Lenin Zambrano at 2023 UN-Habitat Assembly

Bridging the Gap: Indigenous Wisdom and Collaborative Action for Sustainable Urbanization

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7 June 2023, Nairobi. – At the heart of the assembly, the High-Level Dialogue on “A sustainable urban future through inclusive and effective multilateralism: achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in times of global crises,” provided a platform for Member States, key stakeholders, and various actors to engage in substantive discussions on sustainable urbanization. The aim was to explore the role of multilateralism and multilevel governance in accelerating global progress towards sustainable urbanization.

Among the attendees was Lenin Zambrano, a dedicated cultural activist and defender of indigenous rights. As a young lawyer, Lenin shared his perspective on the vital contributions of indigenous communities to sustainable urbanization. He emphasized, “Our daily lives have always embodied the essence of sustainable development. We refer to it as ‘sumak kawsay’ or the good life in Kechwa, which addresses the pressing needs of our peoples.”

Lenin Zambrano playing flute at Youth Zone at 2023 UN-Habitat Assembly

Lenin emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts, such as the minga, a collective community work event, which fosters collective work and cooperation. He proudly highlighted the achievements of his community, including bilingual education and accessible healthcare, which were made possible through the leadership of council members.

In his speech at the High-Level Dialogue, Lenin aso underscored the significance of empowering indigenous youth and fostering leadership. He pointed to the Otavalango cultural centre as a prime example, bridging the gap between the past and the future. With the support of organizations like UN-Habitat, the project aimed to promote awareness, diversity, and development within the community.

The words of Lenin resonated with the audience, leaving them inspired and hopeful. His message emphasized the need to integrate indigenous knowledge and participation into sustainable urbanization efforts. Collaboration and partnerships emerged as essential elements for effecting positive change.

Lenin Zambrano participating in the multistakeholder panel at 2023 UN-Habitat Assembly

As the High-Level Dialogue drew to a close, participants left with a renewed sense of commitment. Lenin’s words echoed in their minds, reminding them of the imperative to bridge the gap between global aspirations and local action. Sustainable urbanization required collective efforts from nations, communities, and individuals.

The event served as a call to action, prompting stakeholders to reset policy directions and accelerate multilateral cooperation. The dialogue provided valuable insights and guidance to inform the work of UN-Habitat in promoting sustainable urbanization and implementing the New Urban Agenda.

With Lenin’s powerful words resonating, participants departed, ready to make a difference and transform aspirations into tangible outcomes. The journey towards a sustainable and inclusive urban future continued, fueled by the shared vision of a better world for all.

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