Category Archives: Opportunities

#HackForMombasa

Courtesy of Rhoda Omenya, UN-Habitat

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Hacking. A word more often than not, heavy with negative connotations – specifically with reference to digital technologies. Today, mainstream use of hacking still refers criminal activities but has also given rise to a positive meaning – use of technical computer expertise to solve problems. Extrapolated to the term hackathon – an intense 24 or 48 hour event that provides a venue for self-expression and creativity through technology where people with technical backgrounds come together, form teams around a problem or idea, and collaboratively code a unique solution from scratch — these generally take shape in the form of websites, mobile apps, and robots.

UN-Habitat, Youth and Livelihoods Unit in collaboration with SwahiliBox, held a hackathon on May 20th – 21st, in Mombasa County to solve urban challenges that the county is facing. This hackathon is part of a project dubbed Innovate Counties Challenge Project that seeks to include local government partnerships in enabling governance technology applications developed by youth, have tangible impact at the community level. These challenges were identified in a challenge workshop previously held with participation and contribution from a cross cutting representation of pertinent persons from academia, civil society, youth groups, private sector, media and the core partners of the project, the county representatives particularly in the Youth and ICT departments.

The hackathon had participation from students as a result of outreach sessions done at Technical University of Kenya, Mount Kenya University, Kenyatta University and Kenya Methodist University. From the sign-up sheet, 71% were participating in their first hackathon, an indication of both the novelty of the hackathon and the challenges that would be faced therein. As such having the participants take part in a continuous 48 hour hackathon would be strenuous and thus was split in two full days.  Web4All, an ICT Enterprise founded with the sole aim of utilizing ICT to Improve the Livelihood of People in Africa, facilitated the hackathon.

In the first day of the hackathon, participants were grouped into the challenges they wanted to solve and taken through ideation and theme matching, meeting user needs and problem solving and low fidelity prototypes and placeholder sites under rotational mentorship. This enabled them to immerse themselves into the problems they were trying to solve by understanding the main person faced with the challenge – in line with human centered design’s core principle of empathy. Ultimately aiding the teams to narrow their thinking to one solution – what they were envisioning, for whom and how the solution would ameliorate the user(s) life. Day 1 concluded with hacking of their solutions.

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Figure 1 Participants at the end of Day 1

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Figure 2 Working through the Idea Canvas

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Figure 3 John Paul from Web4All taking participants through the Business Model Canvas

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Figure 4 Taking a break to fuel the body

Day 2 of the hackathon had the participants hacking and finalizing their solutions, as the mentors took them through deck preparation and pitching for the presentation.

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Figure 5 Mock pitching to mentors

The hackathon had four judges:

  1. Nyevu Karisa – County Government of Mombasa Officer, Department of Trade, Energy and Industrial Development
  2. David Ogiga – Director, Sote Hub
  3. Adam Chagani – Consultant, UNODC
  4. Sharmaarke Abdullahi – Project Management Officer, UN-Habitat

The air was stiff as teams began presenting their seven minute terse pitches, with a three minute follow up Q&A from the judges. There were thirteen teams exhibiting solutions on varied governance problems from service delivery (waste, transport and water management), tourism promotion, urban farming, county government transparency, to the often forgotten social and intangible human facets of drug abuse, etc. The judges evaluated the presentations based on the tangibility of the solution (thus showing the team’s grasp of the problem being solved), the solution’s feasibility on a technical level, its creativity and originality. Further, the teams had to show that the solution is socially acceptable, economically viable and environmentally sustainable. The teams were additionally judged on their cohesiveness and presentation skills.

The judges then went into weighty deliberations, finally agreeing on the top three teams:

  • Winners: Mji Safi with their innovative solution of preventing food produce at markets turning into organic waste. This would be done using an inventory control system, working with a market management authority and vendors.

