Category Archives: Youth Advisory Board

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.

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

UN-Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board at GC 26!!

 

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YAB hosted by the United Nations Association of Germany in Berlin for talks with representatives of the Government of Germany, Mayor of Berlin and stakeholders. 

Mandated by the UN-Habitat Governing Council, the UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board (YAB) will be participating in the 26th Governing Council of UN-Habitat, ready to represent the voices of the global youth that elected the board in 2015.

 

To bring together all the youth joining the GC, UN-Habitat’s youth unit and the YAB are hosting youth caucuses every morning to discuss important developments at the GC and to organize that the various youth representatives speak with a coherent voice.

 

In addition, the YAB members will be involved in various events and consultations. On Monday, May 8th Margaret Koli, African representative on the YAB, will give input at a side event on “Combating poverty and promoting peace through job creation. Opportunities for young people.” On Tuesday, May 9th Jonas Freist-Held, European representative on the YAB will join a special session on housing in Europe, led by the German government and will give insights on challenges young people face in Europe.

 

The week’s highlight will be the YAB’s side event “From Rhetoric to Action: The UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board and the Berlin Declaration” with high level panelists such as UN-Habitat’s DED, YAB members, and representatives of the German GIZ, the European UN-Habitat office, UN MGCY as well as the Russian youth representative and the Norwegian delegate.

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.

UN-HABITAT Youth Advisory Board Launches Berlin Urban Agenda

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Members of the UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board in Berlin, Germany, on February 14, 2017.

On Sunday, February 19, 2017, the UN-HABITAT Youth Advisory Board (YAB) launched the Berlin Urban Agenda after a week-long consultation process with youth and various German ministries. The Berlin Urban Agenda will serve as YAB’s primary tool for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Local authorities, government agencies, UN entities, and other stakeholders are welcomed to become partners.

The document can be downloaded here:16864285_10212297368528235_704831309328719299_n

  1. Berlin Urban Agenda with accompanying hyperlinks.
  2. Berlin Urban Agenda without hyperlinks.

Youth and Cities Global Survey

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Hello readers!

Have you heard of the Global Youth-led Development Report or State of the Urban Youth Report Series?  If not, would you be interested in getting an insight into what they have to offer?

The UN-Habitat Youth and Livelihood Unit is in the process of evaluating these publications and we would like to invite you to take a moment to complete our online survey and share some of your experiences and opinions.

If you are unfamiliar with publications in either of these series, we invite you to have a look through one or more titles of your choice before completing the survey.

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  1. Global Youth-led Development Report – Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GYDRSeries

The Global Youth-led Development Report series is a collection of publications that aim to expand the global knowledge base of urban youth-led development.  Publications in this series build upon in-depth research on the activities, contexts and capacities of youth-led organizations from UN-Habitat’s Urban Youth Fund.  The series emphasizes the many ways that young people are driving positive change in their communities and further outline different ways in which local, national and international governments can move to engage and support youth-led initiatives.

Links to Publications in the Global Youth-led Development Report (GYDR) series:

GYDR #1: The Challenge and Promise of Youth-led Development

GYDR #2: State of the Field in Youth-led Development: Through the Lens of the UN-    Habitat’s  Urban Youth Fund

 GYDR #3: Experiences and Lessons from the Urban Youth Fund Grantees in Africa and Asia

GYDR #4: ICT, Urban Governance and Youth

GYDR #5: Lessons and Experiences from the Urban Youth Fund

GYDR #6: Youth-led Economic Empowerment: Lessons from the Urban Youth Fund

GYDR #7: Progress and Suitability in Youth-led Development: A Baseline and Follow Up     Study of      the UN-Habitat Urban Youth Fund

Or browse the entire GYDR series here.img-20161031-wa00002. State of the Urban Youth Report – Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SUYRSeries

The State of the Urban Youth Report series is a collection of publications that focus attention on the emerging challenges faced by young people in cities around the world.  Publications in this series look at multiple case studies of youth in different urban contexts and offer timely analysis of trends and challenges.  The publications further provide data-driven recommendations for policymakers concerned with urban youth issues.

Links to Publications in the State of the Urban Youth Report (SUYR) series:

SUYR #1: State of the Urban Youth Report 2010/2011- Leveling the Playing Field: Inequality of Youth Opportunity

SUYR #2: State of the Urban Youth, India 2012 – Employment, Livelihood, Skills

SUYR #3: Cities of Youth: Cities of Prosperity

SUYR #4: State of the Urban Youth Report 2012/2013 – Youth in the Prosperity of Cities

SUYR #5: State of the Urban Youth Report 2014/2015 – Equity Employment and Youth Development in China

Or browse the entire SUYR series here.

If you have any question please get back to us at Doug Lau doug.k.lau@gmail.com.

