World Vision International
article • Sunday, October 30th 2016

Children's Assembly and Charter - Historic First at United Nations Habitat III Conference

Share Tweet Share

Today is World Cities Day, launched by the United Nations in 2014 to promote global awareness of urbanisation and the need for cooperation to address the challenges of growth for sustainable urban development. This year’s World Cities Day adopts the theme ‘Inclusive Cities, Shared Development’, embraced by the vision of the New Urban Agenda, which was officially launched at the United Nations Habitat III Conference in Ecuador less than two weeks ago.

The Habitat III Conference was only the third time in history where global leaders and urbanists have gathered to discuss the world’s cities. Notably, it was a historic first for the inclusion of children’s voices in the entire Habitat process. During the event, World Vision led/co-led the Children and Youth Assembly, Children and Youth Roundtable, a Networking Event focused on ‘just and inclusive cities for children’, as well as featured as a panellist speaker at several partners’ events.

The Children’s 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 focused agencies to identify issues, priorities and recommendations for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. The Assembly, the first of its kind, aimed to provide a formal platform for current citizens and future leaders to propose solutions that can contribute to cities for children that are just, safe, healthy, prosperous and resilient that leave no one behind.

Children demanded access to quality education, safe public spaces, 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 urban solutions were captured in a Children’s Charter and presented to Dr Joan Clos, Secretary General of Habitat III and city government authorities during the closing press conference for the event (41:00), as well as shared widely during the Children and Youth Roundtable.

“We want a world that is full of love, and no more hate… We want to tell the distinguished authorities to pay close attention to everything that children say. Remember that this is not just a matter affecting the country’s children, but involves everyone… Let’s work together,” declared Emily Daniela, aged 10 years old, from Ecuador. Watch her speech on UN WebTV.

To uphold children’s rights in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, World Vision is calling upon city authorities to: 

  1. Protect the most vulnerable children, especially from abuse and exploitation
  2. Improve access and quality of urban public services and the built environment
  3. Build social cohesion to contribute to inclusive cities
  4. Enhance knowledge building and support participatory urban governance
  5. Promote multi-sectoral partnerships for citywide impact

Nearly 170 countries unanimously adopted the New Urban Agenda – a set of guidelines and measurements that will support the implementation of the SDGs in urban areas, specifically Urban SDG #11 “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. As Co-Chair of the General Assembly of Partners’ Children and Youth Group towards Habitat III and lead partner of UN-Habitat’s World Urban Campaign, World Vision has successfully advocated for the inclusion and recognition of children’s rights, which is now embedded in the New Urban Agenda.

As a Habitat III partner, World Vision is bringing its practical knowledge on local issues to contribute to urban solutions for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. World Vision has 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 developed through five years of research addresses the issues and vulnerabilities included in the New Urban Agenda. Read ‘Making Sense of the City: Developing Evidence through Action Research and Learning’ Report, which was launched during World Vision’s Networking Event.

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. We celebrate World Cities Day and the official launch of the New Urban Agenda – a significant milestone and achievement for the next 20 years that promotes inclusive cities and shared development for all, especially the most vulnerable.

Featured image: Child representative, Alexander Peralvo from Ecuador, presents the Children's Charter to Secretary General of Habitat III, Dr Joan Clos, and Minister of Transport and Public Works, Maria de los Angeles Duarte.

Share Tweet

Related Stories