July 12 2022, Nairobi. – On the 27th of June, 2022 at the World Urban Forum, the Youth Zone was officially opened by Mr. Yücel Yılmaz, the Mayor of Balıkesir Municipality, Türkiye. In attendance were youth and representatives from the Polish Youth Council, Mr. S M Shaikat, Executive Director of SERAC-Bangladesh, Ms. Esther Muiruri from the Local 2030 Coalition, Ms. Kiara Jade Marvuglio from Fondation Botnar, Ms. Carolyne Mbithe, Programme Manager of Mathare Roots, Nairobi and Mrs. Nora Matindi Deputy Director Housing from the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Kenya.
Mr. Yilmaz remarked on the importance of establishing spaces for youth to express themselves and be part of localizing the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Youth Zone, co-hosted by SERAC-Bangladesh, Fondation Botnar, and UN-Habitat served as a platform for dialogue, learning, creative expression and celebration of youth action for sustainable development. It gave attending youth groups a global audience and facilitated meaningful engagements with government representatives and other decision makers at WUF11.
Other than being central in showcasing work by UN-Habitat on youth programming and the Youth 2030 Cities project on banners, posters and folders, a video on promising practices that were globally collected was also premiered at the venue. Similarly, short films on UN-Habitat’s work in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic were showcased along with an overview and presentation of the SDGs Scorecard by Ms. Esther Njiru and the Social Shifters Platform by Dr. David Haddow.
A Minecraft Presentation was also made by the Global Public Spaces Program, along with a training for Young Humanitarians that was facilitated by Ms. Esther Muiruri from the Local 2030 Coalition. In the training, presentations were made by Dr. Cherie Enns from University of Fraser Valley and world-renowned artist, Emmanuel Jal.
Forum participants who came to the booth expressed their delight at the variety of youth-led interactive activities and chance to exchange on localization of the SDGs with youth from different geographies within the Youth Zone.
Jacob and Francizek, Polish youth aged 14 and 15 were a constant presence in the youth zone. They noted the pride they had in their city hosting such a high-level event and the fact that they had a chance to participate in most events. On being interviewed and asked on what they would like to see their city do to enable age-inclusive and sustainable development, they noted “The number one thing we’d like to see in our city is more bike routes and better transportation”.