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.

Urbanism in Mexico: Young Ideas for the Cities of Tomorrow

Since 2016 Badi Zárate Khalili has worked for the Metropolitan Institute of Planning in Guadalajara, the second biggest city of Mexico. With only 23 years old, he is the youngest city planner in his team and responsible for the coordination of public participation and communication. In addition, Badi has represented the Latin American youth in the Youth Advisory of Board of UN-Habitat since 2015.

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Badi Zarate Khalili; Latin America UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board Representative at Habitat III, in Quito.

*Coordinating public participation and communication

*Urban Planning

It should not be a surprise that young people are getting a more active role in the design of public policies and decision making in the cities, it is just a natural step out of the enormous efforts made by previous generations. I had the pleasure of  volunteering in social action projects since I was 15 years old, which helped me understand the need of involvement of young people in making a difference and a love for service to the community started growing  in me since then and which is still my main motivation up to now. I began developing different projects as an activist for the right of the city and in 2015, I was invited to join the Metropolitan Planning team of Guadalajara.

Urban development in México has been a very firm and straight field dominated by a very exclusive group of people, mostly men. New generations have reached a new understanding of the importance of the cities and the critical time that we are facing. Yes, they have been pushing for a more inclusive agenda by promoting increased public participation in their communities. This has led to México having  innovative varieties of methodologies to bring the voice of the citizens to the urban development plans.

Although the course of youth has given enormous steps, there’s a lot left to do. The administrative system is still dominated by older men, and the inclusion that has currently been undertook, doesn’t reflect young voices and ideas in the final decision making. Young people’s ideas not only need to be listened to, but also taken and implemented with the same weight as other generation’s.

Programs that take into consideration the communities ideas and proposals have demonstrated their effectiveness on implementation. We have developed participatory planned Metropolitan development plans, major public consultations of the Planning policies, workshops on cities and growth for Children, workshops for young professionals about Metropolitan Planning and the building process of public policy, among others.

As mentioned, getting youth involved in city planning in México is an on going battle. But after proving their effectiveness and quality of work, this is slowly changing with young people being involved in the development and planning of cities.For example , majority of the people planning the future of Guadalajara, are under 30 years old.

Although the goals in the New Urban Agenda (NUA) have a long way to implementation, we are very content seeing that most of the work we do is based on the principles of the NUA; so we’ll keep on working in the same path, trying to be even more coherent by the objectives set by HABITAT III and to make our city a resilient, safe and inclusive place for all.

Key words: Inclusion, Governance, Local economy prosperity.

Courtesy of  Jonas-Freist Held.

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.

Social entrepreneurship for youth development

 

Anoka's photo

Image courtesy GE

Young people at 1.8 billion (per UN) are some of the biggest contributors of human capital in the world. We have a role to play in our own development as well as the development of our communities. This has resulted in us being increasingly recognized as key participants in decision-making and development processes.

However with an increasing rise in population, there is a rise in youth unemployment. Almost 75 million young people are unemployed worldwide (per ILO).  With education being increasingly unaffordable for most youth, especially in Asia, the ability to be employed in a sector of their preference is quite low. In such instances, social enterprise has been seen to change the status quo, offering the ability to change lives while creating revenue.

Social entrepreneurship is not a new phenomenon, but it has risen to prominence over the past decades. Ashoka’s definition of social entrepreneurship as “catalysts of system wide social change” excludes a greater part of young people below the age of 18 as a majority of youth-led initiatives are not making “system wide change.”

However, youth led social enterprises have been creating changes that have being changing systems indirectly for years. Youth social entrepreneurial ventures, young people’s ideas and energy can contribute meaningfully in community building, social change and leadership skills, while facilitating their own development.

In South Asia, Mangrove based social enterprises have created over 5000 employment opportunities while conserving the environment by advocating for alternative livelihoods of the like of eco-tourism and organic farming. In Sri Lanka, Mangroves were officially protected and conserved through legislation in 2015 through a Presidential declaration by the current president. Such changes in legislation can be achieved when young people have been able to contribute through long-term action.

In India, youth led solar power social enterprises are changing the face of the power struggle seen in rural villages, with villagers gaining a monetary income through grid contribution. This also results in the end of the vicious cycle of bribing for power connections.

Therefore using social entrepreneurship as a tool to support youth development would result in more innovative and more sustainable community held solutions for social issues. This turn would lead to more equitable and more habitable world for all of us, man and animal alike due to the environmental and social harmony created through social enterprise. In my capacity as a UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board Representative for Asia, I will advocate for social entrepreneurship in urban interventions to empower young people to address our “wicked challenges” through new tools and mechanisms.

