Visit… Wadi Foukin

Sharek Youth Forum and Wadi Foukeen’s Youth Local Council Conduct the “Visit Wadi Foukeen” Campaign

Sharek Youth Forum alongside with Wadi Foukeen’s Youth Local Council conducted the campaign, “Visit Wadi Foukeen”, in hopes to shed the light on Palestinian farmers and show the cruel realities in which they face. By organizing regular visits from families and tourists and whilst inviting the media to document and track these violations we have been able to show what the village is currently experiencing. This was accomplished with the presence of more than 250 visitors and a number of officials including local and international organizations.

Abdel Sabaaneh, the Project Manager, affirmed that this campaign is one of many campaigns conducted by Sharek in accordance with local youth councils conducted by Sharek in accordance with local youth councils to promote youths’ role in their communities and ensure their active participation in making all possible changes.

Sabaneeh added, “These kinds of activities can help youth get involved and influence local government policies”.

Salah Baba, the Director of Agriculture in Bethlehem, asserted the importance of youth in preserving the local agriculture despite all the obstacles they currently face. Baba confirmed the necessity of continuous agriculture advancement in this village, stating that these factors help them supply the city with crops.

Furthermore, the Youth Local Council of Wadi Foukeen stressed that this campaign was born out of a sense of responsibility for the village. Expressing that they are determined to improve the situation of the village and preserve its’ cultural and natural heritage whilst promoting the role of Palestinian farmers and the resistance.

The council added that this is only their first step in encouraging the regular visits to the village and stated that they will not stop until they have fulfilled their duty.

“We Have a Role”, is a project implemented by Sharek Youth Forum alongside UNHABITAT and three local governing bodies that are located in Jenin, Bettir and Al-Khader. This project works to engage young people with their local governing bodies and encourage them to strive for policy development, further hoping to enhance their social accountability.


PDF download with pictures available here: wadi foukin

United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Forum on Youth 2014

There was a lot of talk surrounding the ECOSOC Youth Forum which took place on Monday June 2, 2014 and Tuesday 3, 2014 at the UN Headquarters in New York. These discussions focused on one clear mission: ‘mainstreaming youth in the post 2015 development agenda’. But, what exactly was the ECOSOC Youth Forum all about and why was it such an important milestone for global youth development and engagement?

The ECOSOC Youth Forum under the theme “#Youth 2015: Realizing the Future They Want” was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as part of the preparatory process for ECOSOC’s 2014 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), which is scheduled to be held in July, under the theme: “Addressing on-going and emerging challenges for meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and for sustaining development gains in the future”.

The forum was organized specifically to engage young people from every side of the globe, to form a collective voice and speak on issues which affect them, and to safeguard their future and that of their countries. Youth representatives from around the globe participated in dialogue sessions such as “promoting youth employment-creating decent jobs for a more sustainable future” and “Youth: The Future They Want Beyond 2015.” Youth delegates were given the opportunity to listen and engage in an interactive discussion among themselves and with member states on how they could be included in shaping the post-2015 development agenda.

There were several breakout sessions which gave participants an opportunity to further engage in more in-depth discussions about these thematic areas: youth employment and entrepreneurship, education, health, governance and participation and peace building and stability. These themes followed the structure of the Post 2015 Crowdsourcing Initiative which was organized by the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, in partnership with other UN entities, international NGOs, youth groups and stakeholders, in an effort to promote youth priorities in the post-2015 development agenda. The outcomes from this Global Youth Call were further discussed in these breakout sessions and participants/youth delegates also outlined how they intend to maximize on the Global Youth Call initiative in their countries. Youth delegates were also urged to make recommendations on what further steps they can take to continue to advocate for youth inclusion and prioritizing youth issues in the Post 2015 agenda. These conclusions and recommendations will be shared with the council during the AMR in July.

Having attended the ECOSOC Forum, I saw firsthand the importance and benefits of this event on youth engagement and the mission to prioritize youth in the Post 2015 agenda. As a youth delegate, I was given a chance to engage in discussions with UN and other stakeholders regarding issues which affect youth in my country/region. Furthermore, I was able to share best practices for youth engagement in the Post 2015 Agenda. As a youth delegate, it is my duty to sensitize youth about the Post 2015 Agenda, share the discussions of the forum and create an action plan based on the needs of youth in my country.

Never before has the UN and its stakeholders presented so many opportunities for youth engagement. This year (2014) has presented so many opportunities for our collective voices to be heard. The ECOSOC Youth Forum was only of many opportunities for youth to speak on issues which affect them and make recommendations specific to their regions. We must take full advantage of all the attention we are getting; so start speaking up if you have not done so in the past…and remember…our future starts NOW!

To learn more about the ECOSOC Youth Forum 2014 and the Crowdsourcing initiative on youth in the post-2015 development agenda, visit and

On the way to creating a new urban agenda


Come 2016, the world is getting ready to establish a new urban agenda at the Habitat III meeting. Urban challenges and possibilities are all about youth and our livelihood. Lets make the new urban agenda a youth agenda.

