On October 17-18th the 6th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-6) took place in Jakarta, Indonesia. At the two day long forum, members from a variety of organizations representing youth gathered to discuss urban agenda at the regional level.
The Habitat III High Level Regional Meeting for the Asia-Pacific Region occurred on 21-22 October 2015, hosted by the Government of Indonesia to identify key issues and regional perspectives for the New Urban Agenda. Young people were strongly represented as a constituent group throughout these proceedings, with their activities coordinated by the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY).
A total of 30 youth participated in the High Level Regional Meeting: 18 from Indonesia and 12 from other countries within the Asia-Pacific region. These youth came from a number of major youth-led organisations, like the International Movement of Catholic Students – Pax Romana (IMCS), the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), Children and Youth International (CYI), the Japan Youth Platform for Post-2015, World Vision International (WVI), the Indonesian Green Action Forum (IGAF), and several others.
Throughout the forum, they worked hard to meet directly with Member States and stakeholders in order to advocate regional youth priorities and recommendations for the New Urban Agenda, in addition to maintaining two exhibition booths in the main foyer area to further highlight youth engagement. In addition, the UN Major Group for Children and Youth coordinated and hosted one side event about amplifying young Asian voices in the New Urban Agenda, whilst also having three representatives serving as panel speakers in two other side events.
On 22 October, young people’s voices were formally recognised in the meetings through the statement delivered on behalf of the Children and Youth Partner Constituent Group, a member of the General Assembly of Partners. UNMGCY, the chair of the Children and Youth Partner Constituent Group, delivered the statement which summarised the key priorities and recommendations of young people in the region on sustainable urban development, as outlined in the Asia-Pacific Children and Youth Position Towards the New Urban Agenda.
These positions were put together through the culmination of months of online and offline consultations facilitated by youth, in addition to the key themes arising from the Asia-Pacific Urban Youth Assembly (APUFY), which had gathered 300 young people together from the Asia-Pacific region earlier that week. In addition to making a strong call for children and youth to be seen as equal partners in the process, the statement also called for the right to safe and inclusive public spaces, a contextualised framework and new ways of financing sustainable urban urbanisation. It concluded by highlighting the critical importance of linking the New Urban Agenda with other intergovernmental processes to ensure coherency and build a more transformative, inclusive and sustainable future for all. You can see the full statement and the Asia-Pacific Children and Youth Position.
Overall, young people were highly engaged in this process, with many stakeholders voicing how impressed they were by the level and quality of youth engagement throughout the meetings. We were particularly pleased that most of the key points outlined in the Children and Youth Partner Constituent Group statement were incorporated into the outcome document of the meetings (the Jakarta Declaration), with stakeholder inclusion and participatory approaches strongly reflected in the language of the document.
Looking forward, the key regional youth priorities outlined in the Asia-Pacific Children and Youth Position Towards the New Urban Agenda will be used to continue to advocate the priorities of young people in the region with Member States and other stakeholders. In addition, the experience of meaningful youth engagement from this week will also be used to encourage stakeholders from other regions to prioritise youth participation and inclusion in all aspects of the Habitat III process leading up to Quito.
APUFY has been a great success, to large extent thanks to our partners that put a lot of effort in organizing and running 12 parallel sessions throughout the day! While they were all amazing, have a look at the highlights of one of the sessions that focused on the importance of data innovation and participatory design in urban planning, through the lens of Lalitia Apsari and Kautsar Anggakara from Pulse Lab Jakarta:
The session highlighted the emergence of bottom-up data capture and participatory design processes that are empowering communities and better informing urban planning. But to attract the attention of the youthful forum participants we transformed Creating Cities for Everyone with Data Innovation and Participatory Design into #PimpMyCity.
The session was structured as discussion between the five diverse speakers with the audience raising questions through the hashtag on social media. We were graced by the company of:
- Ahmad Rifai, Executive Director at Solo Kota Kita Foundation
- Dr. Ying Long, Founding Director of Beijing City Lab
- Gugun Muhammad, Urban Poor Consortium (UPC)
- Mizah Rahman, Co-Founder of Participate in Design (P!D)
- Oshean Lee Garonita, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority
Creating Cities with Everyone
When speaking of creating a city for everyone, there is a tendency for a ‘planning elite’ to take the lead. In a collaborative process, we shift from ‘designing a city for everyone’ to ‘creating a city with everyone’, combining both top-down and bottom-up approaches to understand the complex and evolving city system.
Mizah highlighted the complementarity of ethnography and data innovation, adding that stories offer meaning and context to the trends captured by the data. But, alas, it is not always easy to combine datasets, because, as Dr. Ying highlighted, big data is rarely open and open data is rarely big.
Gugun pointed out that open source and affordable technologies are empowering communities to develop highly relevant and granular data on their shared spaces and lived experiences. This is helping to address the data quality issues afflicting governments which was highlighted by Oshean.
Ahmad added that the validity of ‘bottom-up’ data collection processes is time and time again being demonstrated by urban communities, but that regulatory regimes make it difficult for governments to use the data. The audience agreed.
Empowerment is Key
Alas, it is hard to capture the depth of the discussion in a blog and we have certainly not done the speakers justice. But the questions and ideas flowing on Twitter was evidence that youth are more than ready to be engaged in collaborative processes of urban development.
The key point of the session was to highlight that while many different approaches to blending data innovation and participatory design exist within this space, the objective is the same: creating informed and empowered citizens and communities, both capable of better understanding themselves and of influencing decision-making processes.