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Figure 6 Winners: Mji Safi

  • First Runners Up: Azucorp with a hardware solution of delivering urgent medical supplies using drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) thereby reimagining transport modes. This solution comes an opportune time as the Government of Kenya has recently approved the use of commercial drones.

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Figure 7 First Runners Up Azucorp

  • 2nd Runners Up: Veve with an interactive web portal for both locals and tourists to restore Mombasa as a tourist destination and thereby reversing the drop in Foreign Direct Investment and specifically the five year drop in tourism earnings.

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Figure 8 2nd Runners Up – Veve

Special mention is given to Aqua Harvesters who came in sixth with their novel solution of a solar desalination and pump system that sanitizes and distributes water by exploiting road traffic movement to push water without fuel – consequently tackling water scarcity and quality.

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Figure 9 Judges

Looking ahead, the top six teams will be taken through a fundamental training on the startups and entrepreneurship to give them the starting block to techpreneurship whereas the winners, Mji Safi will continue on with the incubation to develop their solution for piloting and provide them with the necessary skills to develop a business model for scale.

The two days captured the vision, creativity, resourcefulness, and imagination of youth despite the newness of a hackathon in Mombasa County. Emboldening them should be a never ending exploit.

 

Call for applications Global Urban Peace Labs: Colombia Urban Youth Fund project

Paz for Colombia

DEADLINE for submissions: 6th July 2017
DURATION: from July to December 2017

Are you a youth-led organization in Colombia or a Servicio Nacional De Aprendizaje (SENA) apprentice or alumni? Does your organization have an innovative youth leadership model or idea on promoting peace and resilience in cities in Colombia? Is your youth-led organization non-political and non-religious? Does your project aim to promote peace through, but not limited to;

  1. Improving the livelihood of the community and target groups?
  2. Creating jobs or promoting entrepreneurship towards peace and resilience?
  3. Providing ICT driven solutions towards peace building and resilience?
  4. Building peace and resilience through research and training?
  5. Sports and development or creating safe spaces for dialogue towards peace building and resilience?
  6. Building peace and resilience through Art and Culture?
  7. Encouraging/involving youth in governance and governance structures?

Does your project have a keen focus on reintegrating Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members or integrating vulnerable communities and target groups including young women and men in difficult conditions?

Then, Servicio Nacional De Aprendizaje (SENA) and United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) have a great platform for you!

SENA and UN-Habitat are excited to launch the call for applications for the Global Urban Peace Labs programme. This is a grant program that will make an enormous contribution to the peace building process and will provide a platform for young people to develop their potential to serve as catalysts, implementer’s and partners in building a peaceful, more productive and resilient Colombia. This will be achieved not only through the demobilization of former youth combatants part of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia but also providing opportunities to SENA apprentices and the victims of the armed conflict to provide models towards contributing to peace and resilience in Colombia.

We are happy to hear from you!

Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page which will guide you through the application requirements.

For SENA apprentices and alumni please submit your ideas and models through: https://goo.gl/forms/rAgFCDVi2CbTTIIx1 before or on 6th July 2017 to be eligible for a grant.

For non-SENA apprentices and alumni please submit your ideas and models through: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfX0QKqoKfKc-G45_dF-zksCZFsF62AGI1jmzT__S9Xc0wWVA/viewform?usp=sf_link  before or on 6th July 2017 to be eligible for a grant.

Please remember to attach the necessary documents to the indicated email addresses including the budget

News Letter Brief; Strengthening Policy for Young Women in the Changing World of Work, Case Study: Kampala Municipality, Uganda

Courtesy of Judith Mulwa, UN-Habitat

StWOW Publication Capturerengthening Policy for Young Women in the Changing World of Work, Case Study: Kampala Municipality, Uganda, is a research publication sponsored by UK-AID to Plan International UK. UN-Habitat played a key advisory role on policy at municipal level, to the innovation hub, which aimed to challenge social norms and practices that keep girls and young women in positions of powerlessness in the World of Work (WoW). This resonates to the Commission on the Status of Women 61, 2017: Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work. The research aims to elaborate the need for an enabling policy environment and/or enforce legislation that enhances gender equality for girls and young women in the WoW.

