A football match, youth and gender assemblies as well as the launch of a new report marked the beginning of the Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum which kicked off in this scenic Italian city at the weekend.
On Saturday 1 September, an entertaining but one sided football match kicked off the Forum as a team from the United Nation faced off with lads from Scampia, a locality of Naples battling for the Habitat Cup. The Italian boys were in a different class hammering the cup sponsors 6-2.
The Habitat Cup is a new initiative of UN-Habitat to promote urban development and youth empowerment through sports. The original idea was to have a team from slum areas across Nigeria play with their Italian counterparts. However, the Nigerian delegation was not able to travel due to visa's issues.
Sunday morning saw the joint opening of the Youth and Gender Assemblies where speakers called for more empowerment of these two segments of the world population which they said were very critical but had been largely ignored by policy makers.
In his speech, UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos said the Forum provided the agency with the perfect chance to listen to what the stakeholders had to say adding that the work of his organization was to relay back to world governments what the participants wanted done.
He said that the youth question was one that needed to be addressed urgently. The median age in Africa was 18 and in other parts of the world it was 23. This showed that the youth were the majority and that unlike in the past they can no longer be expected to keep quiet and provide labour.
He gave a brief history of women’s empowerment saying that although a lot of gains had been made, there was no room for complacency and that the battle still needed to be fought to ensure womenfolk earned greater equality.
“The fight for women to get equal rights was long and hard fought. In most countries it was left until very late to have women participate in the democratic process,” he said.
In his speech, the Norwegian State Secretary for International Development Mr. Arvinn Eikeland Gadgil told those in the audience that they had a duty to fight inequality. Citing Norway as an example, the Secretary said studies had shown that the inclusion of women to participate in the economy had seen the country make more gains that it ever did from its leading resource, oil.
During the event, there was a standing ovation for the long serving head of Youth and Partners Section in UN-Habitat Mr. Anantha Krishnan who is retiring.
The day also witnessed the launch of the ‘Youth in the Prosperity of Cities: State of the Urban Youth Report 2012-2013.’Presented by a director of UN-Habitat Mr. Oyebanji Oyeyinka, the report notes that inequality, unequal opportunities as well as the issues of employment and underemployment were by far the greatest challenges faced by urban youth in the 21st century.
According to the report, the inability of national and city economies to create adequate numbers of quality jobs was one of the root causes of economic and social exclusion and a significant root cause of informal economies.