New York 15 October 2015—A side event by UN-Habitat at the United Nations General Assembly highlighted the key role of young people in sustainable urbanization, providing documented evidence of their leadership at the local, national and international level.Some focus issues included unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges.
The event was an important milestone in examining challenges of ineffective and non-inclusive urban planning combined with rapid urbanization and a demographic youth bulge.
Data was presented by stakeholders from the UN and civil society including SK S M Shaikat (SERAC-Bangladesh, UN-Habitat Urban Youth Fund beneficiary 2010), Aline Rahbany (Centre of Expertise for Urban Programming, World Vision International).
Comments were provided by Mr. Doug Ragan (Chief, Youth and Livelihoods at UN-HABITAT), Mr. Ravi Karkara (Strategic Adviser to the Assistant Secretary General & Deputy Executive Director, UN Women), and Mr. Marvin Matthew.
The speakers emphasized that in many places around the world, the effects of urbanization and the youth-bulge can already be felt. Youth face lack of access to proper housing and often find themselves in slums and informal settlements; inadequate and outdated infrastructure – be it roads, public transport, water, sanitation, or electricity – escalating their poverty and unemployment; children and youth, especially girls and women, are impacted disproportionality by crime and violence, and there is rapidly diminishing public space for young people relegating them both socially and spatially to the urban margins.
The conference highlighted the phenomenal shift towards urbanization, especially with 6 out of every 10 people in the world expected to reside in urban areas by 2030 and the developing world accounting for over 90% of the world’s urban growth. With more people under the age of 25 today than ever, totaling nearly three billion or almost half of the total global population, a call for more focus on youth was made.
Of the youth population, 1.3 billion of that total are between the age of 12 and 24. These young people live, by and large, in cities and towns. It is estimated that as many as 60% of all urban dwellers will be under the age of 18 by 2030. Speakers emphasized that youth must play a pivotal role in the urban agenda
A seminal piece on Innovation, Tech, and Youth was released by authors Ravi Karkara and Marvin Matthew, with a foreword from Monique Morrow, CTO-Evangelist-New Frontiers for Development-Engineering at Cisco.
The piece, titled “Innovation, Tech, and Youth: Harnessing Lessons Learnt for Strengthening Youth Participation for Sustainable Development” was a first-of-its-kind youth focused technology piece that examines the role of youth in technology and innovation in various parts of the world and the connection with development.