Empowering Youth for a Sustainable Tomorrow: Co-Creating the Future at the UN General Assembly

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14 September 2023, New York. – In a world filled with challenges, the World Urban Pavilion Sister Neighborhoods program stands as a beacon of hope, dedicated to empowering youth and enhancing their skills in impoverished communities worldwide through knowledge exchange programs, job training, and the promotion of arts and culture.

Sister Neighborhoods has made a profound impact on marginalized communities globally, reaching places like Mathare and Kibera in Kenya, neighborhoods in Quito and Otavalo, Ecuador, and Regent Park in Toronto, connecting us in a shared vision of empowerment and community development. This program’s core mission revolves around empowering youth through skills training and the creation of safe public spaces.

For instance, the slum soccer tournament held in Mlango Kubwa, Mathare, brought together 100 boys and girls for an eight-week soccer program, promoting physical fitness, teamwork, and resilience, qualities that resonate with the essence of Sister Neighborhoods.

Amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sister Neighborhoods collaborated with Ecuadorian street artist Apitatán to create the powerful “Faces of Covid-19” mural. This artwork symbolizes the LGBTQ+ community’s resilience in the face of adversity, showcasing the strength and unity fostered by the program.

Sustainability lies at the heart of Sister Neighborhoods, exemplified by the Mathare One Stop Centre Recycling Workshop, where young individuals learn about recycling and create ornaments, promoting sustainability within their community.

Today, as part of the Co-Creating the Future: Localization of the SDGs by and for Youth session, held at the UN General Assembly, we continue our dedication to empowering the younger generation in driving sustainable change.

“The workshop has been truly transformative for me. Learning video editing has opened up new doors, allowing me to share my work not only with my local community but with an international audience,” expressed Gerrison Lumumba, a hip-hop artist from Mathare, echoing the sentiment of empowerment and global connection that Sister Neighborhoods fosters.

On World Creativity and Innovation Day, UN-Habitat organized a joint virtual concert that transcended borders, connecting the Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi and Regent Park in Toronto as part of the Sister Neighborhood project. This initiative seeks to establish bonds between marginalized urban settlements globally, promoting collaboration and shared learning.

The virtual concert provided a unique platform for music and visual artists to showcase their work to a global audience. It was more than just a celebration of creativity; it was a moment for artists to learn from one another, sharing insights on how to advance creative industries and promote positive change.

In summary, the collaboration between UN-Habitat, Mathare, Regent Park, and other communities epitomizes the power of art and creativity in transcending geographical boundaries, fostering community development, and empowering youth. Sister Neighborhoods unites us in a shared commitment to harnessing creativity for sustainable and inclusive urban development.”

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