|Contributions of Youth to the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda (HABITAT, 1999, 137 p.)|
|PART I: OVERVIEW OF NATIONAL REPORTS AND LESSONS LEARNT|
The last decade of the Century was the period when the concepts of globalization, sustainable development and participation have been included in the agenda of the international community. These were the years when governments realized their limitations in the search for solutions to particularly social development problems at local, national, regional and international levels and noticed the necessity of establishing partnerships with non-governmental organizations, private sector, research institutes and associations of professionals. Important activities were initiated during these years. The process which began in the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janerio in 1992 underscored the necessity of sharing the problems of the world and the search for common solutions. During the City Summit (Habitat II Conference) held in Istanbul in 1996, the concepts of partnership and participation gained more importance not only in the decision-making processes for current issues but also for overall future planning a future all.
The City Summit (Habitat II Conference) was a cornerstone for the United Nations, national governments, local authorities, and especially for the Non Governmental Organizations and Community Based Organizations to work together as partners. The preparatory process for the Conference and the conference itself offered a great opportunity to integrate the views and demands of these partners on human settlements development in the formulation of the Habitat Agenda which reflected the way the problems of the world should be addressed within principle concepts such as sustainability, participation in decision making processes, gender equality and social integration.
The City Summit (Habitat II Conference) was the most participatory conference of the United Nations so far organized and the organizations of civil society and youth, namely Youth for Habitat, were accepted as partners in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda that was adopted as the final document of the Conference.
Municipal Youth Councils (CMJ) in Colombia
These councils are established according to article 45 of the National Constitution, which creates opportunities for youth participation and involvement in decision making. Municipal, Departmental and National Councils are established under this article and are elected by popular vote of young people. These councils are autonomous organizations serving as a communication channel between youth, the private enterprises and the State to design policies, programmes, and projects concerning youth. In Cartagena and Medellin, these councils were created by the initiative of youth leaders in contrast with other regions where the young people are waiting for these Councils to be created from the government as part of its responsibilities. It is important to note that these Councils are Municipal, Regional and National, whereas in most other countries, there is one national youth council.
Youth for Habitat International Network (YFHIN) is an umbrella organization operating at the international level with the coordination of a secretariat, several youth NGOs active at the local, national, regional levels and with focal points and resource persons in every region. The Network was first organized as a working group during the Social Development Summit held in Copenhagen in 1995 to promote youth participation in the Habitat II preparatory process and to raise awareness on issues of human settlements development. After the satisfactory results achieved in the City Summit (Habitat II Conference), youth representatives gathered in the International Youth Follow-up Meeting held in Eskisehir, Turkey in 1997 and formally established the Youth for Habitat International Network with its operational principles, conditions of membership and modus operandi of its Secretariat. The Network now has member youth organizations in more than 50 countries from all around the world.
Despite the fact that young people are the dynamic and enthusiastic segment of society, they have become vulnerable due to the immense population growth in many regions of the world, unresponsive policies and programmes at the national and local levels and lack of opportunities where they can demonstrate their potential. Planning for youth is unfortunately not an integral component of national development programmes in most countries. This situation is aggravated by insufficient inter-institutional co-ordination, lack of basic data and research, limited financial resources allocated to youth issues and lack of training. Youth should therefore strive to improve these policies and strategies particularly related to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21, as specifically elaborated in paragraph 120(a) of the Habitat Agenda. Principle 25 of the Rio Declaration and paragraph 120(b) of the Habitat Agenda, further address enabling of youth to play an active and creative role in building sustainable communities. Bearing in mind paragraph 182(n) of the Habitat Agenda, youth should be accepted as a key partner in the implementation processes of all relevant activities.
Salient Features of the Draft New Youth Policy in India
The new draft youth policy calls for an integrated approach to youth development as youth development is considered a multi-sectoral concept. It speaks about involving the youth in the process of decision making and implementation. Apart from these, it also defines the privileges and responsibilities of youth.
The major objectives of the new policy are to provide the youth with proper educational and employment opportunities; to give access to all relevant information, create adequate sports and other recreational facilities; to create among the youth awareness about Indian history, culture and heritage and to inculcate a scientific temper in them. The draft policy has set out four thrust areas namely: Youth Empowerment, Gender Justice, Inter-spectral Approach and an Information and Research Network.
