Global youth highlights ‘people-centered’ urban future at Urban Youth Meeting

Representatives of the global youth gathered at the Urban Youth Meeting on July 24 in UNTAG University in Surabaya, Indonesia, to consolidate urban youth perspectives towards the New Urban Agenda. The main event took place in Surabaya with plenary sessions and activities livestreamed to six other cities including Jakarta, Manila, Phnom Penh, Kathmandhu, Bangkok, and Ulaanbaatar with more than 600 youth participants.

Themed “Youth taking actions toward a people-centered urban future”, the Urban Youth Meeting is an official parallel event on the occasion of the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom3) of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), in which ICLEI was actively involved in. It took place on the day before the official proceedings, organized by Indonesian civil society organizations in partnership with the City of Surabaya and UNTAG University, with support from UN Habitat.

Mr. Marvin Lagonera, Project Officer at ICLEI Southeast Asia Secretariat (ICLEI SEAS), gave the opening remarks and served as a panel discussant during the parallel session on the topic of “Youth, Cities and Disaster Risk/Climate Change”, which was co-hosted by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The session gathered a range of experts to discuss youth participation and impact in climate change-resilient cities and disaster risk reduction and develop an effective response.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Lagonera highlighted the importance of the event in bringing together global youth leaders in mapping out the youth agenda on two of the most transformative trends of the century, urbanization and global climate change. He highlighted the vulnerable situation of young people and children, especially in developing countries, who could suffer from the impact of disasters, storms, and extreme temperatures on education, psychological health, and nutrition. He cited for instance that rising temperatures could lead to a wide range of health issues including higher rates of malnutrition, cholera, dengue and malaria.

As such, Mr. Lagonera challenged the youth leaders to think about how the New Urban Agenda can empower the youth, especially the most vulnerable groups including children and the young population. He stressed that the youth, being “dynamic, energetic and creative”, should use the skills, tools, and technologies they possess to revolutionize global actions and strategies.

A copy of the speech is uploaded here.

The session was co-chaired by Ms. Gita Yulianti Suwandi S.T., Head Section Risk Management, Sub Directorate, Disaster Prevention, Indonesian Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) and Ms. Malashree Bhargava, UNV DRR Specialist, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)-Indonesia. Other speakers included Ms. Angeli Alba, Communications Officer, Habitat for Humanity International for Asia-Pacific; and Ms. Hind Sadik, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Disaster Reduction Youth Volunteer Network-Myanmar. The session ended with the youth participants tackling possible action points on Education and Training, Community Level Engagement and Implementation, and Institutional Policy and Arrangements.

The youth has always played a crucial role in ICLEI’s advocacy. In 2014, ICLEI hosted the first Youth and Mayors Forum on Climate and Sustainability in New York in collaboration with UN Major Group Children and Youth. The forum was aimed at creating an opportunity of dialogue of the youth and ambitious local leaders. For the first time, mayors from five continents met with youth groups across the world. The meeting has inspired new ideas of collaboration which will be announced at Habitat III in Quito.

Among others, ICLEI has also launched in 2012 the FutureCityLeaders Initiative. It is a global network and capacity-building program for young elected municipal leaders. Through this initiative, ICLEI has been connecting and empowering the next generation of local decision-makers to realize tangible local action for global sustainability.

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