegate, Aleksander Gjøsæter)

http://fb.me/8pnVDPvb4  (Colombian Ambassador to Kenya, her Excellency Ms. Elizabeth Taylor)

http://fb.me/1Ozv7cQW0 (Secretary General of the Moroccan Ministry of Housing and Urban Spaces, Ms. Fatna Chihab)

http://fb.me/3mxqMP0rf (SENA-Colombia representative, Ms. Luisa Fernanda Gallo)

http://fb.me/6AFHqQSHZ  (AIESEC Representative, Ms. Tanya – Part 1)

http://fb.me/1aiq9FKLI  (AIESEC Representative, Ms. Tanya- Part 2)

http://fb.me/4ltFnLy0a (North East Youth Coalition organization (Nigeria) representative, Mr. Ballisum Luka)

http://fb.me/62p1B0gzy (Mr. Alfred Otieno from Police is My Brother Initiative organization).

http://fb.me/1ma2GOdAU (Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre, Life Skills trainer, Mr. Abdikadir Dubow Mohamed)

http://fb.me/yAsz4udh (UN-Habitat Somalia Programme, National Programme Officer, Mr. Liban Mallin)

http://fb.me/11xD73Fqi (National Environment Management Authoritative in Kenya, Mr. Kimani Muruku)

https://www.facebook.com/youthfund/

 

 

 

#Urban Action Game On!

The countdown is on! Since the adoption of the New Urban Agenda in Quito in October 2016, we’ve been working with our partners, AIESEC International, to develop a global campaign and a game to spark the real action of young people in their cities that will contribute towards achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda.

To celebrate that young people were recognized as key stakeholders in the drafting process of the New Urban Agenda as well as in its implementation, we want to put them in the front line of action to turn NUA from paper to reality. The power of 1.8 billion is not just in its volume! Young people’s potential, capacity, passion and drive are the reasons we believe they can be the first ones to act! Unlike governments, they have the freedom and flexibility to start working immediately and we want to ensure that every young person out there feels the same way.

At the occasion of UN-Habitat’s 26th Governing Council, Ms. Tanya Landysheva from AIESEC International paid us a visit in Nairobi to help us launch this exciting game.

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#Urban Action is part of a larger campaign to engage youth on the Road to 2030, Youth 4 Global Goals. To make it all more fun and engaging, we’ve created a game around the process and results. The game revolves around all SDGs and their relation to SDG 11. The main mission is to create better cities while fighting typical urban challenges along the way. 16 challenges posted weekly shall contribute to creating nicer, safer, more resilient, and more sustainable cities, thus not only hitting SDG 11. targets but also significantly contributing to implementing the New Urban Agenda.

While we’re still fixing some last details, stay tuned and keep checking the youth4globalgoals.org/urbanaction website so you don’t miss the start! Game on!

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Football Pitch Make-over through Design Thinking

A lot was happening in Mlango Kubwa’s football pitch last week. Mlango Kubwa is a ward in the Mathare informal settlement in Kenya. Mathare has approximately 500,000 residence; Mango Kubwa itself has approximately 50,000 residents of which 70% of the population is 24 and under.

After its inauguration by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, it became the centerpiece of Design Thinking workshop organized to give it a sustainable make-over.

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The football pitch is the cornerstone of the community, strategically placed and accessible for all Mlango Kubwa’s residents. Used primary for football, sport and play, at times it’s also a place for talent shows, celebrations and other community events. But time, weather conditions and lack of resources have left a toll on its appearance and condition. What was once an astonishing sport facility in the midst of a slum is now rapidly deteriorating public space.

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To try to help out and bring new ideas and perspectives on the issue, UN-HABITAT teamed up with GIZ Sport for Development Africa programme and Prof. Dr. Falk Uebernickel from University of St. Gallen, an expert in Design Thinking methodology, to run a 2-day workshop with the community. Ran as a pilot in a difficult context of poor urban community, the hope and expectation was to come up with new strategies to revitalize and sustainably maintain the field.

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Despite slow start, the community members attending the workshop came up with some amazing ideas of how to improve the current state of the pitch.  Through rather complex and at times quite challenging steps of the Design Thinking methodology, the community looked at the most pressing issues, including safety and security, drainage, waste management and communication. Here are just few examples of simple interventions that were born that day:

  • Adequate fence around the pitch perimeter, with some kind of roofing to protect from rains
  • Paid caretaker(s)
  • Build-in drainage
  • Regular clean-ups, with competitions between school
  • WhatsApp group to inform the community of events and happenings at/around the pitch

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Funding remains a challenge and will determine the successful implementation of all the ideas that the community envisioned for the football pitch but everyone remains hopeful that over time, they will achieve everything what they set themselves for. UN-HABITAT will continue to support the Mlango Kubwa community and hope that together we can make it happen.

Global Survey of Youth-led Peacebuilding Organizations and Initiatives

UNOY Peacebuilders and Search for Common Ground have been working with the  Secretariat for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security to develop a global survey of youth-led peacebuilding organizations and initiatives.

The purpose is to map youth organizations and initiatives building peace and preventing violence, to identify what they are doing, what impact they have made and their needs and goals for the future.

The survey will be one of the key ways of collecting data for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, forming a direct way for young people to have their work represented in the study. It will also be used to create a publicly available database of consenting youth peacebuilding organizations and initiatives.

Does your organization fit the following?

