YOUTHAB is a Latin American and Caribbean Youth Movement Against Climate Change (CLIC! – in Spanish) project led by the Ecuador team. CLIC! is based in eleven countries across the Latin American and Caribbean region. YOUTHAB has partnered with UN-Habitat and a number of key international NGOs such as Plan International, Scouts, AIESEC and World Vision.
In early June 2015, three young Ecuadorians with similar backgrounds in, and links to, environmental issues came together to imagine what the outcome and possibilities would be of creating spaces and processes for youth participation not only in Ecuador but across the region and the world. With the goal to motivate young people to engage in decision-making, ensuring that their voices aspirations for their cities, their neighbourhoods, or their communities are heard.
Currently, the YOUTHAB project has a team of twenty-two volunteers from diverse and multi-disciplinary educational backgrounds and nationalities, all are based in Ecuador. In addition, these agents of change also live in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. We represent a vast gamma of nations, gender, and ideologies, which allows us to conceive the realisation of the diverse city.
YOUTHAB is a process of collaborative, collective, and inclusive participation of young people, which seeks an inclusive, resilient, and fair habitat. Those of us who comprise YOUTHAB, see and feel the city as a laboratory of ideas, comprised of space spaces where we come together, where we learn, where we surprise ourselves, and where we meet to generate change. This magnificent lab belongs to the people, and in particular to young people.
We influence the city, collaboratively producing knowledge and transparent data to encourage innovation and social development. We call brainstorming interventions by bringing people together to meet and socialise in their local neighbourhoods or cafes and discuss cities the problems and challenges that rapid urbanisation causes. These brainstorming interventions have taken place in Quito, Ibarra, Cuenca, and Toluca among friends with common objectives. To date, we have engaged 800 people on issues relating to the New Urban Agenda. At the same time, we conduct open youth consultations at the national, rural and urban levels, in order to gauge the youth perspective on issues of culture, migration, mobility, and/or technology.
One of the most important milestones in this process will be the organization of the World Youth Conference on Habitat and the Right to the City. The YOUTHAB Conference is framed within the context of the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) and will be held from 13 to October 15, 2016, in Quito, Ecuador. During this process we seek to agree on a global action-based declaration conceived by young people; develop a monitoring mechanism, which we have dubbed the “Pledge with my Local Authority”; and the development of the “Active Labs”, creative spaces across the city of Quito with the collaboration of the Local Authority of Quito. UN-Habitat will undertake a few project during the YoutHAB be launching with AIESEC international the #UrbanAction campaign which will promote youth action for the New Urban Agenda and urban SDGs.
Why did a group of civil society youth actors dare to develop this project? Because urbanisation is an issue of shared responsibility. We are the latest generation that can generate positive change and have a significant impact, by employing tools at our disposal. We must act now! We have to empower our cities, parks, squares, push for the means of transport we want, empower public spaces, and we have a responsibility to act now!
The next generation will not have the same opportunities to bring change, for them it will be too late. We have chosen to act and with volunteers working to making the YOUTHAB project a reality, we have chosen to contribute, to come together, and to build a platform that will elevate the participation or youth in city and urban and rural linkages issues and challenges.
There may have been times you felt the need to take action and realise an exciting idea worth fighting for, at which point you may have thought: I am alone, no one will listen, or no one will care. We believe that you are not alone, change is in your hands #JovenesRepensandoLaCuidad (Youth rethinking the City)!
Ana Cristina Benalcazar
Project Coordinator Youthab