7 June 2023, Nairobi. – The Youth Caucus participants at United Nations Habitat Assembly witnessed an inspiring speech by Michal Mlynar, the Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat. Given on the 6th of June 2023, Mr. Mlynar’s speech at the Youth Caucus highlighted the crucial role of youth in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With an emphasis on youth engagement and the importance of localization, Mr. Mlynar reaffirmed UN-Habitat’s commitment to empowering young voices in shaping the future of sustainable urban development.
Engaging Youth: A Top Priority
Mr. Mlynar’s speech commenced with a warm welcome to the youth participants, emphasizing that youth engagement was one of his top priorities. Acknowledging the invaluable support of the Government of Turkey and the mayor of Balikesir, who hosted the youth advisory board, Mr. Mlynar recognized the need to build upon existing initiatives.
Promoting Sustainable Urban Development
The Deputy Executive Director underlined the pressing challenges and priorities of UN-Habitat. The first priority identified was housing, emphasizing that adequate housing forms the foundation for various aspects of development. Improved housing not only provides shelter but also grants access to essential services such as water, sanitation, education, and healthcare. Mlynar stressed the need for comprehensive conversations regarding affordable and decent housing, as it paves the way for enhanced opportunities and economic growth.
Climate action emerged as the second priority, with Mlynar expressing his delight in learning that many youth participants were actively working in this area. He emphasized the importance of establishing linkages between UN-Habitat’s work and climate action, recognizing the urgent need to address the climate crisis in urban areas.
Addressing urban crises was identified as the third priority. Mlynar pointed out the prevalence of man-made and natural disasters worldwide, highlighting the necessity for proactive measures to mitigate and respond to such crises. From the impacts of climate change to conflicts and population displacements, urban areas face multifaceted challenges that require collective action and preparedness.
SDG Localization and Grassroots Engagement
Mlynar stressed the significance of localization in achieving the SDGs. He emphasized the need to bring SDG implementation to the local level, collaborating with mayors, governors, and grassroots organizations. Recognizing the unique perspectives and contributions of young people, Mlynar called upon youth and other grassroots organizations to actively participate in the localization efforts. The Deputy Executive Director highlighted the forthcoming high-level political forum in New York and the importance of bringing the message of localization to this global platform.
Youth Empowerment and Future Opportunities
Mr. Mlynar expressed his hope for the swift reconstitution of the Youth Advisory Board, facilitating meaningful consultations and progress. He shared news of the upcoming youth assembly during the World Urban Forum to be held in Cairo, Egypt, in November 2024. This event would provide a valuable opportunity to prepare for the Summit of the Future and consolidate outcomes for implementation at the local level.
Collaboration and Synergies
Recognizing the need for collaboration across various UN entities, Mr. Mlynar mentioned the advisory board on local and regional authorities appointed by Secretary-General Guterres. He envisioned potential avenues for engagement between this advisory board and UN-Habitat’s youth advisory board, acknowledging the importance of synergies and shared objectives. Mr. Mlynar also highlighted the UN Youth Office in New York, expressing pride in championing its creation alongside other member states.
Michal Mlynar’s speech resonated with the youth participants at the UN-Habitat Assembly, reaffirming UN-Habitat’s commitment to empowering young voices in urban development. The focus on youth engagement, localization, and collaboration with grassroots organizations highlighted the importance of collective efforts in achieving sustainable urban development and the Sustainable Development Agenda.