Habitat III
In 2016 the UN-­conference on housing and sustainable development, Habitat III will set a new urban agenda, deciding what the governing principles for urban practice and development will be. It will reinforce the commitments made at Habitat II in Istanbul in 1996, and adapt the agenda to current reality and projections for the future. Habitat III will also be the first UN conference discussing the implementation of the post 2015-­agenda, the new development goals.

Habitat III is about creating progressive and universal goals for urban practice, but creating a new urban agenda is also about how this is implemented in national and local governance structures. In order to set good goals that can actually be implemented, the process needs to be an inclusive one from start to finish, and then ensuring lasting participation in the implementation, meaning good and inclusive governance structures- on international, regional, national and local level.

Urban youth
More than 18 per cent of today’s world population, are between the ages of 15 and 24, the UN definition of youth. 87 per cent of these live in developing countries. A growing number of youth live in urban areas. Youth in urban areas often lack access to housing, transportation and other basic services and have unequal access to opportunities for education, training, employment, and recreation. In other words, increasing numbers of young people live in cities where they face difficult economic, political and social challenges. The amount and scope of urban issues concerning youth are alarming, and it will be essential to address them in a new urban agenda. Youth then, must have a key role in creating and implementing the new urban agenda.

National Habitat reports
The process leading up towards Habitat III will be initiated by all member states creating a national report on best urban practices and challenges. The general assembly, through its resolution 67/216, paragraph 11, encouraged this process to include “…the active participation of all relevant stakeholders…”, stating that in writing this report, the national governments are strongly advised to have a broad inclusion of all stakeholders, including youth. The report is due on the 30th on june this year, and although the practice of creating the report will vary from country to country, youth participation needs to be a main focus for all.

Although 30th of june is right around the corner there is still a huge potential for youth and youth organization to give their input before it is finalized. We need to stress the importance of giving input on this specific report because the reports will be the basis for further work on the agenda. Come september the first preparatory committee for Habitat III will be held, and from here on it will only narrow down, and it will be extremely hard to get new thoughts added.

Most countries will probably facilitate some form of consultation, but unfortunately these consultations are not always as inclusive they should be-­ not reaching out to all relevant stakeholders, lack of practical information and done in a bit of a hurry a few weeks before the report is due, making it harder for the parts giving input to find the time and resources to do it. This is of course not the case for all, but it will be for some.

Inclusive consultations or not-­ give your input. National ministries have e-­mail addresses, mailboxes, facebook pages-­ you will be able to give your input even though you are not formally invited to.

In order to be able to get your organizations goals in the new urban agenda it should to be on the table for this first round. If youth are mobilized to give their input on the national report, it will send strong message on how important youth issues and participation is for the new urban agenda.

And then..?

Whats next you say? There will be three preparatory committee meetings which will discuss the agenda, one in september 2014, one in april 2015 and one right before Habitat III in 2016. Youth need to have a strong presence on all three, but also in between, pushing our governments to push the youth agenda. How? Lets discuss that further. In the meantime, get your best practices and ideas down on paper and push that youth agenda like never before. It is our urban future, let us be the one to create it.

Tone Vesterhus
Norwegian youth delegate on urbanization

World Urban Forum in Medellín, Colombia

First day at the World Urban Forum! Follow this blog and the YAB Facebook page to keep up with news from Medellín, Colombia!

Youth Advisory Board members met with representatives of the Medellín Youth Secretariat to discuss mutual objectives and ways to integrate their actions at the Youth Assembly and Forum. In addition to their collaboration at  the Youth Assembly, it was decided to organize a joint visit to innovative youth-led projects, in order to share information and experiences between Medellín youth and youth from around the world. The Youth Advisory Board thanks the Medellín staff for their warm welcome!

YAB Medellín
Youth Advisory Board members Dana, Maya and Edi with Medellín Youth Secretariat representatives Juan Camilo, Luz Marina and Julio

Positively influencing life in the slums


Raphael Obonyo’s story is one of a dogged determination that has seen him fight all odds to be an influential youth leader.

 Raphael grew up in Korogocho, a sprawling urban slum in Nairobi, Kenya where he has co-founded vibrant community youth led initiatives.

Raphael, 32 is the external adviser and a member of the UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board, which advises the agency on how to engage, integrate and respond effectively on issues affecting the youth. This puts Raphael at the global sphere of influential young leaders who can help shape the world by addressing post 2015 thematic issues that touch on the youth.

Recently, the German Marshall Fund of the United States has recognized Raphael Obonyo from Kenya as one of the emerging leaders.

In 2001, he co-founded Miss Koch initiative to promote girls’ empowerment and education. The initiative has done remarkable work of advocating for the rights and dignity of the girl child.  In 2006, together with other youth in the area, he co-founded the Koch FM community radio, to give voice to the urban poor. He is also the founder of the Youth Congress, a vibrant youth organization that promotes youth leadership and participation. He also co-founded the K Youth Media, an organization that equips youth from the slums of Nairobi with skills on media and film.

