In October 2016, the world leaders and representatives of the member states will gather in Quito, Ecuador to adopt the New Urban Agenda, a brand new road map to deal with all urban issues and a guide to achieving SDGs particularly in the urban context. For the first time in history, young people were recognized as stakeholders in the drafting process and are frequently referred to throughout the document. That is why UN-HABITAT wants young people to be placed in the front line of the action that will follow. Acknowledging young people’s enormous potential and capacity, UN-HABITAT works with top global youth networks to ensure that Quito marks the beginning of the youth “#UrbanAction”.
What is #Urban Action?
#UrbanAction is a global campaign calling on young people to actively engage in positive urban development. Youth groups, organizations and individuals alike will be encouraged to design and develop #UrbanAction projects in their city that build on the commitments outlined in the New Urban Agenda, and positively contribute to achieving one (or more) of the SDGs. We aim to implement over 150 youth projects related to New Urban Agenda and SDGs within the first year of NUA adoption.
Youth represent an essential and dynamic resource. Globally, 85% of the world’s young people live in developing countries and ever-increasing number of them is growing up in cities. We have the largest youth population ever – 1.8 billion young people are below 24 years of age. This is not a small number and as such, youth should be brought on-board as partners and assets.
Youth participation and engagement is the cornerstone of the #UrbanAction, empowering them to increase their level of engagement in local governance and activate their participation in sustainable urban development activities socially, politically and economically. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. The success lies in participatory and inclusive approaches that leave no-one behind.
While Quito will mark the launch of the #Urban Action, with first few project ideas implemented, the real work comes after Habitat III is over. Coordinated through the AIESEC international network and other partners, youth all over the world will commit and implement their #UrbanAction projects in their cities, in line with the New Urban Agenda and one (or more) of the SDGs. Join #UrbanAction today!
#H3Youth kept up the momentum built after the huge success of WUYM and other youth parallel event(s) at PrepCom3. Their activities were in good cooperation with the broader multi-stakeholder groups who worked hard to bring about a more inclusive New Urban Agenda with an eye toward its implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Youth groups voiced their staunch and great support for cities and local governments, as well as for the Right to the City initiative, together with the broader civil society and advocates for local governments. Youth activists with disability linked up with stakeholder group(s) to lobby with great effectiveness to mainstream important considerations for people with disability and those living in extreme poverty in urban settings.
Two official side events at PrepCom3, both on 27 July 2016, gave centre stage to discuss youth empowerment and contribution in the sustainable and inclusive urban agenda. The first was “Prioritizing Children & Youth Within the New Urban Agenda” that brought together youth representatives, development partners (including UN-Habitat), and child centred agencies such as World Vision International. The session emphasized the critical need of the youth to unite and work together in partnership with local authorities and partners.
The second was “Civic and Youth Participation in the Wired Age” made up of city governments, network of cities (CityNet), private sector companies, youth inclusive initiative (Block by Block), data initiatives Pulse Lab Jakarta (part of UN’s big data labs), among others. Here, Microsoft Indonesia’s Ruben Hattari cautioned PrepCom3 participants that all the new technology in cities could go to waste in the absence of a people-centered approach and engagement with citizens, especially the next generation. Youth contributed with lively Q&A from the floor, saying that social inclusion should be ensured in technologies and city development. It was another demonstration of just how youth engagement in urban policy issues should work.
On the Road to Quito and Beyond
Going forward, UN-Habitat will support youth groups in their last one mile on the road towards Quito, and their journey beyond the New Urban Agenda.
We urge governments to accept youth as development partner – working together with cities and local governments, and ALL urban actors – in achieving the New Urban Agenda and meeting the SDG’s, especially SDG 11.
So, thank you so much Surabaya! Congratulations to all youth leaders who contributed to PrepCom3 last week! Don’t forget to get ready for Quito – and beyond!
UN-Habitat Youth Unit team also launched the early results of its Global State of Urban Youth Report (GSUYR) 2015/16. GSUYR 2015/16’s theme tackled the issue of rising urban inequalities. “Urban Equity and Youth Development” was the topic.
