7 May 2023, New York. – The Thematic Breakout Session on Sustainable Development Goal 11 brought together a diverse group of young people to discuss the challenges they face in urban settings. Many of these challenges included vulnerability to crime and violence, lack of inclusion in local communities, unemployment, limited space for participation in urban governance and planning, the consequences of COVID-19, conflicts, and climate change.
Migrant and refugee youth, young people on the move, informal settlement residents, and persons with disabilities were identified as particularly vulnerable groups who are disproportionately affected. To address these challenges, the localization of SDGs led by youth was seen as critical in promoting sustainable urban development and reducing inequalities.
The session produced a set of recommendations to ensure access to basic services and social systems for all youth, including mental health care and adequate housing. It was also recommended to cultivate trust and connection between youth and governments and law enforcement, co-create effective crime prevention strategies with youth, and address corruption at all levels that perpetuate crime and violence.
The session also called for meaningful youth inclusion in urban governance processes and the creation of safe and accessible spaces with local authorities. It was suggested that governance systems should be made understandable and accessible to youth, and their capacities and knowledge should be built to engage with and contribute to the improvement of current systems on all levels of governance.
Furthermore, the session recommended creating platforms for young people to nurture civic engagement practices, providing sufficient funding for youth-led initiatives, and promoting up-to- date, lifelong educational opportunities tailored to the needs of youth.
Finally, the potential of digital technologies was identified as a means to transform the lived experience of youth in their cities and communities. It was suggested that this potential could be harnessed while ensuring the rights and privacy of youth in digital space.
Overall, the Thematic Breakout Session on Sustainable Development Goal 11 provided valuable insights into the challenges faced by young people in urban settings and produced a set of actionable recommendations to address these challenges. It emphasized the importance of amplifying youth voices for sustainable urban development and leading the way to recovery.