Youth-led Development

The Kampala Principles for Youth-led Development

by Jon-Andreas Solberg

Children and youth in the developing world are often represented in the research literature as either helpless victims, when referencing children, or perpetrators of anti-social behavior, when referencing youth. Rarely are children and youth seen as able to affect positively their own development nor that of their community. This is contrary to the many policy documents such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Action 21 and the HABITAT Agenda; all which promote the inclusion and participation of children and youth.

In 2007 representatives from the UN-Habitat´s One Stop Youth Resource Centres originating from four capital cities in East Africa gathered together in Kampala, Uganda. They came together with the goal of determining what were the core working principles of the One Stops which would assure that youth had the best experience possible, in a way which was sustainable over the long term and which recognized youth as leaders today.

Fast-forward 13 years later, and the One Stops have become a model of youth development. The principles that those representatives agreed to – now called the Kampala Principles on Youth-led Development – are now in use not only by the One Stops but by youth programmes globally. They have become the basis for ongoing research undertaken by UN-Habitat through the Global Youth-led Development research series which explores youth-led agencies, how they function, their impact and how they can be best supported. And lastly, the principles and the concept of youth-led development has begun to influence policy at the local, national and global level.

The 5 principles of youth-led development are:

  1. Youth define their own development goals and objectives;
  2. Youth have a safe and generative physical space;
  3. Adult and peer-to-peer mentorship;
  4. Youth act as role models for other youth;
  5. Youth are integrated into local and national development programmes and policies.

For more information please go to the Kampala Principles on Youth-led Development 

One Stop Youth Resource Centres

The One Stop programme is the longest running youth programme in UN-Habitat. There are currently 8 One Stop globally, the last two being established in Somalia. If you would like to accredit your youth centres as a One Stop, download the guide and get a hold of us at 

We are leaving no one behind

Youth-led Development in Action