With hashtag #GSUYR, WUYM’s youth participants in Surabaya and other cities joined in. They conducted focus group discussions (FGD’s) to deepen the understanding of economic, political, social and cultural and environmental inequity issues in their own cities. As a result, the research team received much-needed input from the youth. The team is looking forward to launching the GSUYR 2015/16 report officially at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador.
This full-day parallel event brought together around 500 youth participants in a showcase of “Youth Perspectives and Actions Towards People-Centred City” on 24 July 2016 (Sunday), the day before PrepCom3. UN-Habitat, together with UNTAG university and Surabaya city government, supported the joint effort. With cooperation from Microsoft, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UN country teams in Asia-Pacific, WUYM plenary sessions were livestreamed and linked with six cities beyond Surabaya, as well.
Firstly, UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Aisa Kirabo Kacyira captured the moment and said (at the opening ceremony), “the next generation [and women] must be treated as development partner if we were to succeed in New Urban Agenda.” Her opinion received enthusiastic support from youth during the event, which ran non-stop all day, from 7am to 7pm.
Perhaps more importantly, WUYM demonstrated that youth could be “doers” of inclusive urban development and policies that will be enshrined in the New Urban Agenda. Youth-led and youth-inclusive initiatives presented a range of variety expanding from the local to global: e.g. Urban Citizenship Academy, c2o in Surabaya, Safetipin for Manila, Youth 4 Global Goals, SDSN-Youth…just to name a few.
The Meeting was significantly diverse and highly participatory. The organizers directed the dialogue and focus group discussion (FGD) methodology; the youth volunteers facilitated the discussions, and the youth leaders shared best practices on urgent issues facing the urban youth such as “Good Government and Rights to the City”, “Urban Youth Against Extremism” and “Youth, Cities & Disaster Risk / Climate Change” (full schedule: here). WUYM participants and speakers represented who’s who from PrepCom3. Young people from 30 communities (kampungs) in Surabaya also joined forces.
To conclude a full day charged with youth energy, the APUFY 2015 delegate and urban planner, Emmy Yuniarti Rusadi declared at closing plenary, “We as youth have big responsibility in our own future.” Having contributed to Indonesia’s national Habitat III consultations and also becoming one of the independent candidates for Mayoral elections in her city (after participating at APUFY in October 2015), Emmy sent powerful message to #H3youth, urging young people to see beyond “these big UN conferences,” and commit to act on the ground to improve communities and cities. Joce Timoty Pardosi, Executive Director of IYMM, said their organization and actions in Indonesia, including contributions at PrepCom3, were the tangible legacy of APUFY. Many youth speakers similarly expressed determination to stay engaged for the long haul, and to act as change agents both locally and globally.
Habitat III PrepCom3 in Surabaya Takes One Step Closer to Next 20 Years
Last week, in Surabaya, a city in the East Java province of Indonesia, which is famous for its green and inclusive urban planning, witnessed many activities as it hosted PrepCom3, the last Preparatory Committee before the Habitat IIIConference to be held in Quito in October. About 4,200 delegates from 142 countries participated in PrepCom 3. As always, youth and children were active, both inside and outside of the United Nations conference process (we suggest you to check out twitter #H3Youth to get a sense of the experience).
So what happened at PrepCom3 in Surabaya and what were the outcomes from the perspective of youth that emerged from the conference?
PrepCom3 was the last big major push towards the the road to Habitat III. Negotiations by national governments were in full swing to finalize the text of the New Urban Agenda. At this 11th hour, diplomats, civil society members, local government advocates and major groups were all seen running in the conference room and hallways, voicing their critical input (as this blog is being written, however, we heard that delegates fell short of agreeing and they will push for it again in New York in late August/early September).
However, there was no hiding the fact that everyone’s focus was already shifting to beyond the New Urban Agenda, during PrepCom3. Of course, what lies “beyond” Habitat III is 20 years of making sure that the Agenda becomes a reality in the cities all over the world. In this context, one of the most exciting highlights from Surabaya was a vision of youth as an essential partner for the New Urban Agenda’s implementation, monitoring and its evaluation. Youth actions and messages from Surabaya made this point impossible to miss. In our view, we witnessed a positive and powerful turning point for #H3youth at PrepCom3.
