Now in its third year, the Urban Youth Fund established by UN-HABITAT with funding from the Government of Norway has supported several thousand young people across the world to improve their lives and their urban communities. UN-HABITAT recognizes the rapidly growing youth population in cities of the developing world as potential partners in sustainable urban development. "So many of us are working hard to make opportunities for ourselves and it is sad when local leaders won't trust us. The Fund is special because it sees we can make a difference if we are empowered," says Linda, 22, from Nairobi, Kenya.
In 2011, a record number of youth from across the globe applied to the Urban Youth Fund – nearly 6000 applications globally – reflecting the growing needs of urban youth but also the number of youth already engaged in development projects in their own communities. Of note in this year's call for applications was the surge in interest from Latin America, with a nearly 25% increase in applicants, and in the special region of Zanzibar within the United Republic of Tanzania. Zanzibar is now supported by a dedicated "window" within the Urban Youth Fund, a concept that UN-HABITAT hopes to replicate for other regions in future years.
Beyond the provision of individual grants, the Urban Youth Fund now offers an online space – the Global Youth Help Desk accessible at www.globalyouthdesk.org – where young people can learn from each other, share best practices, and access cutting-edge urban youth research material. The Global Youth Help Desk, officially launched at UN-HABITAT's 23rd Governing Council meeting in April 2011, is the virtual arm of the Urban Youth Fund, supporting inter-regional cooperation between youth-led organizations and easier replication of effective youth-run development projects.
"All of the winners represent the kinds of ideas we need – ideas brought to us by young people," said UN-HABITAT Executive Director, Joan Clos. "Our young generations are the future, and we need all their vitality, creativity and optimism to create better cities and better prospects."
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
For further information, visit www.unhabitat.org/youthfund
Contact: Press & Media Relations Unit, UN-HABITAT, Nairobi;
Tel: (254 2) 7623153, 7625518,
Fax: (254 2) 7624060