The first ever APUFY kicked off on Saturday October 17th in Jakarta, Indonesia with number of optional activities at the Ministry of Public Works and Housing. Although optional, the 70% turn-out suggested the quality and energy of the historic event. Motivated and eager participants jumped into discussions without further encouragement and were later rewarded with a welcome reception hosted by the Minister Basuki Hadimuljono himself. To set the mood, the Minister proved he’s not only a man of big words and tough decisions, but also a melody when he sang and danced on the stage along other guests and APUFY participants.
The main activities were set for Sunday October 18th. An impressive line-up of honorable speakers gave their opening remarks to the audience of 300 youth participants from all over the region, carefully selected out of almost 2000 applicants. Douglas Ragan, Chief of the Youth Unit, UN-HABITAT alongside Basuki Hadimuljono, the Minister of Public Works and Housing, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Governor of DKI Jakarta and Gatot S. Dewa Broto, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Indonesia opened this remarkable event.
The opening session set the scene and placed APUFY’s deliberations in the context of the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals and the emerging New Urban Agenda to be adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, aka. Habitat III. Remarks have been made in the global, regional as well as Indonesian context. Not surprisingly, youth came to be the key stakeholder in the equation of finding solutions to urban challenges.
Following the Opening, there was a very interesting and often amusing dialogue session between the Governor of DKI Jakarta, the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport and the participants. The participants had a unique opportunity to ask any question and they used it without hesitation. Luckily, both of the honorable guests were eager to talk to the young people, and have answered even the most direct and sensitive questions. Here are some of the highlights of the Q&As:
Q: I have heard Indonesia has a large number of young people. What is the most effective way to take advantage of such youthful population?
A: The most important thing is to educate them and prepare them for adult life. We need to fight high unemployment rates by facilitating their integration to public as well as private sectors. We need to create sufficient opportunities and activities for young people to grow and develop.
Q: What do you expect from youth in terms of building sustainable and resistant cities?
A: To contribute to building and fostering the unity and diversity, two very important things in Indonesia. I can’t even imagine how the Indonesian independency would look like without the young people. Given the huge number of youth, nothing can work properly without their involvement. Young people shall stop to be underestimated. Remember the Arab Spring. It would have never happened without the active participation of the Tunisian youth.
Q: How can youth be better involved in decision-making?
A: Internet represents a great platform as they can share their ideas, thoughts and opinion with their peers as well as us, the officials. Open data are public and cannot be modified before they reach us which helps to fight corruption as well. We can also make our budgeting and policy making more transparent and thus facilitate easier participation of young people. Lastly, we need to work on improving of our own image in public. Many young people believe that government officials are lazy and that they don’t care about them. We need to make ourselves more approachable to prove them wrong.
And what were the recommendations for the way forward?
o Having more public spaces for recreation and activities in social housing and public spaces generally which encourage multigenerational interaction.
o Electronic planning and budgeting that allows transparency because data is easily accessible.
o District level discussions that go to city and then province level.
o Making things transparent allows youth to get involved through these forums.
o Using social media and QLUE program.
o Create incentives for young people to innovate for cities and participate, not just about entertaining young people without results and not just about financial support. Harness creativity of young people.
o Governments should not only give voice to youth but also opportunities.
o Use ICT that is not just about entertainment but focuses on encouraging youth to innovate.
The first Asia-Pacific Urban Youth Assembly at
APUF-6 in Jakarta, 17-18 October (APUFY) (Application deadline: 30
Are you a young person from Asia and the Pacific aged 18-32, and passionate
about urban issues? Read on!
As an official side event of the 6th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-6) in
Jakarta, Indonesia, the Asia-Pacific Urban Youth Assembly at APUF-6
(nickname “APUFY”) provides a regional platform for Asia-Pacific’s youth to
articulate urban issues and solutions impacting their lives and
communities. As the first gathering of diverse organizations and groups
representing youth in discussions of urban agenda at the regional level,
APUFY offers a step towards strengthening constructive partnership with
youth as key stakeholder in issues facing Asia-Pacific cities.
APUFY seeks to achieve the following objectives:
To articulate priority issues and strategies for further strengthening
youth participation in governance in Asia-Pacific cities
To facilitate capacity building based on a variety of successful youth
leadership models and youth-led solutions for sustainable and inclusive
To demonstrate youth’s ability and knowledge by having a high degree of
volunteer-led design, management, and participation in a diverse and
innovative set of activities
To strengthen voices of Asia-Pacific youth in regional and global urban
policy dialogues by linkages with APUF-6 and the Habitat-III process,
including inputs to UN MGCY-Habitat III, and beyond
APUFY will offer a highly interactive and diverse programme, including two
plenary sessions, 12 thematic parallel sessions, skills workshops and
optional activities, cultural evenings, and dialogues on urban policies.
Please note, applications for APUFY international participants closes on
Wednesday, September 30 at 11:59pm UTC/GMT time. Selection process for
Indonesia citizens may be subject to a different schedule. 300
participants will be selected in total.
The time has come for the first ever Asia-Pacific Urban Youth Assembly (APUFY) to take place this October in Jakarta, Indonesia. As an official side-event of the 6th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-6), the forum provides a regional platform for Asia-Pacific’s youth to discuss issues and solutions impacting their lives and communities.
Save-the-Date (17-18th October) and watch out for the Open Call for Participants that will be announced in the coming days to fight for your chance to secure a spot at this special event. The selected participants will have incredible opportunities to meet and talk to fellow activists and entrepreneurs as well as high level politicians, global leaders and inspiring personas from all walks of life. The outcomes and recommendations are expected to be fed in and presented at the APUF-6 and the Asia-Pacific High Level Prep Meeting for HABITAT III.
The UN-HABITAT, ADB and the Indonesian Government are delighted to host this event and welcome hundreds of talented young people from the region to take part. Make sure to be one of them!