The Policy recognises Education, Training, Employment and Health as the key sectors of concern for youth, and accords high priority to certain categories of youth such as, youth with disabilities, rural youth, unemployed youth and street children. Besides Education, Employment, and Health, the policy also focuses on Adolescent Health, AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Nutrition, Environment, Sports, Recreation and Leisure, Art and Culture, Gender Justice, Science and Technology, Civics issues and Citizenship
The Habitat II Conference and its preparatory process constituted excellent opportunities for youth to demonstrate their value as idealistic and visionary, yet active and energetic members of the society. Within this participatory process that took place at the preparatory stages of the Habitat II Conference and the Conference itself, Youth for Habitat International Network (YFHIN) has designed its objectives to contribute to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda as: awareness raising about Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21 (in addition to the global agendas related to youth); to promote youth perspectives in the implementation of these initiatives at the international, regional, national and local levels; to facilitate information exchange between youth organizations; to develop and implement projects related to human settlements development through mobilizing the potential of youth; to provide training and formulating models for institutionalization of youth approaches and; to strengthen international co-operation on youth.
The emphasis on the concepts of sustainability, partnership, transparency, especially during the last decade of the century, has strengthened the potential role of youth in the processes for human settlements development. The themes of sustainable development and social integration have gained new momentum within the setting forth of the human settlements development agenda. The Youth for Habitat approach, which has gradually developed during this period, has been the first example where youth potential was mobilized within an approach of forming a network in improving living conditions in cities.
One of the recent examples of replication of the Youth for Habitat approach was the launching of the youth network for the follow up process of the International Conference on Population and Development which was convened in Cairo in 1994, where young people were decisive about taking concrete actions for their own future. This example is quite important and satisfactory as it signifies the need for integration of the efforts of Youth in the follow up process of the global conferences.
Local Agenda 21 Project in Turkey
Local Agenda 21 project is implemented by UNDP-Turkey and IULA-EMME (International Union of Local Authorities-Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East branch) in order to develop local agendas in different cities in Turkey. With a subcontract signed in October 1997, Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 has started to coordinate youth activities within the scope of the project. The duration of the project was recently extended to the end of 2001 and the number of cities involved increased to 50.
Youth activities within the scope of this project can be summarized in 3 categories; networking, promotion of local youth councils and local Youth Centres. The youth of the cities that are involved in the project are informed about Youth For Habitat activities and encouraged to initiate civil platforms in their local communities for the improvement of their cities. After the establishment of a civil youth platform, the activities are focused on establishment of local Youth Council and Youth Centres.
As of 1999, Youth Councils in 23 cities have been established. Their sustainability, ability to reach the local youth and other civil society organizations however still needs improvement. Moreover, since there is no legal framework for the status of such mechanisms, their effect on policy making and implementation depends on the willingness of involved youth to take responsibility and the authorities willingness to share power with youth.
Replication of the youth institutionalized activities in Turkey in the Balkan region is another indicator of the success of Youth for Habitat approach. As a part of the international plan of action launched in the Earth Summit in 1992 a project entitled the Enhancement and Promotion of Local Agenda 21s was commenced in Turkey in 1997. The youth component of this local democratization project has been carried out by Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21. The success of the youth activism in this project which aims at establishing local youth councils and local youth centres has been considered as a best practice by UNCHS (Habitat) and encouraged Romania, Bulgaria and Moldavia to include the youth component in the execution of the Local Agenda 21 Projects.
In addition to many joint initiatives undertaken at the national/local levels, a new dimension of partnership between Youth and UNCHS (Habitat) was officially formulated by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in May 1998. The objective of this initiative is to establish and develop cooperation modalities between UNCHS and YFHIN which will enable them to join their capacities in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the relevant provisions of Agenda 21 with specific focus on the mobilization of the youth potential in human settlements development. Although the duration of this Memorandum of Understanding is defined as two years from the date of signing (May 1998) its impact and contribution in mobilizing the youth potential in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda cannot be evaluated within this limited time frame. The cooperation between UNCHS (Habitat) and YFHIN will extend beyond the date of expiration of the MOU. Such formal cooperation modalities are however important tools for enabling organizations of civil society to take more active roles in the international arena.
