“Today, we face unprecedented urban, social and environmental challenges. From climate change to radicalization, youth are often at the front lines facing these problems. They are our hope and our future in assuring that we can find solutions.” - Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat)

New York, 31 January 2018 — In her remarks at the 7th Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, Maimunah Mohd Sharif made a call for national and local governments to continue to invest in the potential of youth globally. This was Ms. Sharif’s first statement at that United Nations as Executive Director of UN-Habitat to youth delegates from around the world in the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The forum, which focused on the role of youth in building sustainable and resilient urban and rural communities, welcomed a record number of ministers, government officials, youth delegates and youth representatives. Participants discussed the international community’s commitment to learning from young people and strategies to include active participation by youth in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and New Urban Agenda.

Ms. Sharif announced a commitment by the UN-Habitat Youth Unit to establish a Global Network of Urban Youth Councils (GNUYC). The GNUYC will contribute to the Urban Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that urban youth are engaged in all processes of urban decision-making. This network, supported by the Municipality of Istanbul, will be critical to involving youth in decision-making and allowing them to working in partnership with their cities to create a better world.

“I often say to young people that we must change ‘Impossible’ to ‘I AM possible’. We must envision a positive future where young people take up leadership in creating healthy and sustainable communities,” says Sharif.   In the first year, the GNUYC will focus on the following outputs:

  • building a community of practice on youth and local government
  • building capacity at local youth centres
  • creating opportunities to exchange knowledge engage young people in a meaningful decision process at the local level

The first Summit of Local Youth Councils will be held late this year – learn more at unhabitatyab.com