The publication appreciates that local governments are the key vehicles for formulating interventions, and a key partner in the implementation of a Local Economic Development (LED) strategy. In this regard, the local government is discussed to work hand in hand with other stakeholders in contextualizing gender gaps and addressing gender imbalances. This is relevant in addressing social and cultural practices that keep young women in positions of powerlessness in the WoW.

As a result, the publication contextualizes the position of the Republic of Uganda, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), on gender integration, mainstreaming and implementation, while also proposing interventions to progress the proposed recommendations and achieve the goals of inclusion and equality for women in the WoW. This was achieved through a Desk Study, a gender lensed policy analysis and a Key Informant Discussion (KID) to the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

The methodology provided the background to existing policy as well as recommendations towards improving women’s economic, social, and political status. These recommendations include working with a variety of stakeholders to help strengthen partnerships, involving the private sector in gender mainstreaming and awareness raising, advocacy and lobbying, entrepreneurship training, and bridging the gaps between legislation and communities at the KCCA. This resonates with the gender-responsive nature of the recently adopted New Urban Agenda (NUA), which has been adopted to guide urban centers. In addition, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015, in particular Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and Goal 11, to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

To download the publication, click

https://unhabitat.org/books/strengthening-policy-for-young-women-in-the-changing-world-of-work-2/

#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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UN-Habitat Training: Nigerian Youth Going Green

Courtesy of Akolade Aderibigbe, UN-Habitat

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, conducted hands-on training in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies; green entrepreneurship and enterprise development for 125 selected youths drawn from 26 States across the Nigeria in Abuja from 12th  to 23rd December 2016.

The hands-on training on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies; green entrepreneurship and enterprise development training programme was organized by the Regional Office for Africa; Youth Unit and the Energy Unit of UN-Habitat in collaboration with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the Nigeria President on Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGS). The training which was held in Abuja from 11th – 23rd December 2016   was targeted at Nigerian unemployed youths. First batch of 125 (One Hundred and Twenty-Five) youth participants were selected from across the 26 States of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to benefit from the programme. The training aimed at empowering the trained youths to start income generating enterprises in the renewable energy sector; become active proponents of energy efficiency and renewable energy approaches with a clear understanding of the issues/application around climate change; act as positive agents in their communities and bring about behavioral change among their peers and across their communities.

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Her Excellency SSAP-SDGS Adejoke Orelope Adefulire and other dignitaries during the Hands-on Training on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technologies Closing Ceremony.

The Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung in his opening remarks thanked the SSAP and UN Habitat for organizing the training programme. The Minister stated that the importance of the energy industry in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. He also stated that the present administration is committed towards the development and empowerment of Nigerian youths. He assured the youth that the Federal Government of Nigeria would

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Youth Participants working on Household Solar Panels.continue to take the interest of young people into consideration in the formulation and implementation of its policies and programmes. He advised the youth not to give room for dis-unity among them or allow themselves to be manipulated or used as criminal elements by politicians. He also charged them to work hard to succeed and use the opportunity of the training to establish themselves and build solid relationships with one another. The Minister informed that the government is in the process of putting in place a trust fund for youths to address issues of funding. The Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Adejoke Adefulire, said the programme was developed by the Presidency in partnership with the UN-Habitat to empower youths through the provision of training in energy efficiency and renewable technologies. She said, “The main objective of this programme is to involve Nigerian youths in the green economy project, contributing to climate change mitigation, because majority of our youths do not have stable economic opportunities, as they are unemployed, discouraged or vulnerably employed.

Adefulire observed that the training was not to replace the university or college degrees of

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Improved Cook Stoves by Youth Participants during the Hands-on Training on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technologies.

the trainees but would enhance their capacities. “By your decision to be part of this exercise, you will move away from poverty, crime, drug abuse, militancy and terrorism to a sustainable platform, as this programme will address goal 1 of the SDG, which is no poverty, goal 7 on renewable energy, and goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities,” she said.