Youth Micro-Enterprise Development/Self Employment in Pakistan
Financial assistance for self-employment such as the assistance provided by Youth Investment Promotion Society (YIPS) is an excellent example of supporting youth initiatives in income generating activities as well as the youth self-development. In addition, NGOs provide short term credits in their respective project areas to provide opportunities to unemployed youth to establish their own business at different levels. Micro-credit loaning is an important and very successful programme of the NGOs and CBOs operating in Pakistan.
Youth for Habitat International Network (YFHIN) - as was the case at the 16th session of the Commission on Human Settlements - organized a comprehensive parallel youth programme during the Seventeenth Session of the Commission on Human Settlements which was held in Nairobi in May 1999. The resolution CHS 17/19 entitled Partnership with Youth was supported/proposed by the delegations of many states. The Youth for Habitat approach that was recognized by the Memorandum of Understanding signed by UNCHS (Habitat) and YFHIN was also high lighted in this resolution by captions such as:
Recalling the Memorandum of Understanding between the Youth for Habitat International Network (YFHIN) and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), signed in May 1998;
Noting with appreciation the work done to date by the Youth for Habitat International Network, involving 103 youth NGOs all over the world in more than 50 countries, on many fields of interest for human settlements and developments, and;
Invites the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) to continue to work with youth organizations, including YFHIN in all fields concerning youth, on a participatory basis in all related phases of the implementation of the Agenda.
Preparation of national reports concerning youth contributions to human settlements development is the focus of cooperation between UNCHS (Habitat) and YFHIN for the 1998-1999 biennium. These reports are aimed at identifying the situation of youth vis-is living conditions in cities as perceived by themselves and elaborate on youth activities undertaken for the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. These reports will be used as references for exchange of experience and information between youth organizations in different regions and will be utilized for further research studies on youth and human settlements development.
Community Ice Cream Parlour, Brazil
Located in Fortaleza (Brazil), young people in the community - with support from the residents association - decided to look for a solution for unemployment in the community. They built a small ice cream factory, which employs 30 young people from the neighbourhood. With help from some church entities, they initially built a small building to house the factory on a residents association plot of land, and later they were able to obtain the equipment and commenced working together. Many of these young people who were on the streets, are now working and helping their families. About 50 families sell the products.
The factory produces approximately 80 litres of ice cream per day, and it is already financially independent. They have already completed an extension that will help increase production. This project had the support of the NGO-Cearah Periferia, which provided them with the loan for the extension.
Youth representatives (organizations) have prepared these reports according to the general guidance provided by UNCHS (Habitat) and the Secretariat of the YFHIN. The secretariat of the YFHIN has also prepared the general evaluation part of these national reports (Part I). All these national reports and general evaluation part are presented as prepared by their authors with only basic editing.
The exercise of preparation of national youth reports in the above-explained context has been initiated in several countries. It was not possible however to complete these reports in some countries within its deadline and they were completed in only seven countries, namely Brazil, Colombia, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Senegal and Turkey. These reports are expected to facilitate information exchange on youth activities in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda between countries as well as between youth organizations. These reports may also be utilized as follow up tools at local and national levels.
The Mathare Youth Sports Association in Kenya
Mathare is one of the largest slums in Nairobi province. This non-profit NGO was founded as a self-help project designed to organise sports and slum clean up activities for the youth and children living in Mathare. Currently, it has an estimated membership of over 4,500 girls and boys aged between 10-18. They are divided into teams and there are about 300 teams that participate in both national and international football leagues, environmental clean up and HIV-AIDS awareness programmes.
During the process of preparing these national reports - which followed an agreed upon format between UNCHS (Habitat) and YFHIN - the authors were requested to inform the responsible governmental agencies, UNDP offices and national youth platforms within their countries in order to sustain collaboration between related bodies as well as to maintain consistency of data related to youth and human settlements. The co-ordinating body, namely the Secretariat of the Youth for Habitat International Network played a facilitating and guiding role in this future-oriented exercise. These reports are evaluated along common issues, priorities addressed, and recommendations to YFHIN in the following sections and presented as annexes in Part II of this report. It should be noted in this relation that this analysis section provides a summary of findings and the attached reports should be referred to for detailed information.
