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“The City You Need, the World they want”-UN Habitat III conference insights!

Urban youth face unprecedented challenges, from climate change to unemployment to multiple forms of inequalities and exclusion, particularly for youth belonging to vulnerable or marginalized groups. To provide an open space for critical exchange between urban researchers, professionals and decision makers who believe that urbanization is an opportunity and can lead to positive urban transformations, the UN Habitat III organized a conference in Nairobi.

The UN Habitat III Urban Youth Campus conference took place on 10th and 11th February 2016, at the United Nations Office in Nairobi, Kenya. It brought together key partners and stakeholders that support urban youth initiatives as well as 173 youth from diverse backgrounds to voice their ideas. I was privileged to be part of this conference.

Objectives

The conference, dubbed “The City You Need, the World they want”, was part of a series of other 25 Urban Thinkers Campus’ held between June 2015 and February 2016. The following were its objectives; 

  •  To recognize and build on young people’s present capacities and the valuable contributions they are already making.
  • To recognize and listen to youth voices and respond to their challenges and priorities, touching on human rights, migration, displacement, conflict and post-conflict areas, disaster and risk reduction and refugees
  • To examine existing policies and programmes so as to assess the extent to which they are sufficiently oriented towards creating a better urban future.
  • To make recommendations to the UN-Habitat with respect to the ways that it engages with and exercises its mandate in relations to urban youth especially in developing countries and its engagement with youth in its efforts  towards the new urban agenda.

Thematic areas

We were allowed time to openly discuss and learn, share and debate of preselected themes; Youth and Urban Governance; Youth and Livelihoods; Youth and Urban Planning/Public spaces; Youth and Risk reduction and Rehabilitation; and Youth and environment. All the participants deliberated on these themes and outputs provided in Kenya would be used together with those from other conferences conducted in build up to the main event (To take place in Quito ).

Best insights as a Ypardian

The subthemes tackled under the Youth and environment theme lie squarely within what YPARD promotes; Youth and Agriculture; Climate change; Renewable energy and Green jobs. Under these subthemes, participants discussed challenges affecting the youth and gave recommendations.

Youth and Agriculture

As brought forward by the participants, the challenges facing youth in agriculture include; a poor mindset, climate change, lack of access to quality and timely information, insufficient access to financial services, Lack of involvement in policy dialogues and customary laws. Participants brought forward suggestions on how to address these challenges as; Mindset change among the youth, amendment of inheritance laws, provision of credit facilities to youth, youth inclusion in policy dialogues and implementation of policies.

Climate change

The challenges emerging in this sector included; lack of awareness on environmental conservation, nationalization of environmental programs which render them ineffective(Case of Kenya), insufficient finance in capacity building with regards to climate change and environmental conservation and constant and ongoing deforestation, trees being the major source of energy. In tackling them, participants suggested that; individuals should use alternative sources of clean energy as well as taking up individual responsibility on environmental conservation and waste recycling at more extensive levels.

Renewable energy and Green jobs

Some of the challenges that hinder the youth from adopting green energy include; high costs of equipment and lack of knowledge in this field. To tackle them, it was suggested that taxes be excluded from equipment that promote renewable energy (solar panels), to encourage expandability of the practice.

The UN Habitat III Urban Youth Campus conference, being part of a series of other 25 Urban Thinkers Campus’ was very informative and to keep track on what is unfolding visit here.