Youth as a Key Stakeholder in Achieving Sustainable Urban Future

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4 June 2023, Nairobi. – Urbanization is rapidly transforming our world, with more than half of the global population now residing in cities. As this trend continues, it is essential to prioritize the voices and aspirations of urban youth who represent the future leaders and catalysts for change. Recognizing the significance of engaging young people in shaping sustainable urban development, the UN-Habitat Assembly stands as a critical platform. The UN-Habitat Assembly is vital for urban youth and their active involvement can pave the way for a more inclusive and sustainable urban future.

What is UN-Habitat Assembly?

UN-Habitat Assembly is a high-level gathering of representatives from member states and other stakeholders that takes place every two years. The UN-Habitat Assembly is responsible for setting priorities for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and providing guidance on its work. Its main focus is on sustainable urbanization and the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, a global framework for urban development adopted by UN member states in 2016.

Why is UN-Habitat Assembly important to youth?

The UN-Habitat Assembly is important for youth because it provides a platform for them to engage in discussions and decision-making processes related to sustainable urban development. As young people are often the most affected by urbanization, they have a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing cities and towns around the world. Through participation in the UN-Habitat Assembly, youth can advocate for their needs and priorities, contribute to policy development, and collaborate with other stakeholders to create more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable communities.

Additionally, the Assembly provides opportunities for youth to network with other young leaders, share best practices and innovative solutions, and build their skills and knowledge in areas such as urban planning, design, and governance.

Children & Youth Assembly - Ballroom 2

Amplifying Youth Voices

The UN-Habitat Assembly provides an inclusive and representative space for urban youth to make their voices heard. It offers a unique opportunity for young people to express their ideas, concerns, and solutions regarding the urban challenges they face daily. By actively participating in the Assembly, youth can advocate for their needs and aspirations, ensuring their perspectives are considered in decision-making.

Fostering Youth-Led Solutions

Urban youth possess incredible innovation, creativity, and energy. Their perspectives and experiences are invaluable in finding effective solutions to urban issues. The UN-Habitat Assembly serves as a platform to showcase youth-led initiatives and innovations that contribute to sustainable urban development. It encourages collaboration, knowledge sharing, and peer-to-peer learning among young people from diverse backgrounds, facilitating the creation of transformative solutions that address urban challenges.

Promoting Youth Empowerment and Leadership

Participation in the UN-Habitat Assembly empowers urban youth to become agents of change in their communities. By engaging with policymakers, urban experts, and other stakeholders, young people can actively shape policies, programs, and projects that directly impact their lives. The Assembly provides opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills, build networks, and cultivate partnerships, enabling them to drive locally and globally sustainable urban development initiatives.

Supporting the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals

The UN-Habitat Assembly aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. Urban youth are key stakeholders in achieving this goal, as they are directly affected by urbanization and play a crucial role in its success. Their active involvement in the Assembly ensures that their needs and aspirations are integrated into urban development plans and policies, contributing to the realization of the SDGs.

Nurturing a Culture of Inclusion

The UN-Habitat Assembly emphasizes inclusivity, recognizing that sustainable urban development cannot be achieved without addressing the needs and concerns of all members of society, particularly marginalized groups. Urban youth, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, face unique challenges such as limited access to education, employment, and adequate housing. By actively engaging with the Assembly, young people can advocate for inclusive policies prioritizing social equity, social cohesion, and equal opportunities.

The UN-Habitat Assembly serves as a vital platform for urban youth to engage, contribute, and shape the future of sustainable urban development. By amplifying youth voices, fostering youth-led solutions, promoting empowerment and leadership, supporting the achievement of the SDGs, and nurturing a culture of inclusion, the Assembly provides a pathway for young people to make meaningful changes in their communities. It is essential for policymakers, governments, and stakeholders to recognize the importance of youth engagement and ensure their active participation in decision-making processes. Together, we can create cities and communities that are inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant, enabling urban youth to thrive and lead us toward a better future.

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