UN-HABITAT`s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, on Sunday appointed former Mozambique President, Mr. Joachim Chissano, as the agency's Youth Ambassador to ensure that the concerns of young people remain high on the international agenda.
In an address to more than 400 youth leaders from over 40 countries at the World Urban Forum in Vancouver, she said the needs of young people had to be accepted and their concerns taken into account if the world is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, especially those pertaining to improving health, education, and the betterment of millions of slum dwellers. Of the estimated 1 billion people living in slums and inner cities, around the world more that half are comprised of youth under the age of 25, and 40 percent are estimated to be under the age of 19.
Backing up Mr. Chissano's appointment, UN-HABITAT's World Youth Forum has received over US$ 900,000 in support from the Canadian government, and more than US$ 25,000 from the private sector.
"Your important mission as UN-HABITAT's Youth Ambassador, especially in African cities, but also elsewhere in the developing world, will prove invaluable to us in our drive better employment and capacity building, crime prevention, urban governance and regional networking," she told the largest youth convention yet arranged by the agency since its birth in Vancouver 30 years ago.
"We are delighted that you join hands with us today, with our children, on the frontlines of the battle against AIDS, poverty, social exclusion, unemployment and other problems that threaten to derail equitable development and sustainable urbanisation," she said.
Mr. Chissano is known as a tireless advocate for youth, especially in fighting HIV AIDS, poverty, social exclusion, and unemployment.
The Youth Convention meeting on the eve of the Third Session of the World Urban Forum, was capped with the signing of two cooperation agreements with YouthBuild International and the Oslo Youth Information Centre, both of which are working with young people in Africa in a variety of projects and exchange programmes.
A highlight of forum will be on Thursday night when leading HipHop artists from many countries around the world will give a live performance in Vancouver as UN-HABITAT Messengers of Truth singing about youth concerns, and ways of making the urban world a better place, especially for those living in ghettos of poverty.
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