By Abigail Hutchings
Source: Author’s own photo of a session at H3Toluca.
The Latin American & Caribbean Regional preparatory meeting for Habitat III Conference in Toluca, Mexico, (H3Toluca) was held April 17-20, and focused on urbanisation challenges and solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is one of several regional meetings that will contribute to the New Urban Agenda which will be finalised later this year in Quito, Ecuador. The Global Leadership Initiative team participated in the meeting as part of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UNMGCY). The major group is made up of young people from all over the world who unite to represent global children and youth. The UNMGCY feel strongly that urbanisation is an issue which will affect youth – especially future generations – and it lobbies for the inclusion of issues that will improve the lives of youth in the New Urban Agenda.
As representatives of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, the GLI team helped develop a position paper that served as the basis for the UNMGCY’s negotiating position over the course of the following three days. The GLI team staked out the following key positions:
- Problematising Youth and Places: Children visible in streets are often vulnerable yet they are increasingly considered ‘dangerous’. The New Urban Agenda needs to provide young people with a safe and secure environment. In particular, it must ensure that the most vulnerable youth have a ‘place’ in the city. Creating these spaces will reduce the stigma associated with young people and the places they occupy in urban areas.
- Mobility and Youth: Without the means of access to vehicles, young people by default have to walk or use other means of transport in the city. Enrique Peñaloa, Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, describes how ‘an advanced city is not one where the poor have access to cars, but rather the rich use public transport’. The New Urban Agenda must ensure that youth from all strata of society have access to affordable and safe public transportation.
- Youth Participation in Urban Communities: The New Urban Agenda needs to recognise the importance of community for young people, especially as cities are growing and societies are becoming more individualistic. Young people need to feel they belong in the city in which they reside.
The aforementioned themes are just a few of the contributions made by the GLI team to the UNMGCY position paper.
Abigail is Geography undergraduate student, interested in the inclusion of women and children in global policy, urban issues and solutions, and the collaborative action of Island Nations in the global agenda.