UN-Habitat’s Youth and Livelihoos Unit
UN-Habitat embraces the concept of youth-led development which places youth at the center of their development. The Youth and Livelihood Unit at UN-Habitat is one of the longest standing youth programmes within the United Nations system as per the following Governing Council resolution on youth.
The Unit was established in 2003 as the Partners and Youth Unit.
One of the longest-standing youth programmes within the UN system.
We work closely with local, provincial and national governments as well as private sector.
To improve urban strategies, policies and practices through evidence-based practices that promote inclusive economic development and sustainable livelihoods for urban youth, women, displaced populations, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.
To improve the livelihoods of youth, by creating urban policies and programmes supportive of improved employment and sustainable livelihoods with a focus on urban youth and women, displaced populations, people with disabilities, youth living in conflict post-conflict cities and other vulnerable populations.
Describing the strategic areas of focus:
Youth and Public Space: Advocating for and implement inclusive planning and public space for youth.
Livelihoods: Integrating youth into the economic and social fabric of cities globally.
Governance: Developing methods and promoting policies which assure youth’s engagement in governance, especially at the local level, and the development of rules, regulations and laws which support youth.
Housing: Advocate for an inclusive and integrated approach housing and slum upgrading in order to reduce social inequalities and strengthen drive towards sustainable urban development for youth.
Urban Basic Services: provide policy and technical support to local governments on water, sanitation, waste management, mobility, and energy from a youth perspective.
Leveraging Partnership in order to enhance awareness on an integrated approach to urban youth development and mainstream a focus on the youth in the normative and operational activities within the UN system we need to continue to enhance our strategic partnerships with key stakeholders including youth, youth serving agencies, local and national Governments, donors and other UN agencies.
Youth mainstreaming and Capacity Development in order to provide a platform for youth to contribute with inputs to all the major policy processes in the UN by participating and organizing international events and major conferences on youth-related issues. This area also includes evidence-based policies, investments, training and workshops for youth-led initiatives and programmes.
Continue to develop normative and standard setting instruments such as publications on best practices for youth development, issues papers on youth development, international agreements, declarations and evidence-based policies designed to address youth social needs and issues.
Knowledge transfer and management in order to mainstream an integrated and evidence-based approach to urban youth development through a number of publications, substantive contributions to the agency official documents, and issue papers on specific thematic areas.
The Youth and Livelihood Unit, also identifies youth peace and security, and youth migration, as the other main areas of work.
Positive Youth-led Development (PYD) is a strength-based and resilience-oriented philosophy that recognizes the impact of multiple environments (e.g. neighbourhood, school, community, etc.) on youth development and highlights that each young person can develop and transition through key developmental stages into adulthood positively when engaged with the right opportunities, support, and relationships.
- PYD is focused on pro-social skill development, relationship building, and community engagement.
- Youth engagement in services and programming is key to Positive Youth Development.
UN-Habitat Youth framework is rooted in Positive Youth-led Development (PYD), a strength-based and resilience-oriented philosophy that recognizes the impact of multiple environments (e.g. neighbourhood, school, community, etc.) on youth development. PYD also recognizes that each young person can develop and transition into adulthood positively, and through key developmental stages, when engaged with the right opportunities, supports, and relationships.
PYD is focused on pro-social skill development and relationship building, and community engagement. Youth engagement in services and programming is key to Positive Youth Development.
The UN-Habitat Youth framework is also based on Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), an approach that focuses on the strength and potential of communities to drive their own sustainable development. The approach necessitates a thorough analysis of the community context, the strengths and resources of the community and the priority issues for that community. The method then encourages the use of the communities’ own resources to achieve their development objectives. 
- a process of conducting a youth sensitive analysis to make sure that the conceptualization phase of initiatives takes into account youth’s interests and needs aiming at decreasing societal inequalities;
- Joint implementation of youth programmes within UN-Habitat and across the UN system.
- UN-Habitat mainstreams youth in two different ways. First, it works directly with organs of the agency: branches, units and regional and country offices and through the Project Advisor Group in the application of the YM–in a process of conducting a youth sensitive analysis in the conceptualization phase of initiatives, taking into account youth interests and needs aiming at decreasing societal inequalities. The primary focus of planned activities should assure that youth interests have been accounted for in order to ensure there are no negative impacts on youth as a consequence of UN-Habitat’s intervention. Second, UN-Habitat mainstreams youth through joint youth programmes within UN-Habitat and across the UN system.
Theory of Change (ToC)
We have identified the following pillars needed to achieve change:
o Youth need well planned urban public cities;
o Youth need to be actively engaged in local governance as key stakeholders in decisions that affect their future; and
o Youth need urban policies and strategies that support local economic development and creation of decent jobs and livelihoods for young women and men in urban settings.
o Youth need access to adequate housing and improve the standards of those living in slums.
o Youth need equitable access to urban basic services, especially those living marginalized communities.
The Theory of Change is based upon evidence from within UN-Habitat and the wider field. Zeldin (2004, 2004) demonstrates that increasing youth engagement in local and community governance has a positive impact on development, whilst reducing rates of delinquency. Furthermore, improving employment and sustainable livelihoods for young people can be both a preventative measure and curative measure for countries in conflict, as demonstrated by the World Bank. Finally, Derr and colleagues argue that integrating youth into city planning has a positive impact the use and social benefits of city planning.
This success of this Theory of Change is evident in positive outcomes of mainstreaming and targeted programming, as reflected in the Mid-term Evaluation of the UN-Habitat Strategic Plan and the 2016 MOPAN Evaluation.
Defining an identity (Who are we?)
- The Unit was established in 2003 as the Partners and Youth Unit.
- One of the longest-standing youth programmes within the UN system.
- We work closely with local, provincial and national governments as well as private sector.
5 key areas of focus:
- Public Space
- Urban Basic Services
Building Blocks of Youth Straegic Plan
- UN-Habitat Strategic Plan 2014-19
- Situational Analysis
- Defining an identity
- Defining the Future
- Performance Measurement plan
- Operationalizing the Plan
- Results Framework
- Implementing the Plan
- Leveraging Partnership
- Youth mainstreaming and Capacity Development
- Continue to develop normative and standard setting instruments
- Knowledge transfer and management
- promoting youth role in peace and security
Theory of Change (ToC)
- Planned urban public cities;
- Creation of decent jobs and livelihoods
- Urban basic services
- Strategic Result
- City, regional and national authorities have adopted or implemented improved urban policies, strategies and programmes that support local economic development and creation of decent jobs and livelihoods for young women and men in urban settings.
- Performance Indicators
- Expected Accomplishments
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|UN-Habitat Liaison Office|
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