We want our rights, we don’t want fighting and conflict. We don’t want religious differences, we want peace because we are all humans, said a young voice, originally from Myanmar, at the opening session, Hard Talk, of the Children’s Assembly hosted at WUF9 yesterday.
The goal of the Children’s Assembly was to create ‘safe, smart and inclusive cities for all’. The four interesting hands-on sessions promoted thinking, building and doing. Approximately 130 children from age-group 10-16 participated at this event proving that, when provided with appropriate platforms and space, children are able to articulate emerging issues and innovative solutions impacting their lives, neighbourhoods and cities.
Throughout the day, young people from diverse backgrounds across the world enthusiastically contributed to panel discussions suggesting practical solutions for planning a sustainable city. During the concurrent sessions that focused on building and creating future cities for all, children shared ideas, strategies and creativity highlighting the critical need for equity, empowerment and inclusion. As truth tellers and observers of their environment, the young people strongly requested to share their knowledge with adults and contribute to safe and smart cities. They identified issues of escalating crime, living in fear, dangers related to traffic and transport, lack of green and clean public spaces and built environment, industrial smoke and pollution, not being counted as citizens.
They made bold recommendations such as everyone’s basic health, safety and well-being needs should be met, that schools should provide not just education but also place and time to play, to create friendships, promote peace and social cohesion. As a technology savvy generation, they explained what a good school and neighbourhood could look like in a smart city including the use of technology to enhance safety, health and wellbeing of all citizens.
The Children Assembly once again proved young generation to be knowledge assets and key resource of their cities and local urban environments, demonstrating their capability to be active participants in the design, implementation and review process of the New Urban Agenda.
The event was organised by Youth section, UN-Habitat, UNMGCY & partners from child focused agencies. The day was supported by UNICEF, Plan International, Urban Synergies Group, International Play Association and several Malaysian Civil society and child rights Agencies.