Habitat III is the third Habitat agenda conference which will be held in Quito, Ecuador in october 2016. It will set a #NewUrbanAgenda globally, and is likely to have a large impact on how our cities and settlements will look in the future. It is also the first big UN-conference to discuss the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs).
Still figuring out how to get involved with Habitat III? The Habitat III secretariat will continuosly be hosting online dialogues divided into the six thematic areas defined as part of the agenda so far. The six areas are Social Cohesion and Equity, Urban Frameworks, Spatial Development, Urban Economy, Urban Ecology and Environment and Urban Housing and Basic Services.
For each of the thematic areas, the secretariat has prepared a number of issue papers, discussing the subareas of each theme. These issue papers serve as a god baseline for the discussion, but is by no means a requirement to read the papers in order to get engaged in the discussion. The secretariat is looking for good practices, examples and opinions that can be used as part of the foundation for the New Urban Agenda.
You can get engaged by creating a profile and start adding comments to each of the thematic areas. Urban issues touches upon so many aspects of young peoples lives, and it is very likely that YOU will have a valuable contribution towards creating a #youth friendly, equitable and inclusive New Urban Agenda.
On 17 December 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.
The theme of International Youth Day, 12 August 2015, is “Youth Civic Engagement.” The engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development. Yet often the opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are low or non-existent.
On this occasion, The UN Secretary General Envoy on Youth is hosting a Twitter chat, where several UN agencies and civil society organisations will join in on the discussion. So can YOU(th)! Check out the schedule for the thematic chats below, and join in!
The hashtags for the event is #YouthNow and #YouthDay
For regular updates from the discussion, follow: @AhmadAlhendawi, @unhabitatyouth @action2015youth, @restlessdev, @myworld, @MToomeyUN, @undp, @undp4youth, @unhabitat, @unfoundation
Thematic twitter discussions: (times are Eastern Standard Time)
9am-9:30am EST | A Chat with Youth and Civil Society on Youth Engagement
Youth and civil society organizations chat about Youth Engagement
9:30am-10:00am EST | #AskYouthEnvoy: A Chat with the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
Ask the SG’s Envoy on Youth about youth-related issues
1:30pm – 2:00pm EST | My World: A Future Defined by 5 Million Young People Globally
The My World Survey findings explained and elaborated
2:00pm – 2:30pm EST | Youth Civic Engagement and the United Nations
How can youth engage in the UN?
2:30pm-3pm EST | Topic: Youth Mobilization for Global Action and Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
How can youth contribute to the implementation of the SDGs?
Log on to twitter.com and contribute, or simply enhance your knowledge about how youth are and can be drivers of positive change around the globe.
Habitat III will be the UN’s first urbanization conference in 20 years – and some countries are trying to prevent cities from participating. Yet from the global economy to climate change, cities offer our best hope for solutions.
UN conferences on urbanization occur just once every 20 years. The third, Habitat III, will convene in Quito, Ecuador late next year. It is a unique opportunity for the world’s nations to debate the future of their cities, as urbanization becomes the defining social phenomenon of our time.
There’s just one problem. It remains possible that the cities of the world – from small metropolises to New York and London and Tokyo – may not get a seat at the table. Even in a world that is now majority urban for the first time in history, the issues of city economies, slums and climate crises may well be discussed without a single mayor or city councilperson able to speak.
It’s not just Habitat III where this is happening. Roughly three-quarters of all carbon emissions are generated in cities, or for the benefit of urban dwellers – but cities were effectively excluded from the global climate negotiations in Lima last year. They fear the same may happen at the next, potentially decisive round of negotiations in Paris this December. In preparatory documents for the conference, cities weren’t even mentioned.
Yet while they’re the prime polluters, cities are also on the forefront of climate solutions – and not just by setting goals. Some are cutting their carbon emissions already. A recent UN-Habitat study shows that at least 19 cities – among them Berlin, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Mexico City, New York and Toronto – can prove they’ve reduced their annual CO2 emissions.