Having been born and raised in harsh conditions in the slums, Raphael has a first-hand experience and has been conscious of the negatives effects of urbanization, underdevelopment, poverty and its related problems. Raphael, has certainly come a long way from the days when he was a boy studying in the dim light of a tin lamp.

As such, Raphael tends to understand deeply the issues affecting the urban poor and their families. This could be one of the reasons as to why nothing beats his sheer determination to see young and needy brilliant students from Korogocho, Mathare and other urban slums get an education and liberate themselves from their hardships. In the true sense of the word, Raphael is an enemy of poverty.

In 2008, he started a noble initiative to promote education as an important tool for development. He started by awarding best performing students. Through some of his friends in the Netherlands, he has managed to give full scholarship to 20 needy students from the slums of Nairobi to get them through secondary school. All the students go to Our Lady of Fatima Secondary School in Nairobi.

Such efforts to serve the community where he grew up in and better the lives of other young people have not gone unnoticed. In 2010, he was nominated by young people from Korogocho to sit in the UN Habitat Youth Advisory Board. In May 2012, the UN Habitat officially confirmed him as a member of the Board.

Raphael will soon be heading to Morocco to meet with high level policy maker, business leaders, media and opinion shapers from across the world to discuss a range of global issues.

Raphael who was pleasantly surprised by the recognition as an emerging youth leader in the world believes that being a member of the UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board has given him immense opportunity to serve the youth causes at the national and global arena.

He says that to be recognized as an emerging leader in the world is not only humbling, but calls for more determination in his part to give back to his global and local society. It has given him more enthusiasm and momentum to continue serving the youth and his community with determination.

Blog Post Taken From:

Meeting With Global Land Tool Network

Kneeling over some land.

During the 23rd Governing Council YAB members were fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with members from the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) team, including Eirik Sorlie and Siraj Sait.

The GLTN’s main objective is to contribute to poverty alleviation and the Millennium Development Goals through land reform, improved land management and security of tenure.

Just hanging out… talking planning!

The GLTN originates from requests made by Member States and local communities world-wide to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), who initiated the network in cooperation with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World Bank, in 2006.

Our meeting focused on how their research group can work with youth to incorporate youth perspectives into land issues.  Staff and researchers were very receptive to YAB input and after fruitful discussion some key conclusions were reached.  The following provides a brief overview:

  • Defining youth is very important as there are significant differences between age groups of 12 -24 and 25 -32;
  • Youth branches of professional organizations could be important actors on youth and land issues;
  • It is vital that youth are put at the same table as other partners and not always separated;
  • It is important to build youth capacity on land issues and use language that is accessible to youth (e.g. “youth in informal settlements” and “youth and rural livelihoods”);
  • Similar to goals to achieve ‘adult diversity’, involve a mix of youth professionals and grassroot youth in GLTNs work.

We look forward to continuing to consult with the GLTN as the research progresses!

YAB meets the ED!

The Youth Advisory Board today had the opportunity to meet the new UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos for a quick chat about the work UN-HABITAT has been doing on urban youth and development as well as to brainstorm ways to continue to mainstream youth issues across UN-HABITAT’s agenda under his leadership!

At the meeting, YAB had the opportunity to share some of our achievements over the past two years, which included contributing to:

– The Urban Youth Fund – $2million dollars over 2 years!

– Youth Research – the first State of Urban Youth Report

– Mainstreaming Youth – advising on youth perspectives throughout UN-HABITAT

– Global Networking – through the World Urban Youth Assemblies

– One Stop Centres – building capacity among youth for new job markets

And other initiatives, which we encourage the agency to continue, since we recognize that is through this support that UN-HABITAT continues to reduce long-term poverty and urban conflict.

But we were not there only to celebrate good the good things. We used the opportunity to discuss a bit about the recently completed evaluation (which YAB members participated in fully!). And from the lessons learnt in the evaluation as well as from the experience we had during our mandate, we took the opportunity to recommend few key points in regards to the future of the UN-HABITAT YAB:

1. Assignment of responsibility of supporting YAB to a specific Youth Unit Staff member. (We believe that to assure that the YAB works to its best potential, and that youth are mainstreamed and integrated into the operations of UN-HABITAT, that there be a dedicated staff. Proper staffing levels are fundamental to the success of youth programming.)

2- Identification of skill needs among Board members and build capacity accordingly. (We Strongly agree that one of the key aspects of the YAB is building YAB member capacity to better represent UN-HABITAT globally as we have done over the last two years.)

3- Identification of information gaps experience by Board members and address them by maintaining regular two-way communication, including preparation of quarterly reports by UN-HABITAT staff. (We believe that this again relates to the staffing and capacity issue of both the YAB and the Youth Programme. We cannot reiterate enough the need to assure that there is proper capacity within the Youth Programme.)

We also took the opportunity to support Dr. Joan Clos in the new focus areas for UN-HABITAT, which are: urban planning, institutions and employment. We believe that youth are key to each of these, and therefore we encouraged the agency to both target and involve youth in the planning of any programs developed.