The Habitat Programme Manager for Nigeria, Mr. Kabir Yari who represented the Director for Regional Office for Africa, said subsequent training would capture a greater number of trainees, adding that the exercise would go a long way in reducing unemployment in Nigeria.

He said, “Our collaboration with Nigeria on this project is to provide technical inputs in terms of facilitators, technical personnel and other related things that will ensure a successful training. As you know, the SDGs is a 2030 agenda which intends to improve the lives of all citizens and leaving no one behind.” Tapping into its new thinking on producing items that can be locally sourced for the consumption of Nigeria’s population, the federal government is to partner with the United Nation Habitat to train some Nigerian youths on clean energy for home use. The partnership for empowerment captures capacity building in energy technologies for production of clean stoves and lantern that will serve the energy needs of rural poor and other areas where renewable energy will complement power needs.

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Gasifier Stove Hands-on Training on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technologies.

Explaining the rationale for the partnership for the training, Vincent Kitio, Chief Urban Energy Unit, says the youth are being trained in a blend of entrepreneurship and technologies to developed skill sets in production of renewable energy as alternatives to replace kerosene stoves and lantern which has proven dangerous in some cases.

At the end of the course, participants were able to;

  • Build solar lanterns
  • Set up briquette production to substitute charcoal and firewood
  • Build improved cook stoves
  • Assemble and install gasifier stoves
  • Built and Assemble Household Solar Panels.

The City Is Ours!

Who owns the city? This question was a subject of passionate debates at the Habitat III conference in Quito. The answer was straightforward: it belongs to its citizens. In this context, the design of public spaces is one of the biggest challenges. This has not always worked well. The Habitat III conference and the New Urban Agenda create opportunities for cities’ authorities and civil societies to learn with and from each other.

An opinion by Jonas Freist-Held from Habitat III, Quito October 2016

In Berlin, you do not have to search long to find best and worst practices how to design public space. On the one hand, the “Gleisdreieckpark” – a newly designed park in the heart of Berlin – with its inclusive and sustainable design sets new standards. Or the “Tempelhofer Feld”, the massive area of the former city airport that has become the city’s biggest recreational space, stands exemplary for effective citizen participation. On the other hand, you can find the “Alexanderplatz”, a grey and busy concrete desert in the heart of Berlin that becomes more terrible with every new building constructed.14859603_10211112837115690_1381135185_o

During the Habitat III conference on sustainable urban development in Quito, the Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, rightly stressed the role model his city can be to other cities around the world. Nevertheless, he did good to state that Berlin can – and must – as well learn and benefit from best-practices and experiences of other cities from all around the world.

The City as Public Good

The discussion about public spaces is closely linked to a movement that has become stronger and more influential within the last years: The Right to the City. Who owns the city? Are cities public good? – Questions passionately debated in Quito. For Sergio Roldán Gutiérrez the answer is easy. He is the President of the Urban Planning group of the Colombian city Medellín.

“Before we design a city we have to empower its citizens. A city cannot be shaped without the active participation of its people.” Just a decade ago his city was a stronghold of Colombian drug traffic, a crime haven. With targeted and intelligent policies, today, the town 14881244_10211112836835683_415405407_owith more than four million inhabitants has become a role model for innovative and sustainable urban development. Creative mobility solutions such as cable cars have connected districts suffering from poverty and crime to the city center. After that education centers were built and public spaces created. “If we fail to actively involve citizens, they might not experience the city as they should and ultimately even destroy what we created. The citizens have priority! Then comes the city. That’s our main objective, that’s our mission.”, the urban planner is convinced. The success proves him right.