In the evaluation of these reports, the common problems encountered are identified as:
· Insufficient urban services;
· Lack of full acknowledgment of the potential of youth;
· Lack of awareness of the youth organizations working in the fields of the Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21;
· Lack of inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional approaches;
· Lack of financial resources;
· Hindering effects of politics and bureaucracy;
· Lack of networking among youth organizations and other institutions;
These common topics mostly concern general problems that young people are confronted with in diverse areas related to human settlements development. These problems are better understood when the reports are examined separately, analyzing the causes of these problems, processes of how they emerged and grew, and their assimilation in-the culture as well as the reactions of the community.
The following points were raised in these reports as areas where youth activities should be initiated with priority and measures to be taken by responsible governmental organizations:
· Sharing of youth best practices
· Seeking greater self-management for youth groups
· Increasing the quantity and type of actors involved in the local, regional, national and international level youth activities
· Creating efficient mechanisms for training and capacity building for youth
· Facilitating appropriate city planning processes where youth can be involved
· Utilization of the technological advances to sustain efficient and effective communication
· Promoting effective means for advocacy
· Developing the dialogue of youth with partner groups (NGOs, international organizations, and multilateral agencies)
· Establishing a mechanism to promote access to various Habitat programmes and services which are related to youth
· Developing indicators for youth contributions to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda
· Establishing/improving of National Agencies responsible for the identification and documentation of the best practices
Most of these priorities youth have identified are already addressed and are in the implementation process to some extent in many of the countries. UN agencies, national governments, local authorities, specialized institutions, private sector, academicians, NGOs/CBOs and other stakeholders have been active to cooperate with youth in these fields. The level of cooperation nevertheless needs improvement. The acknowledgment of youth as a full partner in these processes will positively contribute to the further development of youth.
Youth organizations in these reports have formulated recommendations to YFHIN to articulate its functions and improve the performance of the network. These can be summarized as follows:
· To reinforce and widen its organizational basis and to improve the effectiveness of the regional focal points
· To institutionalize its activities by organizing meetings at the regional and international levels, on themes dealing with human settlements development concerning both youth and governments
· To improve capacities of active organizations at the local level by supporting their training programmes
· To establish frameworks of cooperation with UN Agencies, particularly with UNCHS, UNDP and UNEP
· To seek sufficient and sustainable financial resources for funding large scale projects
· To initiate discussions with the organizations involved in the preparation of national reports with a view to establish an action programme at the regional levels
· To promote the establishment of Habitat Committees in the national youth councils where they exist
· To utilize the occasion of Istanbul+5 for the strengthening/establishment of partnerships of youth with central governments
· To promote acknowledgment of Youth for Habitat approach by all stakeholders, especially central governments and local authorities
· Fundraising for youth activities in fields related to human settlements development
Youth for Habitat International Network will consider the recommendations and priorities specified in the national reports to improve the scope and the impact of work carried out since 1995 when the network became operational. The continuance of the process of preparing periodical national reports is necessary for YFHIN to monitor and assess youth contributions in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.
Cleansing the District of Guinaw-Rail in the town of Pikine in Senegal
Deeply disturbed by the spreading out of liquid and solid waste, this urban area located in the region of Dakar is specially characterized by an overwhelming lack of a cleansing system. In this respect, the association MANKOO involved itself in the traditional methods of cleansing. Voluntary youth groups equipped with old and traditional materials have succeeded to build up a system of liquid and solid waste management based on waste water drainage, waste filtering and purifying, and supplying families with waste bins. With the support of local authorities, they have created water pipes along the roads for waste water and ravine drainage.
As foreseen in the Plan of Action for Youth launched during the 17th session of the Commission on Human Settlements, YFHIN is planning to organize a dialogue between youth organizations, members of the network and those who have been involved in the report preparations process. The dialogue will aim at formulating strategies at different levels through comparisons of national reports and through sharing of experiences for the Istanbul+5 process and beyond.
It is noted that youth in these countries - in four different regions of the world - have many similarities as regards to their situation and common problems related to their contributions to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. Bearing in mind that common problems need common approaches, this initiative of preparing national reports has emphasized the necessity of international cooperation and activism.