Some nation-state leaders do recognize the importance of cities in the battle for a safer environment. US Secretary of State John Kerry, expressing concern that the Paris negotiations would set unambitious goals, recently told the Washington Post that it’s time to bring the weight of global civil society to bear, starting with cities and mayors. And in a dramatic broadside issued 30 June, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced they would co-host the Climate Summit for Local Leaders in Paris on 4 December, timed to coincide with the climate negotiations there.
With all this organized experience, it’s not always clear why nation-states are so reluctant to welcome cities into their official sessions. Some national delegations may simply consider local and regional governments inferior. Politics can play a role as well: national leaders may be reluctant to give a stage to big-city mayors, who are sometimes their political rivals. Or it could just be indifference. In the recent debate over the UN’s sustainable development goals, it took a concerted campaign by urban strategists to get a specific goal related to urbanization.
“The more the world is urbanized, the more difficult it becomes for nations to accept this,” said Yunus Arikan, head of global advocacy for ICLEI. “If nations don’t get the point that they have to work with local and subnational governments, they’ll not just miss a huge opportunity. They’ll be on track for failure.”
The quandary is that opening the UN’s door to cities as real players depends not just on heavily urbanised states such as the US, Brazil, India and China. Tiny, rural nations such as Burundi and Tonga have equal votes in the General Assembly. That may have made sense back in 1945, when a much more rural world founded the UN. But does it make sense now that we’re close to 55% urban, and headed for 70% or higher by mid-century? From climate talks to Habitat III and a host of other pressing issues, that’s the question.
The Youth Advisory Board is a youth consultative body that advises the UN-HABITAT on strategies to engage young people in sustainable urban development. Currently heading to its fourth term, the YAB has made tremendous progress in mainstreaming youth issues into UN-HABITAT’s work over the past 7 years.
On Friday 31st July, the voting for the next Youth Advisory Board (YAB) has opened its lines for exactly one month. If you are between 16-32 then use this opportunity to cast a vote for your future regional representative! 14 members with equal gender representation per region will work hard to put youth at the forefront of high-level discussions and decision-making processes.
Quick look at the candidates fighting for your support:
Latin America & the Caribbean
Although the first impression matters, take couple of minutes to read the short bio of your regional candidates to make the right choice. Visit the UN-HABITAT Homepage and don’t forget to vote before 31st August!
Good luck to all candidates! We’re excited to work with the new Board soon!
Saturday was fun! UN-HABITAT visited the Mlango Kubwa community in Mathare slums, Nairobi to run a workshop on public space planning with local children and youth. Our friends from Up with Hope, Spatial Collective and Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Club helped us to put this event together.Though we planned for 30 participants, dozens more children showed up in the youth center, our main venue. Some of them were too young to participate, so they just watched and played. Some were eager to join the group work and we didn’t stop them. Why would we – after all, it is them, the children and young people of Mlango Kubwa that live there and thus have the right to say, what they would like to see happening with the space around them.
Joao took over the ice-breakers and energizers throughout the day to keep everyone sharp and in good mood. Dana and Tone facilitated the process. Building on the success of the Youth & Urbanization workshop that we ran at the East Africa Cup in Tanzania a week earlier, the participants started with drawing their community maps the way they see it. Unlike in Moshi, each group was working with different type of public space: Hang out spaces, sport spaces, green spaces, art spaces and safe spaces. This way we could get more comprehensive understanding of what’s going on in the community and create broader wish-lists to work with.
Once the brain work of space assessment and wish-lists was done, each group went to visit the physical spaces they identified as the best one right now and the new one to be created in future. Interestingly enough, many places overlapped (e.g. same place was chosen as the best sport space, the safest space and the best space to hang out) and also some of the things on their wish-list fitted well in more categories (e.g. swimming pool has been identified as a desirable space intervention by the safe space group as well as the hang out group). Various types of sport fields (volleyball, rugby, basketball etc.) have been also marked by more than one group.
The final poster making and presentations were fantastic too! Young people put together their work and added some action points to kick off the transformation process. With confidence and pride they presented their work to the rest of the group and few guests. The posters remain in the community for others to admire their work and as a reminder for the participants.