Fight Against Urban Exclusion

But what if cities are not blessed with such foresighted decision-makers? Worldwide, and especially in Latin America, gated communities are growing. People are segregated by social status; public places are declared as exclusive. Increasingly, poor people are driven out to the cities’ outskirts. Hence, empathy for the lives of others decreases, social and economic inequalities increase. This is a frightening development. Public spaces are meeting places for people from all social classes, from any background and of any age. They are key to sustainable development in a vivid urban environment.14859410_10211112837155691_669084167_o

In Quito, it was the youth repeatedly stressing the importance of public spaces. It was one of their central causes at Habitat III, a conference that was dominated by the positive vibes and creative ideas of young people from all around the world. In discussions, such as during a spontaneous pop-up meeting organized by the Youth Advisory Board of UN-HABITAT, youth from Ecuador, Peru or Chile complained about the lack of channels to engage in their city’s development – an element Roldán Gutiérrez considers crucial in making a city work for its people.

Taking control!

That such channels are still missing in many places around the world does not leave young people silent or inactive. Habitat III has shown how initiatives and projects have been created at grassroots levels. Often, small-scale ideas and movements that incorporate sustainable and innovative solutions have the potential to create bigger change in the long run. And nothing is more sustainable than a strong and growing youth movement.

Examples of creative and innovative urban solutions are as diverse as cities around the world themselves. In Barcelona (Spain), streets are reorganized to create new public spaces and decrease traffic; the Colombian capital Bogotá supports street art and graffiti allowing citizens to design their city, One-Stop Youth Centers in Mogadishu (Somalia) create safe spaces with education services for young people, in Freiburg (Germany) the Vauban, a entirely green and sustainable city district was created from scratch and in Montreal (Canada) the city has introduced special measures to improve the safety of girls and women in public transportation. The list of projects and initiatives could be continued endlessly.

Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda provide a global framework to exchange these best-practice examples and to create new ideas and share them in an international network of cities. The years to come will show if the agenda will be successful. But one thing in Quito has become clear: young people are willing and capable of acting to design inclusive cities. Their creative potential is immense.

This article was first published in German at: http://menschliche-entwicklung-staerken.dgvn.de/meldung/die-stadt-gehoert-uns/

Cities Of The Future: Why We Need Young People To Help Transform Their Communities

Siamak Sam Loni UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network
Reposted from Huffington Post 10/20/2016 04:05 am ET | Updated Oct 24, 2016

Cities are getting bigger, younger and more complicated than ever before. Some of the greatest development challenges of the 21st century are being created in cities. To solve these problems, we need to empower youth to work together with local authorities in planning, building and maintaining cities that are sustainable, inclusive and resilient.

JONATHAN WISNER

John F. Kennedy once said “we will neglect our cities to our peril, for in neglecting them we neglect the nation.” With 200,000 people moving from the countryside to cities every day, it is hard to see an end to the massive wave of urbanization that is sweeping across the globe.

Today, nearly 1 billion people around the world live in slums, many of which have been emerging overnight in rapidly urbanizing megacities. If one was to picture an urban disaster, Dhaka would probably provide a partial image of how that would look – a city so densely stuffed with vehicles that “the worst traffic jam in Mumbai or Cairo or Los Angeles is equivalent to a good day for Dhaka’s drivers” (New York Times).

For the first time in human history over half the world’s population lives in cities. This figure is expected to rise with the United Nations projecting that by 2050 more than 70 percent of the people on the planet will live in cities and towns. In 1950, New York and Tokyo were the only two cities in the world that hosted more than 10 million inhabitants. Today there are 29 of these megacities spread across the globe, with 80 percent of them located in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Urban areas, in particular megacities, are increasingly rampant with poverty, a shortage of decent housing and extreme inequality, coupled with unsustainable rates of energy and food consumption. According to a recent report by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, “over the next decades, urbanization will be a defining trend in [many] parts of the world, especially in East Asia, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, where the bulk of extreme poverty is concentrated.”

