The University of Colorado Children, Youth and Environment Centre and UN-HABITAT week signed a World Habitat Day agreement to strengthen the relationship between the two organizations with the aim of better understanding the role of youth in cities globally.
This agreement comes as the world is recognizing the important role of youth, who make up to 70 percent of developing country populations, and are a key community to engage if the goal of this years HABITAT day of safe and just cities is to be reached.
This new agreement is intended to help policy makers address the issues facing the largest demographic represented in most developing countries with nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of Africa’s population under the age of 24. The results of these joint research efforts will be made available to experts and policy-makers working in related fields through the Global Partnership Initiative for Urban Youth Development.
"The needs and potential of youth in cities in the developing world must be a major policy concern of governments and researchers," said Dr. Willem van Vliet, Founder and Director of the Children Youth and Environment Centre. He signed the agreement with Ms. Axumite Gebre-Egziabher, the director of UN-HABITAT’s New York Office.
"While almost 40 percent of the world’s population is between five and 24 years of age, almost 85 percent of these youth live in the developing countries." Dr. van Vliet is a world renowned researcher on youth and human settlement issues. He was the main consultant and principal resource person for the Cities in a globalizing world: global report on human settlements (2001), and a passionate advocate for children and youth and founder of the Colorado youth and environment centre.
The World Bank World Development Report (2007) states that the time has never been better to invest in young people living in developing countries. Through the UN HABITAT Global Partnership Initiative partnerships with local governments in four East African cities have initiated one stop resource centre that provide a model of holistic youth development that engage youth in programs that give training in entrepreneurship and skill training, while addressing issues such as HIV/AIDs.
The Children, Youth and Environment Centre will assist in evaluating and researching these centres to create normative models which can be disseminated globally.
"UN-HABITAT is uniquely positioned to bring together policy and research to address the challenges on the urban youth development agenda," said Doug Ragan, a Youth and Community Development specialist for the Colorado centre. "We welcome this partnership and look forward to working collaboratively."
UN HABITAT will as well be signing another research agreement in the near future with the UNESCO Growing up in Cities Chair, University of Cornell. As well a partnership between UN HABITAT and the Environmental Youth Alliance on youth and climate change called "Winds of Change" was launched to actively engage youth to mitigate climate change disasters in urban centres.