Historic first for children’s inclusion in Habitat process, now what next?

Historic first for children’s inclusion in Habitat process, now what next?

 “We want to tell the distinguished authorities to pay close attention to everything children say,” said boldly, Emily Daniela – a 10 year old from Ecuador - in a powerful speech delivered before delegates during the opening session of the Children and Youth Assembly at the Habitat III Conference last month.

“We don’t want any drugs, violence, or alcohol around anymore. We want a world that is full of love, and no more hate; let’s work together… Remember that this is not just a matter affecting the country’s children, but involves everyone…. We must go build our own city, the city of our dreams.”

The Habitat III Conference was only the third time in history where global leaders and urbanists have gathered to discuss the world’s cities, and the first time where children’s voices and their calls for action were included in the Habitat process. During the event, World Vision led/co-led the Children and Youth Assembly, Children and Youth Roundtable, a Networking Event, as well as featured as a panellist speaker at several partners’ events, including Arcadis’ side event on the role of the Urban Thinkers Campuses and the City We Need in implementing the New Urban Agenda.

To identify issues, priorities and recommendations for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, the Children and Youth Assembly brought together over 100 children and adolescents from Ecuador, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, India and Indonesia from local, regional and global child and youth serving agencies. The Assembly, the first of its kind in the Habitat process, aimed to provide a formal platform for current citizens and future leaders to propose solutions that can contribute to cities that children need.

Children demanded access to quality education, safe public spaces, and protection from urban violence. They demanded neighbourhoods free from drugs, violence, alcohol and access to green and walkable spaces and playgrounds that are environment friendly and managed efficiently. These solutions were captured in a Children’s Charter and presented to Dr Joan Clos, Secretary General of Habitat III and city government authorities at the closing press conference of the Habitat III Conference, as well as shared during the Children and Youth Roundtable.

With nearly 170 countries adopting the New Urban Agenda, governments are seeking local partners and solutions to support the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Leveraging the momentum from Habitat III, there are more opportunities for World Urban Campaign members to reach out to their local governments, local branches of respective U.N. agencies, private sector and civil society to contribute to making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

“The Urban Thinkers Campuses will provide an important ongoing mechanism for dialogue and discourse on urban issues and solutions to inform the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda,” stated Joyati Das, Senior Director of World Vision International’s Global Urban Programmes during Arcadis’ side event.

“As a lead partner in the World Urban Campaign, World Vision will continue to bring its practical knowledge about local issues to contribute to urban solutions. We have developed a Cities for Children Framework that focuses on safe, healthy, resilient cities for children. Central to this framework is the principle of justice, equity and inclusion. The Framework was developed through five years of research, which addresses the issues and vulnerabilities included in the New Urban Agenda.” Read World Vision’s ‘Making Sense of the City’ Report, which captures the lessons and recommendations from this research.

World Vision International is delighted to be elected into the World Urban Campaign’s Standing Committee, representing children and youth. The organisation is committed to bringing children’s voices and solutions to the campaign’s work and engaging partners from the public and private sectors worldwide through this platform.  

The New Urban Agenda represents a significant step in reinvigorating a global commitment to promoting just cities for children that are safe, healthy, prosperous and resilient. “If you build the spaces that we need to continue expressing our voices, be sure that trusting in our capacities, and who we are, we will be the builders of inclusive and smart cities that are better for all,” declared the child participants of the Children and Youth Assembly.

By Jacqueline Trieu, Knowledge Management and Project Coordinator – Global Urban Programmes, World Vision International
Photo Credits: World Vision International (CC)