STRAITS TIMES
Massive traffic jam on Beijing’s 50-lane expressway

The majority of cities across the globe are not just getting bigger. They are also getting younger. Millennials, representing half the world’s population, are 40 percent more likely to move to cities. Young peoples’ experiences, choices and preferences already shape the image of cities, especially in the developing world.

For the most part, millennials have little say and limited influence as to how their cities are planned and organized. Much of it may be a result of how millennials are perceived in both media and popular culture. In a recent New York Times articlereading “The World Has a Problem: Too Many Young People,” Somini Segupta argues that “much has been made of the challenges of aging societies. But it’s the youth bulge that stands to put greater pressure on the global economy, sow political unrest, spur mass migration and have profound consequences for everything from marriage to Internet access to the growth of cities.”

We must reverse this narrative and resist buying into the popular illusion that portrays millennials as demanding, ungrateful and disloyal members of society. Instead of viewing young people as part of the problem, we should start to see them as part of the solution. By changing the narrative, we can empower young people to work with local authorities to plan, design and manage cities to make them free of inequality, pollution, homelessness and crime.

To confront today’s urban livability crisis – subtle tweaks and adjustments, such as a few iconic green buildings here and there, won’t make the cut. For metropolises like Dhaka, solutions that radically reimagine the way the city is planned, designed and managed are not an option but a necessity. Cities can no longer afford to address the symptoms, they must focus on finding solutions that root out the causes. Instead of allocating more space for cars to accommodate the traffic, cities like San Francisco are removing parking slots in the downtown to discourage use of cars altogether while creating greater incentives for public transportation and ride-sharing platforms such as Uber and Getaround; a radical solution that will allow the city to clean up the air, re-purpose public space for bike lanes and parks, and encourage healthier lifestyles.

The need for genuine change is clear. Being a source of idealism and optimism, young people have embraced change for generations. That’s why the ideas of Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, which many have thought were so alien to Western political tradition, caught on with an unprecedented number of millennials. Being a source of unconventional thinking and new ideas, young people are best positioned for the task of coming up with solutions that have never been thought of before.

EVAN VUCCI
Associated Press

We have a new generation of young people that is tech savvy, generous, entrepreneurial and committed to social justice and community service. Through imagination, creativity, ambition, and energy, this new generation is shattering the old paradigms in three ways.

First, millennials today are leading entrepreneurship charts across the globe, opening more businesses and creating thousands of jobs. A BNP Paribas reportrecently found that “millennial entrepreneurs have launched twice as many businesses as boomers.”

Secondly, young peoples’ remarkable commitment to fairness and social justice, exemplified by volunteering and donating to charitable causes, makes them a valuable partner in tackling challenges faced by their communities, from inequalities that plague urban dwellings around the world to climate change that disproportionately impacts the urban poor. According to the Millennial Impact Report, 84 percent of young people “made a charitable donation in 2014, and 70 percent spent at least an hour volunteering.”

Finally, the skills and mindset of the new generation is giving rise to human-centred technologies and transformative solutions that are making cities smarter, more integrated and global. A recent survey by AIESEC concluded that youth are mostly seeking jobs that are “challenging, global and meaningful.” With millennials projected to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2030, these views could drive young people to pursue careers in companies that design products aimed at solving social and environmental challenges.

DIGITALIST MAGAZINE

This week, Ecuador is hosting the 3rd United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, known as Habitat III, bringing together UN officials, mayors, urban experts, civil society and youth, to adopt the New Urban Agenda (NUA) – a global strategy for making cities “just, safe, healthy, accessible, affordable, resilient, and sustainable” over the next 20 years. NUA is more than just a once-in-20-years opportunity to provide half of humanity with a decent place to live. Urban areas already generate over 70 percent of the World’s GDP, consume 60 percent of world’s energy and cause three quarters of carbon emissions, making achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) inconceivable without a transformative plan for cities.

The conference symbolically began with the Children’s and Youth Assembly to pay tribute to the role young people play in realizing the vision of the New Urban Agenda. The official draft document mentions the word “inclusive” 36 times but regardless of how many times the text emphasizes the important intention to build inclusive cities, what matters is whether it will make a real difference for inhabitants of cities.

