On the way to creating a new urban agenda


Come 2016, the world is getting ready to establish a new urban agenda at the Habitat III meeting. Urban challenges and possibilities are all about youth and our livelihood. Lets make the new urban agenda a youth agenda.

Habitat III
In 2016 the UN-­conference on housing and sustainable development, Habitat III will set a new urban agenda, deciding what the governing principles for urban practice and development will be. It will reinforce the commitments made at Habitat II in Istanbul in 1996, and adapt the agenda to current reality and projections for the future. Habitat III will also be the first UN conference discussing the implementation of the post 2015-­agenda, the new development goals.

Habitat III is about creating progressive and universal goals for urban practice, but creating a new urban agenda is also about how this is implemented in national and local governance structures. In order to set good goals that can actually be implemented, the process needs to be an inclusive one from start to finish, and then ensuring lasting participation in the implementation, meaning good and inclusive governance structures- on international, regional, national and local level.

Urban youth
More than 18 per cent of today’s world population, are between the ages of 15 and 24, the UN definition of youth. 87 per cent of these live in developing countries. A growing number of youth live in urban areas. Youth in urban areas often lack access to housing, transportation and other basic services and have unequal access to opportunities for education, training, employment, and recreation. In other words, increasing numbers of young people live in cities where they face difficult economic, political and social challenges. The amount and scope of urban issues concerning youth are alarming, and it will be essential to address them in a new urban agenda. Youth then, must have a key role in creating and implementing the new urban agenda.

National Habitat reports
The process leading up towards Habitat III will be initiated by all member states creating a national report on best urban practices and challenges. The general assembly, through its resolution 67/216, paragraph 11, encouraged this process to include “…the active participation of all relevant stakeholders…”, stating that in writing this report, the national governments are strongly advised to have a broad inclusion of all stakeholders, including youth. The report is due on the 30th on june this year, and although the practice of creating the report will vary from country to country, youth participation needs to be a main focus for all.

Although 30th of june is right around the corner there is still a huge potential for youth and youth organization to give their input before it is finalized. We need to stress the importance of giving input on this specific report because the reports will be the basis for further work on the agenda. Come september the first preparatory committee for Habitat III will be held, and from here on it will only narrow down, and it will be extremely hard to get new thoughts added.

Most countries will probably facilitate some form of consultation, but unfortunately these consultations are not always as inclusive they should be-­ not reaching out to all relevant stakeholders, lack of practical information and done in a bit of a hurry a few weeks before the report is due, making it harder for the parts giving input to find the time and resources to do it. This is of course not the case for all, but it will be for some.

Inclusive consultations or not-­ give your input. National ministries have e-­mail addresses, mailboxes, facebook pages-­ you will be able to give your input even though you are not formally invited to.

In order to be able to get your organizations goals in the new urban agenda it should to be on the table for this first round. If youth are mobilized to give their input on the national report, it will send strong message on how important youth issues and participation is for the new urban agenda.

And then..?

Whats next you say? There will be three preparatory committee meetings which will discuss the agenda, one in september 2014, one in april 2015 and one right before Habitat III in 2016. Youth need to have a strong presence on all three, but also in between, pushing our governments to push the youth agenda. How? Lets discuss that further. In the meantime, get your best practices and ideas down on paper and push that youth agenda like never before. It is our urban future, let us be the one to create it.

Tone Vesterhus
Norwegian youth delegate on urbanization

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