SEA youth share youth engagement perspectives and youth-led urban solutions on global stage

Multi-sectoral representatives led by the youth and government from Bandung in Indonesia and from Baguio and Naga in the Philippines on 27-28 October 2023 shared their insights on youth engagement and youth-led solutions to urban safety challenges in a hybrid global event.

Held as part of the global Safe and Sound (S²Cities) programme launched in Indonesia on 2022 and in the Philippines earlier this year, the S²Cities Global Convening 2023 event brought together youth, local government representatives, private sector, and civil society actors from six programme cities across Indonesia, Philippines, Colombia, and Ecuador.

“In a time when technology and innovation have significant influence over our common goals, we recognize the urgent need to harness the untapped potential of our youth today. Their participation in the Safe and Sound Cities programme has been transformative. They have been empowered to take ownership of their environment and contribute to its safety, instilling a sense of empowerment and civic mindedness through various activities,” shared Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong during the event.

Through a mix of in-person, online, and Virtual Reality (VR) sessions, the two-day Convening aimed to foster cross-regional and multisectoral learning exchange to further the S²Cities programme’s thrust of improving young people’s safety and well-being in urban environments.

Local in-person activities across the three program cities saw multi-sectoral exchanges regarding topics on safety and sustainable urbanization, specifically on the critical role the youth play in local development. Meanwhile, regional virtual reality panel discussions innovatively brought together participants from across the region and across the world via Oculus/Meta Quest 2 VR headsets.

Asked about their experiences with the S²Cities programme Ellen Nicole Vergara, current Youth Mayor of the Naga City Youth Officials program,  said “We were able to go from village to village to conduct community listening sessions with youth subsectors. The youth were asked of their experiences, opinions, and stories regarding the issues and concerns they are facing in our city, and they wished to have solutions for.”

“Through the S²Cities programme, we have a supportive environment which can help us sharpen our ideas and implement our innovations. We have developed skills on project planning, team management, and sustainability-oriented thinking,” shared Indira, an S²Cities youth innovation fellow from Bandung City.

One of the highlights of the 2023 Convening was the official launch of the S²Cities Global Learning Network—a network of cities, young people, private sector actors and other stakeholders committed to the advancement of inclusive urban development. , including a total of 12 from both Indonesia and the Philippines, were able to meet, collaborate, and share insights about urban safety issues and their solutions with other cities and other members.

On-demand replays of the events are available via the official S2Cities YouTube channel.

S²Cities is an initiative proudly led by the Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation, in partnership with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, hosted by Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, and supported by Fondation Botnar.

It is implemented in Bandung by the World Resources Institute – Indonesia; in Baguio by the Cordilleran Youth Center; and in Naga by the WeSolve Foundation, Inc.

For more information on the S²Cities programme, please visit

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