April 24, 2013

The Quest For Sustainable Cities; The UN-HABITAT 24th Governing Council

Some of the delegates at the conference

The 24th United Nation Human Settlements Programme UNHABITATGC24 was held in the United Nation Office in Nairobi UNON- Kenya from the 15th to the 19th April 2013 under the theme of Sustainable Urban Development: The Role of Cities In Creating Improved Economic Opportunities For All, With Special Reference To Youth and Gender. The governing council was a biennial meeting attended by members of the United Nations, the United Nations organizations including specific agencies, the Habitat agenda partners, intergovernmental organizations, Local authorities, and non-governmental organizations; a total of 1144 delegates from 107 countries attended the meeting. The UNHABITAT director Joan Clos and the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta opened the meeting creating a lot of forwardness looking in the coming days of the meeting. The meeting began on a high note recognizing the young people and women that is the UHNABITAT Youth Unit and women unit for taking part in the Governing Council. 

The Conference started on a high note highlighting the need to create Sustainable cities since the world is moving toward urban life and there was need to improve cities lives, Cities are becoming interdependent and similar in away because of networking and there was need to encourage Local Authorities, national governments regional and international bodies to create more networking opportunities. The meeting also Highlighted inclusivity and diversifying leadership for a sustainable future. It was noticed that migration to cities still creates gettorization, women and youth being the majority victims. Women and youth are the majority population and if they are neglected this causes Urban crisis a good example brought by the Somali delegate deputy Major of Mogadishu, Iman Nur Icar “The word Shaabab means youth and if they are neglected they organize themselves and carry out bandit business” his calls out for inclusion of youth and women in building the future cities we want; they are not only leaders of tomorrow but they lead now in building a sustainable future. Women and young people are also policy implementers and the need to include them in policy making will stop distance decay between the Policy conductors and implementers. For effective planning there should be a harmonious relation btw the two parties which are implementers and formulators. The meeting also highlighted the need to enhance diversity and inclusion at local, national, regional and global level including harmonizing the relationship between civil societies and governments; this relation will help in bringing comprehensive development. The need for networking with different entities creates an opportunity for diversifying leadership and inclusivity. 

Economic issues came on the table and academics highlighted that majority of women in the Global south still cannot access capital this makes it had for women to reflect in the world’s economy. Land is very crucial issues as public land still have a question. There is need for legal land policies which will sustain public land financial mechanism. Urbanization resolution will only be achieved if societies come from tilling the land to levying land.

The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines “youth,” as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, approximately one billion youth live in the world today. This means that one person in five is between the age of 15 and 24 years, or 18% of the world’s populations are "youth", and children (5-14 years) comprise of 19.8%, by the year 2025 the population of rural-urban migration will increase and majority will be women and youth; this calls for their inclusion in decision making. The majority (almost 85%) of the world’s youth live in developing countries, with approximately 60 percent in Asia alone. A remaining 23 percent live in the developing regions of Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. By 2025, the number of youth living in developing countries will grow to 89.5%. Therefore, it is necessary to take youth issues into considerations in the development agenda and policies of each country. There are efforts already made in building sustainable cities and yet extra miles effort is still are still needed. The United Nation system has made tireless efforts to include young people in decision making since 1948 the Universal declaration for human rights. 

Democracy is the best form of governance when it comes to youth engagement in the decision making. Open systems will create an environment for young people to take part in leadership. Today we have the youth structure at the united nation tabling the youth agenda. During the UNHABITAT 24th governing council the UNHABITAT youth unit Youth Advisory Board YAB, comprising of representatives of all regions across the world organized youth forums and also participating at the high level meeting rubbing shoulders with policy makers to influence decisions. Emphases were made on the use of Information Communication and Technology ICT as a tool to create change. Through ICT a network of young people can be used to handle both common and different challenges facing the young population across the globe. YAB emphasized on the use of ICT as a means of communication and engagement in the quest for positive change. ICT has made the world a global village this helps the world population to communicate across the globe and it is sustainable as compared to physical meetings
The GC24 conference recognized the Government of Brazil’s hosting of the High Level Panel on Youth at Rio +20 through which the final declaration supports the ongoing work on UN-Habitat and the Youth 21 initiative in developing processes to better engage youth within the UN system. The Norwegian government has supported the Young people and adults share joint responsibility on the advisory board to The UN-HABITAT Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-led Development established in 2009 including the YOUTH21 which was launched in Oslo in 2011.  The federal Government  of Nigeria and Ondo State in Nigeria  contributed USD 5 million to United Nation human settlement Programme; the USD 2 million from Ondo State government  will be used to help different programmes including youth empowerment, slum grading local economic enterprises and land reforms. Nigeria has also taken the lead in Africa in tabling youth policy at the national level; this is a legal framework to bring the youth in decision making table. A lot of private sector also shown interest in supporting the initiative this includes the Chandaria industries in Kenya, Baden Aniline and Soda Factory, BSF from Germany. 

The Governing council brought resolutions and highlighted the need to create structures, strategies and dialogue initiative which will support sustainable cities. Several resolutions were adopted after five days of intense discussions and negotiations impacting positively on the work of UN-Habitat and the lives of millions of urban dwellers.

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