  • Youth-led: The organization or initiative is primarily made up of, and driven by (including leadership positions) young people. Resolution 2250 defines young people as falling within the age range of 18-29 years old, while taking into account the variations of defining the youth that may exist in different contexts.
  • Working on peace and security: Implementing actions that aim to build peace, prevent violence, transform conflict and actively contribute to establish sustainable peace in their community, nation or region.

If so, please take part in the survey! https://www.youth4peace.info/survey

The survey is composed of 5 sectons which include areas of work and methods, results and impact, challenges and issues, and recommendations. it will take around around 30 min to complete the survey.

If you have any questions about the survey, please write to survey@unoy.org

 

 

It’s World Cities Day!

It’s a World Cities Day! So what are you doing to make your city a better place?

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Since 2013, the 31st October is designated to celebrate the world’s cities and draw attention to its opportunities and challenges. In fact, the whole month of October was dedicated to promote better urban future, with Habitat III – the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development as a highlight of the month. The conference brought over 30,000 delegates to the Ecuadorian Capital Quito to discuss the way forward for our cities in the next 20 years and representatives of all the member states who took it upon them to commit to deliver on the newly adopted New Urban Agenda.

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But the change and advancement of our cities is not only up to our governments. We young people have equal responsibility to contribute to making our cities more liveable, sustainable, safe and resilient. And how are we going to do it? That’s up to you! There are no “one size fits all” guidelines. The world’s cities are as diverse as our societies, with their unique structures, cultural heritage and vibrant people. They require individual approach that takes into consideration all its special features. It is up to you to be creative and design a plan of action that is doable, smart and impactful.

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Motivated? Great! Join the #UrbanAction, a global campaign to encourage young people all over the world to take action in their cities to advance SDGs and support NUA. Sign up and share your ideas, your plan of action, struggles and victories with the others! Inspire them! Motivate them! Join them! Together we can do so much more than on our own! In the spirit of the SDG 17, let’s build unbreakable partnerships between all segments of society and make our urban future better.

http://www.youth4globalgoals.org/urbanaction

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Launching #UrbanAction in Quito

In October 2016, the world leaders and representatives of the member states will gather in Quito, Ecuador to adopt the New Urban Agenda, a brand new road map to deal with all urban issues and a guide to achieving SDGs particularly in the urban context. For the first time in history, young people were recognized as stakeholders in the drafting process and are frequently referred to throughout the document. That is why UN-HABITAT wants young people to be placed in the front line of the action that will follow. Acknowledging young people’s enormous potential and capacity, UN-HABITAT works with top global youth networks to ensure that Quito marks the beginning of the youth “#UrbanAction”.

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What is #Urban Action?

#UrbanAction is a global campaign calling on young people to actively engage in positive urban development. Youth groups, organizations and individuals alike will be encouraged to design and develop #UrbanAction projects in their city that build on the commitments outlined in the New Urban Agenda, and positively contribute to achieving one (or more) of the SDGs. We aim to implement over 150 youth projects related to New Urban Agenda and SDGs within the first year of NUA adoption.

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Why Youth?

Youth represent an essential and dynamic resource. Globally, 85% of the world’s young people live in developing countries and ever-increasing number of them is growing up in cities. We have the largest youth population ever – 1.8 billion young people are below 24 years of age. This is not a small number and as such, youth should be brought on-board as partners and assets.

Youth participation and engagement is the cornerstone of the #UrbanAction, empowering them to increase their level of engagement in local governance and activate their participation in sustainable urban development activities socially, politically and economically. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. The success lies in participatory and inclusive approaches that leave no-one behind.

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While Quito will mark the launch of the #Urban Action, with first few project ideas implemented, the real work comes after Habitat III is over. Coordinated through the AIESEC international network and other partners, youth all over the world will commit and implement their #UrbanAction projects in their cities, in line with the New Urban Agenda and one (or more) of the SDGs. Join #UrbanAction today!

Connecting the dots in Sport

On Friday 16th September 2016, UN-HABITAT had a pleasure to attend the 2nd World Summit on Ethics & Leadership in Sports at FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. It was a day packed with incredible sessions, high-level speakers from the world of sport, business and politics, and most importantly, energy and positive spirit that has transcended to all participants and guests.

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Sport illustrates how various stakeholders are directly impacted by the corporate culture (strategy, team spirit), the individual performance (skills and behavior) and the wider corporate context (leadership, legal framework, CSR, media) to reach the organizations business goal (to win the game). The Summit explored these links and role of sport in tackling societal problems, while celebrating already existing best practices of sport for development initiatives and ethical sportsmanship.

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Over 50 experts shared their know-how and experiences to enrich participants’ knowledge and proposed a substantial agenda for action. One of the featured speakers was also Mr. Wilfried Lemke, the UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace. Mr. Lemke received the Ethics in Sports Awards in the category “Outstanding Individual” for his contributions in promoting the use of sports as a unifying tool for peace across the world, especially in conflict-ridden zones and war-torn countries. It is truly sad news to hear that Mr. Lemke’s term if close to finish and he will be leaving his position as the UN SG’s Special Advisor at the end of the year.

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While one day was way too short to take it all in and establish proper action plan or connections, UN-HABITAT is extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to be there and discuss with these experts possibilities of collaboration, especially in relation to New Urban Agenda and legacies of mega sport events and SDGs, particularly Goal 11. It is our hope and dream that these will soon translate into concrete action and long-term partnerships. For now, have a look at the plan….

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