Author: Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne, UN-HABITAT Youth Advisory Board

 

 

Open Mind, Open Society – Why Curiosity Has Never Been More Important

PLAN-Deutschland Foto-Workshop mit jugendlichen Geflüchteten in Hamburg
PLAN-Deutschland Foto-Workshop mit jugendlichen Geflüchteten in Hamburg am 21. Mai 2016. Photo: Morris Mac Matzen für PLAN-Deutschland

Capacity problems, political conflict and a lack of European solidarity: German authorities have been overwhelmed with the arrival of nearly a million refugees last year. But youth and civil society organizations, such as Plan International Germany, have stepped in. A successful integration is the key to stop growing xenophobia and to lay the fundament for a more colorful and resilient society.

“I always thought Germany is the best organized country in the world”, said a young Afghan who fled from the Hindukush to Germany last year. In the last months, that belief has faded. For more than seven months he has been living in one of Hamburg’s “Erstaufnahmeeinrichtungen”, temporary facilities where refugees have to stay until their asylum request has been processed. This spring, the German government extended the duration from three to six months to take away pressure from local authorities, but many cases are still delayed.

Life in these places – often old warehouses or gymnasiums – is rough. Often hundreds of people live in these camps, with little space, limited privacy and a depressing uncertainty about their future. Whereas in 2015 more than 80 percent of Afghans received asylum in Germany, in the first months of 2016 only 70 percent did – and numbers seem to continue declining. In comparison, 99 percent of Syrians are allowed to stay. Afghanistan, unlike Syria, is not considered by the German government as a war zone anymore. As a consequence, only people able to prove that their lives are at risk in their home country are allowed to stay.

The arrival of more than a million refugees in Germany last year confronted German authorities with so far still unsolved capacity problems. Civil society organizations and citizens have stepped in to help improve the humanitarian situation and contribute to what German chancellor Angela Merkel calls Germany’s biggest challenge since the reunification process 27 years ago: the successful integration of the refugees into the German society.

Back to the roots

At the beginning of 2016, the child rights organization Plan International Germany launched their first programs in German refugee camps. Plan International was founded after the Spanish civil war in 1937 to help parentless and displaced children and shortly after the Second World War also stepped in to help orphaned children in the post-war Germany. In 1989, the German branch of the organization was founded in Hamburg. Today Plan operates development projects in more than 51 countries worldwide – all outside of Europe or North America. Now, one could say the organization is turning back to its roots.

Even international refugee experts that used to work in refugee camps in the Middle East or in Latin America are re-allocated to Germany – something they probably would have never imagined to happen. But not only international experts, also thousands of young people in Germany get engaged.

I Spy With My Little Eye

During a workshop in February this year the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) of Plan International Germany decided to contribute to Plan’s work in a refugee camp in Hamburg. In collaboration with a group of young refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria they decided to launch a media project. Throughout the last weeks a group of young refugees walked around Hamburg. Equipped with cameras they took pictures of things that struck their mind or had a special meaning to them. They wrote a short text to describe what the photo meant to them.

The pictures – without the written explanations – were then sent to German members of the YAB who interpreted and commented on them. In Μay, the YAB and the young refugees came together in Hamburg for a workshop and to discuss the photos. The interpretations of the pictures showed impressively how different experiences and expectations influence a person’s perception of the environment.

Surprise, Surprise

A young Afghan was fascinated by chalk cases and chalk boards he found in a lecture hall in the University of Hamburg. He was totally stunned by the fact that in Germany, the home country of modern technology, as he said, universities were still relying on what he called backward technology whereas a poor country such as Afghanistan was using white boards and overhead projectors in its universities. The only logical explanation he could think of was that Germans somehow might have a nostalgic relationship with the past.

His German counterpart didn’t even mention the “ancientness” of the learning materials but instead wrote a more general abstract about the importance of education and the power it provides in a globalized world – not at all thinking about the incredulous astonishment the photographer felt when taking the picture.

Keep Your Curiosity Fresh

During the exchange, all participants learned a lot about their counterparts’ backgrounds. The project exemplified important conditions for any intercultural get-together: curiosity, empathy and the ability to openly reflect one’s personal perception of the familiar. They are the foundation of a relationship based on respect and mutual acceptance and key for a successful integration.

By organizing a public exhibition in Hamburg, the YAB aims to share this message, to stimulate the willingness and the curiosity of passersby so that they open their minds to new influences. Mutual learning and the ability to widen one’s horizon will not only facilitate integration, it will also make the German society more colorful, creative and resilient on the long-run. This is the message we should share in times, when right wing populists gain momentum throughout Europe.

 

Jonas Freist-Held (24) studied Political Science in Berlin and Berkeley, is the chair of the YAB of Plan International Germany and represents Europe in the YAB of UN Habitat.