To create communities that offer hope instead of desperation, cities must promote a sense of belonging and cross-generational collaboration every step of the way, and most importantly, treat young people as equal and capable partners. If local authorities harness the qualities of youth and work closely with them to plan, design and manage cities, we could see more liveable communities and thereby, a more liveable world.

HABITAT III

This article was co-authored by Siamak Sam Loni (@siamak_sam) and Anastasiya Kostomarova (@AnastasiaEugene).

Anastasiya is a Research & Policy Officer at the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Youth and the Co-Manager of the Local Pathways Fellowship, which empowers young people to champion local pathways for sustainable development.

Celebrate World #CitiesDay!! UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda show how investing in cities advances progress across societies.” – UNSG

The world is celebrating cities — join in!! Following the highly successful Habitat III conference , the world is now focused on how cities can be #Cities4All and a positive force sustainable development and the achievement of both the 2030 Agenda and the NUA.

Please watch UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s World #CitiesDay message.

If you want to get involved please follow us our on Facebook a UN-Habitat Youth, or twitter at @unhabitatyouth, and the #UrbanAction campaign.

Ambulant Tactical Urban Planning Labs: Making city

Within the frame of the Habitat III Conference, which is scheduled for this week in Quito, it is important to mention all the activities, ideas and alternative proposals that are emerging in the city. Ambulant Tactical Urban Planning Labs (LIUTS – in Spanish), is a workshop put forward by two neighbourhoods in Quito, Santa Clara and Pisulí, over three days in August this year. Organized under the umbrella of the YoutHab Conference, which represents a platform for youth to exchange ideas and discuss their rights in relation to the city. These workshops are an example of the positive initiatives being brought forward by young Ecuadorians.

The workshops were designed as an urban experiment, which sought to involve different actors in the city, such as public institutions, the community and architecture students. Two locations were selected: Santa Clara neighbourhood, which represents an emblematic area of Quito and which faces the principles problems of a lack of urban furniture; poor urban aesthetics; and few pedestrian friendly spaces. In parallel, another location with different characteristics was selected: Pisulí neighbourhood. Here, insecurity, lack of public space and minimal support from public bodies, has generated strong social cohesion among inhabitants, who manage all changes in public spaces within the neighbourhood. To universities are involved in the urban experiment: the Central University of Ecuador -the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism-; and the University of the Americas -the Faculty of Architecture and Design- with the objective that students propose urban strategies at the neighbourhood scale. Some 120 proposals were presented for the two neighbourhoods, of which 57 proposals were selected, the students socialised and verified the viability of the projects.

During weeks prior to workshops, the students and professors conducted socialization and modifications to proposals based participatory processes with the community and the available materials. For example, in the case of Pisulí, the “Café de Barrio”, which aimed to encourage and share with residents the community participation within urban processes and sustainable mobility. In addition, during this period other entities were involved such as TECHO ECUADOR supported by volunteers for the workshop days in Pisulí.

During workshop proposals were developed. In the case of Pisulí, with the community improvements to the main street to public spaces and urban furniture with car tires collected by residents, were agreed. In the case of Santa Clara, students from the Central University represent the majority of the community that live in the neighbourhood. They made changes in urban aesthetics: messages against pedestrian harassment and the installation of urban furniture in the central square. During the workshops delegates from the United Nations attended the implementation of the proposals.

The workshops included the first urban experiment of this type by the organizers. Its main objective sought to generate the appropriation of public space by the community. To understand that we live in a community in our city and that small interventions can be the first step to great changes, has already been realised by participants. In addition, for students, this represented an opportunity to leave the academic framework and interact with the users of urban spaces, with a minimum budget and manage their projects, this represented their first professional experience. Beyond all acquired knowledge, the reality of sharing thoughts with people from different social strata, opens our consciousness to understand our duty to interaction in the city; which at the same time, can go hand in hand with the helping communities lacking essential urban infrastructure.

