Around the World Cities are Changing. Get Involved!
Cities are growing and becoming more and more urbanized. More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and cities that have the highest rate of urbanization also have the highest population of youth. Urbanisation brings opportunities and challenges. It can bring economic and social development, but this doesn’t always improve the quality of life for residents, and development isn’t always sustainable.
Today cities occupy just 3% of the world’s land area, but equate for 75% of global energy consumption; with inadequate and unsustainable services and infrastructure, they expose residents to pollution and congestion. Urbanization also increases the number of slum dwellers;, currently one seventh of the world’s population live in slum areas. Rather than protecting those residing within, cities are often risk-drivers that increase one’s vulnerability to disaster.
Throughout history, urbanization has been a component of development; a driver of opportunities and innovation, but also of poverty and exclusion. Today it becomes necessary to adopt planning that places humans and their collective impact on the environment at the center of cities once again. The large amount of residents living in urban slum areas underline the importance of addressing employment opportunities, not least of all for the next generation, youth.
Habitat III will be one of the first global conferences after the post 2015 development agenda. It provides an opportunity to create a new model of sustainable urban development; to promote resilience, solidarity, equality and respect for the environment.
The international community is aware of the importance of sustainability in development, but this cannot be realized without young people. We are drivers of sustainability. As young people we don’t just experience our environments; we transform them. As custodians of tomorrow’s cities, as current occupants and leaders, we know that we will live out tomorrow with the decisions made today; making us more responsible and forward thinking in our decision making. Youth participation in policy writing and decision making for our future is not a privilege, but our fundamental right. It is also for the benefit of all future generations that we participate.
To better organize the participation and representation of youth, the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY), as the official space for young people to engage in the intergovernmental negotiations, has a dedicated Working Group to address ‘The New Urban Agenda’. The group is already engaged in a global effort to gather the input of young people and bring them into the process, but representing children and youth in all its diversity through a strong collective vision for a universal agenda is an ambitious task. We need everyone to join and take ownership.
Are you an individual under 30? Do you represent a youth-led organisation or work for an organisation with a mandate to work with youth or children? Are you passionate about urbanisation? If so, join the youth movement working towards Habitat III! Sign up here for the mailing list to get all the updates and share your ideas!
Let’s show the world that young people have the capacity to transform our cities!
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