Children and Youth Shaping our Future Cities

“To the Governor of Jakarta and Minister of Youth and Sports, what is the role of the local government in ensuring access to child friendly public spaces?” asked Mohammad Nizam Hosen, a 19 year old youth representative from World Vision Bangladesh, at the opening plenary session of the Asia Pacific Urban Youth Assembly in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

When over 60% of urban dwellers projected to be under 18 by 2030, what is the role of children and youth in identifying and designing solutions to key issues relevant to sustainable urban development?

Three back-to-back urban conferences - the Asia Pacific Urban Youth Assembly (APUFY), Asia Pacific Urban Forum 6 (APUF) and the Habitat III Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting - took place in Jakarta last week, which brought this question into focus.

APUFY, the first regional youth assembly launched in the lead up to Habitat III, provided a platform for children and youth to highlight the key issues of their cities to be addressed in The New Urban Agenda.

“Despite the introduction of laws and policy, change is not happening. Child safety is still a significant problem and the number of cases of violence against children is increasing” stated Vandana Sonker, a youth representative from World Vision India.

The "Youth Involvement in Child Friendly Cities" session, led by World Vision Indonesia, highlighted the importance on the government and key decision makers to listen and recognise children and youth as key stakeholders in the city. Speakers emphasised how children and youth must be at the centre of discussions when planning our future cities.

This message fed into the Asia Pacific Children and Youth Position Paper, representing the regional priorities and recommendations of children and youth towards The New Urban Agenda. This paper was promoted during APUF and presented during the Habitat III Asia Pacific Regional Meeting, attended by over 900 delegates.

The Habitat III Asia Pacific Regional Meeting called for cities to be defined, planned and developed with people seen as change agents rather than beneficiaries. This key message was reflected during two side events, co-sponsored by World Vision International.

"What we need to see in Habitat III and The New Urban Agenda is the inclusion and genuine participation of children and youth in creating the city they need, the city we need. Children and youth bring diverse perspectives and solutions to inform local and national and regional urban policy development” stated Jackie Trieu, representative for World Vision International.