María Amanda Padilla R.

Instagram: amandamaria82

Twitter: @YoutHABconf

After the quake

Written By: Ying Gao

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In the week of 24 April 2016, Nepal marked an important moment.  It was the first anniversary of the great earthquake.[1]  To turn the page with forward-looking consultations, UN-Habitat hosted two urban youth discussions on the critical questions of “equity and youth development” in Kathmandu.  A wide range of youth groups supported UN-Habitat to put together the two workshops.  The result was an electrifying energy and focused output from youth participants that impressed the attending UN agencies, development partners and Nepal government representatives.  UN-Habitat will publish the results as part of the Global State of Urban Youth Report 2015/16 later this year.

Young people were at the frontlines of relief work in the wake of the quake in 2015.  They applied volunteerism and skills to do many post-disaster tasks, like distributing aid materials, building temporary shelters, and creating open-source maps of the affected areas.  The images and videos of such youth volunteers flooded local and global media reports on Nepal Earthquake.  In other words, the youth proved that they were resilient in post-disaster Nepal.

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A year on, however, the story of Nepal Earthquake is more complex.  The needs have shifted from recovery to reconstruction and development.  Where are the same Nepali youths now?  How do they feel about their own role in the reconstruction process as well as the country’s long-term development?  And what about the state of equity among young women and men in Nepal’s rapidly urbanizing society?  These were the questions asked in the Kathmandu events this week.

The week kicked off with over 50 young Kathmandu citizens debating youth’s role in Nepal Earthquake reconstruction at a special session hosted by UN-Habitat, during the 2nd Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance (APPDSA) South Asia meeting, a joint initiative by Global Peace Foundation and UN ESCAP, 23-24 April 2016.  Local youths aged 18-24 expressed frank opinions about the ongoing reconstruction process, and the related employment and social issues.  Among other issues, participants argued that reconstruction needed to provide more jobs and skills development for local youths.  If actively engaged, Kathmandu’s young population had much to offer.  “We the youth are opportunity creators, not [opportunity] seekers,” one youth presenter concluded.

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Next up, over 100 youths selected from diverse backgrounds joined UN-Habitat Global State of Urban Youth Report 2015/16 – Kathmandu focus group discussion workshop on 29 April 2016.  Mr. Padma Joshi, UN-Habitat Nepal Country Programme Manager, opened the floor with welcome speech highlighting that youth represented 40% of Nepal’s people.  Mr. Joshi also pointed out the complex effects of the historic disaster and reconstruction on the country’s increasingly urbanizing youth population, such as knock-on effect of displacement or fresh rural-urban migration in search of work.  Mr. Brabm Kumar K.C., President of Association of Youth Organizations Nepal (AYON), asked the youths to think about bridging the planning and implementation gap.

During the day, groups of youths debated the root causes of what may be preventing Nepal youths’ full, effective and equitable participation in the country’s development in the following five areas: 1) youth and employment, 2) youth and sports and environment, 3) youth and education, 4) youth and politics of reconstruction, 5) youth and gender equity and social inclusion.  Defying occasional power outage of the building, the heated discussions continued well into the afternoon.

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The closing remarks brought attention to the opportunity provided by the SDG’s for the youth.  Representing UN Youth Advisory Panel, Ms. Neiru Karky stated, “We need to own the concept of sustainable development goals,” recommending to look at urbanization as part of innovation where youths can make greater contributions to the society.  Mr. Sudarshan Kunwar, AIESEC Nepal President, expressed an open invitation to participating youths saying “you can align your products, your services in terms of SDG’s” for more impact.

During the week, UN-Habitat also presented the recently published Switched On: Youth at the Heart of Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific to Nepal Ministry of Youth and Sports.

[1] 24 April 2016 was the anniversary date in Nepali calendar.  Internationally, 25 April 2016 is the day.