15 October, Nairobi. – October is the month that the world comes together to identify opportunities and discuss challenges of the fast-changing human settlements and urban environments. Traditionally, the celebrations begin with the World Habitat Day, observed annually on the 3rd of October, with this years global ceremony taking place in the City of Balikesir, Türkiye.
At the opening ceremony, representatives from all key stakeholder groups had a say in shaping the spirit of the day. This year, a significant emphasis was put on multistakeholder partnerships being the bedrock of success in urban transformation, bringing Global Goals to local constituencies, the significance of the cities and human settlements, and the role of local governments and local actors such as youth and women’s groups in shaping the future of our cities.
Many of the speakers highlighted that communities, and especially women and youth, are a critical demographic in achieving sustainable urbanization and the 2030 Goals. “Youth are essential to ensure the future prosperity of cities,”- stated Samed Ağırbaş, Global Youth Expert. He went on to extol the passion and energy young people bring to attaining the SDGs. “Tapping into the power of the local communities to foster the bottom-up approach is essential for building healthier, happier and more resilient cities,” Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, also stated that communities are essential to healthy communities. “Tapping into the power of the local communities to foster the bottom-up approach is essential for building healthier, happier and more resilient cities,” she stated.
Young people were also an incremental part of that driving force, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to making the event a success. It would be impossible to imagine the World Habitat Day without their care, passion, and professional dedication to ensuring that no one is left behind in the dynamic vortex of agendas and on-site and online opportunities. Young people like us were at the heart of the organization of the event. ”As an employee of Balıkesir Metropolitan Municipality, I am proud to be part of this, working side by side with very dynamic and dedicated people.” – shares Sena Doğan, a young woman who
Youth are universally seen as most dynamic human resource. The theme of leaving no one and no space behind is a key focus of UN-Habitat and this years WHD. The youth roundtable: Don’t Leave the Youth Behind, was moderated by Rümeysa Kadak, one of the youngest elected Members of Parliament in the world, and the youngest Member of Parliament in the Republic of Turkiye. The Roundtable brought together both adults and yout, and underscored the invaluable role of young people in the process of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Cristian Castro from Dialogo Diverso, a youth-led agency based in Quito, Ecuador, promotes the engagement of all young people in sustainable urbanization. “While developing the programmes in Dialogo Diverso, as a first step, we ask: What do young people need? Then we create spaces to prepare the engagement agenda and plan for connection to employment opportunities, as well as the local governments,” he stated.
Dr Hayri Baraçlı, Secretary-General of the Union of Municipalities of Türkiye emphasized the need to address the generational gap between the young and old. “It is of critical importance to address the generational gap in society… As youth are growing and developing, the elder generation must act to match these advances and develop together with their youth,” he advocated.
To reach youth, they must be engaged in a way that they are both engaged and understand. Jassiel Ceseña, Principal Secretary, Los Cabos, Mexico highlighted the need to engage youth digitally. “Youth must be reached out via the channels they use and understand, including digital technologies. This is essential for effectively communicating with the younger generation.” Abdulhalim Aksu, Secretary-General of World Ethnosport Confederation, Türkiye , emphasized how sports can be a vehicle to engage youth. “Youth should be engaged in the sport movements, including alternative, ethnic sports – representing the values that should be kept alive,” he stated.
Although this year’s World Habitat Day has come to an end the global observance of the Urban October is not yet over. Tune in to the next round of discussions at the World Cities Day on the 31st of October, 2022, taking place in the City of Shanghai, China.