Intervention For Habitat III Prepcom 1

MGCY Intervention for Habitat III Preparatory Meeting 1

18th of September 2014, UN Headquarters, New York

Dear Excellencies,

Thank you for this opportunity to speak as the Major Group of Children and Youth on behalf of children, youth and future generations who will inherit this new agenda and live in cities that don’t exist today.

A new urban agenda that is ready to tackle the challenges we face today will have to be tailored to deliver on the ambitious new development agenda we are seeking to design. How we plan our existing cities and address the issue of new cities will determine what SDGs are fulfilled and who is left behind. This list cannot include anyone, especially women and young people. The agenda needs to go beyond its focus on just Urban, and focus on an agenda for human settlements everywhere.

The deliverables should focus on

First and foremost- Meaningful and inclusive participation

Meaningful youth engagement in all decision-making functions related to planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all policies related to the agenda. This is the basic minimum for cities and human settlements to deliver on sustainable development by being inclusive and representative of the needs of its people. Meaningful participation goes hand in hand with good governance. Youth participation needs to have a place in the local as well as in national, regional and global governance structures for it to have the effect we need. In urban planning, securing youth participation in the local governance is essential, including in decision making and monitoring.

Truly sustainable development is only possible within cities that are inclusive and representative of the needs and priorities of its people.

Historically, youth have not been seen as a demographic important enough to engage with. This can no longer be the case in the new urban agenda. We are too many, too vulnerable, and too desirous of a good future. We will not be excluded. We are not just victims of ill-conceived policies, but part of the solution.

We know we will have to continue to work hard to ensure young people and children, in all OUR diversity, are represented within the process going forward until and beyond 2016, and trust that we have your commitment to ensuring our full and inclusive participation. Specific mechanisms need to be established for Major Groups and stakeholders involvement leading up to and following the Habitat III.

Youth participation is not a one off event, with a hand picked young person talking about a subject decision makers defines as a youth issue. Youth participation needs to be representative, independent and with emphasis on the whole political process.

Secondly, there should be a focus on enhancing livability for all people of all ages and all abilities everywhere.

This includes rights to affordable housing- All people irrespective of any status and income level are entitled to a right to decent housing. This includes the human right to water and sanitation.

Mobility is different from the mere presence of a public transport system that checks a box. A focus on regular, reliable, safe, integrated, sustainable and easily accessible public transport system is vital.

Equitable access to public space is not a privilege for the few, but a human right for all people. The way in which our cities are planned and resulting policies implemented determines who gets access to public space and infrastructure. We must design and develop cities that ensure this equal access, through good governance structures that includes the voices of all relevant stakeholders.

If cities are where over half the world’s population is already living, then how they are planned becomes critical to the health of those people. Planning and redevelopment that takes into account the healthcare needs of the inhabitants should not be a concept in need of convincing. This should be a focus on prevention, access and treatment.

Skill development, access to quality education (formal, informal and non formal) and education for sustainable development and lifestyles is the means through which people will implement this new agenda.

Thirdly, cities and all settlements are all also the battle ground where we will fight climate change and other adverse effect of crossing the earth’s planetary boundaries.

Both mitigation and adaptation that build environmental, physical and psychosocial resilience are the primary attributes that need to be fully integrated into this agenda.

These issues must be tackled in a cohesive and system wide approach. They are all crucial factors in enhancing the livability of our cities. Livability and prosperity are not possible without creating environment friendly cities. We want to see a urban agenda that puts environmentally sustainable development at its heart.

If a city runs out of drinking water, is engulfed in smog, cannot produce food, or simply submerges because of a rise in sea level is not is not an option. Economics cannot succeed in a city that does ceases to exist, and there are no jobs and human life in an ecologically dead concrete jungle.

Additionally, just because half the population lives in cities, does not mean we ignore the other half. Non-urban habitations are also human settlements and face the same challenges. A mechanism for productive and mutually benefitting links will only makes us all stronger.

The new urban agenda will seek to solve the problems of how and where humans live in a way that maximizes their holistic human development and minimizes their ecological footprint.

The only way to achieve that is through dialog, participation and partnerships with the people living in the city/ these places, including youth and children. Nothing about us without us.  🙂 !!!!

PDF Available here-


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