Nairobi, 10 May 2017-- UN-Habitat and National Training Service-SENA (a public institution assigned to the Colombian Ministry of Labor in charge to provide social and technical training), today signed a historic agreement to offer training former youth combatants.

The signing ceremony which took place on the sidelines of the 26th Governing Council of UN-Habitat followed a press conference attended by the Colombia’s Ambassador to Kenya, Elizabeth Taylor Jay, Habitat’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Elkin Velazquez, the Urban Economy Branch Coordinator at UN-Habitat, Mr. Marco Kamiya and the Advisor for Promotions and Cooperate Relations at SENA, Ms. Luisa Fernando Gallo.

In her statement, Ms. Taylor Jay stated that we all have a moral responsibility to equip the youth with the necessary tools they need to create social change and a peaceful productive society. She went on to say that the Urban Peace Lab Program is designed to do just that, as well as to support the United Nations Security Council resolution on youth peace and security and other development priorities.

“The Urban Peace Labs collaboration between UN-Habitat and SENA will provide a platform for youth to develop their potential to serve as catalysts, implementer’s and partners in building a peaceful, more productive and resilient Colombia,” she stated.

Mr. Kamiya welcomed the opportunity for the project to be replicated and to offer opportunities for exchange between Africa, Asia and Colombia, and to provide youth with jobs and a better future. Mr. Velasquez, who grew up in Medellin recounted that the city was once one of the most violent cities in the world. The change that brought peace and prosperity to Medellin was due to the important decision on the inclusion of marginalized young people from difficult backgrounds into the development processes. He reiterated that the conditions for tension are there where young people are not included in education and opportunities for employment.

Ms. Gallo stated that the “Global Urban Peace Labs” is an enormous contribution to the peace building process in Colombia, it will give the opportunity to SENA apprentices, demobilized members of FARC and victims of the armed conflict to build projects together develop their potential and implement innovative ideas for peace building and sustainable development.