Children and youth are agents of change, not just beneficiaries in the New Urban Agenda

Children and youth are agents of change, not just beneficiaries in the New Urban Agenda

World Vision International (CC)

In New York, the General Assembly of Partners, a key umbrella group in the Habitat III process, gathered together during the informal hearings for major stakeholders to respond to the Zero Draft of The New Urban Agenda.

As Co-Chair of the General Assembly of Partners’ Children and Youth Constituent Group, World Vision endorsed and commended the rights-based and people centred approach applied throughout the New Urban Agenda. However, given the heightened vulnerabilities of children in urban contexts, the organisation highlighted several areas where the Zero Draft could consider further elaboration.

“Children from poor families are often forced into hazardous work. The New Urban Agenda does not adequately address the issue of child labour in the informal economy. The link between access to quality education and opportunities for decent livelihoods must be considered and strategies should be in place to ensure the urban poor and youth transition from the informal economy” stated Joyati Das, Senior Director of World Vision International’s Global Urban Programmes.

“We call for safer environments for children to be protected from abuse and exploitation. The right to child friendly spaces, accessible and walkable spaces. Wasted space is wasted asset of the city. Clean, green, liveable space is critical for health and well-being of children and youth. Municipalities must consider at least 40% of public space is designated to public parks, safe community space, schools, and area for basic services for the poor.”

World Vision expressed concerns that children and youth are still identified throughout the Agenda as mere beneficiaries. “They have a right to the city and have skills to offer. They should be identified as a key resource and agent of change to drive social, political, technological, and economic transformation in the city.”

“Children and youth are the local knowledge bearers of the city. They must be given access to platforms where they are able to contribute their local knowledge to public debate and discussions. Schools need to ensure such platforms are created and accessible.”

The New Urban Agenda will lack legitimacy and remain a celebratory and aspirational document if concrete actions are not proposed for a roadmap moving forward. It will require principles of complementarity and a multi-disciplinary approach to co-operation.

Hence, to implement and monitor the success of the New Urban Agenda, The General Assembly of Partners’ Children and Youth Constituent Group proposes a global alliance of child focused agencies as a knowledge network to promote the Urban SDG#11, especially focusing on the most vulnerable and marginalised.

Photo Credits: World Vision International (CC)