Quality Education, Genuine Participation, and Cohesive Communities for Children and Youth

Last week, hundreds of urban experts joined 56 member states of the UN Economic Commission for Europe to debate the region’s priorities for the New Urban Agenda during the Habitat III European Regional Meeting held in Prague.

The Habitat III European Regional Meeting discussed policies and approaches on how cities can promote innovative, productive and well governed cities; enhance inclusion and safety; and ensure access to decent, adequate, affordable and healthy housing for all.

During the event, World Vision International presented at several side events, highlighting numerous case studies that demonstrate children and youth as knowledge experts with the capacity to offer solutions, hold local authorities accountable, and strengthen urban policy development processes. 

Drawing evidence from World Vision’s Urban Research Initiative, presentations emphasised the need for development actors to understand the local dynamics and challenges of intermediate cities to achieve balanced and inclusive growth for all urban dwellers, specifically the most vulnerable and marginalised. 

In an official statement delivered during the final plenary session, Joyati Das, Senior Director of World Vision International’s Urban Programmes called upon member states to ensure quality education, genuine participation, and cohesive and peaceful communities for children and youth. 

“The New Urban Agenda must ensure that children and youth are not engaged in labour in hazardous environments. The link between access to quality education and opportunities for decent livelihoods and employment must be considered. Strategies need to be in place that ensure youth transition from informal economy and are able to participate in the formal sector.”

She highlighted the role of children and youth as knowledge experts of their local neighbourhood and city. “They can strengthen programmes and policy by bringing information and experiences, needs and solutions to local authorities and strengthen urban policies. They can play a monitoring role to ensure good governance and accountability.”

Joyati Das also raised the importance of social cohesion and peace as critical to the liveability and prosperity of our cities. “We need multi-sectoral dialogue in promoting the inclusion of vulnerable groups such as migrant children, youth and their families in city planning and budgeting processes. This includes improving rights and protection, and providing equitable and dignified access to services and economic opportunities.”

As Co-Chair of the General Assembly of Partners Children and Youth Constituent Group, World Vision International also had the opportunity to meet with the Habitat III Secretariat and UN-Habitat’s Executive Director to reinforce children and youth as agents of change driving social, political and economic transformation in their cities.