Your Excellency Mr W Lemke, Under Secretary General of the United Nations and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace,
Your Excellency, Right Honourable Musalia Mudavadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government of Kenya,
Honourable Ms S Shabangu, The Deputy Minister for Safety and Security, South Africa,
Honourable Mr JS Ndebele, Premier of the Province KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa,
Honourable Mr BH Cele Member of the Executive Council for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa,
Your Worship Cllr O Mlaba, Mayor of eThekwini Municipality,
Your Worships the Mayors of represented cities, Representatives of UN agencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies, Gentlemen, and Young People, for whom and about whom we have gathered at this International Youth Crime Prevention and Cities Summit.
Allow me to express my appreciation to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for accepting to host this Summit, with the support of the Swedish Government through UN-HABITAT. This Youth and Cities Summit represents a very significant step for young people and how they perceive and are perceived around the world.
We are here to celebrate the changes in the way young people see themselves and their role in urban development, governance and improvement of urban life. We are also here to celebrate some of the significant achievements of young people as actors and participants in urban life. We believe we can together aim at a very clear shift in the way the world itself thinks about them – as children and young people who are actively participating in creating a better world, rather than as a problem generation.
This Summit builds on UN-HABITAT’s continuing work to change attitudes towards young people, and to strengthen the role and capacities of young people in governance and urban development at the local level. It is the culmination of a series of international forums on new ways to tackle youth crime and victimization, which began here in South Africa in Port Elizabeth in 2002 with the International Conference on the Development of Citizenship among Youth In Conflict with the Law on the African Continent.
UN-HABITAT has worked to increase the participation and recognition of vulnerable youth for the past 10 years with:
- Two regional forums on Youth at Risk in Africa in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 2002, and Youth at Risk in Latin America in Monterrey, Mexico in 2004;
- Strategy papers on Children Youth and Urban Governance 2004, and on Urban Youth in Africa 2005;
- Global partnerships with youth –highlighting youth platforms and youth-led initiatives at World Urban Forums in Barcelona and Vancouver in 2004 & 2006.
The 2007 State of Safety in World’s Cities Conference in Monterrey, Mexico recommended cities support inclusive approaches, and help build the skills of vulnerable youth to participate in governance and create sustainable livelihoods.
South Africa has played a leading role in promoting youth empowerment and youth development. The selection of Durban as the host city of this summit is a notable step in this direction given the city’s unique and successful integrated local policies that address youth concerns, create local youth partnership bodies, and allow for youth involvement in decision-making.
Your Excellencies, distinguished participants,
There is now an impressive amount of experience on how to prevent and reduce youth crime and violence as well as gang activity. I am pleased to note that South Africa has increasingly become a source of good and promising practices that work, being referenced around the world.
Cities are now seeing youth crime, violence and victimization as a public problem that can be addressed through an inclusive and participatory strategic approach, built on careful analysis and a balanced array of interventions.
Responses must be tailored and adapted to local contexts and the underlying challenges relating to the environmental, social, and economic opportunities available to young people must be addressed.
The Summit is a key step in achieving the goals set out in the Safer Cities Programme’s Strategic Plan 2008-2013 and the UN-HABITAT Medium Term Strategic and Institutional Plan, aimed at enhancing and strengthening implementation and co-operation for scaling-up and rolling-out community safety and crime prevention.
This very Summit is the product of the commitment of the South African Government, and the Provincial Government of Kwa Zulu Natal in particular. As a product of this same partnership there will be engagement around a regional resource centre on youth, best practices and community safety. This will be a major instrument to foster the dialogue that is initiated here during this conference and make available to cities and youth tools and capacities to deploy in specific contexts and to strengthen our collective learning on these issues.
We must support the participation of children and young people in public management through their involvement as citizens, raising a sense of their role in their communities, cities and nations, while stimulating a culture of inclusion and non-violent social change amongst youths.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear youth,
It is my hope that participants will use this opportunity not only to identify and synthesise similar experiences in their respective countries, but also to explore the role of cities in joining hands with youth in providing community safety. In addition, I hope that participants will develop a network of cities and youth working together to enhance information exchange, advocacy, and action.
At the city level, I encourage governments to formulate and adopt integrated local policies that address youth concerns, and to support the creation of local youth partnership bodies so that youth become involved in decision-making and implementation at the local level through youth action.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
In conclusion, I wish to affirm that UN-HABITAT is fully committed to promoting youth initiatives in human settlements development, but we cannot do it alone. We have to join forces in this endeavour. With this thought in mind, I wish to leave you with the exhortation to make this Summit a milestone in the development of our understanding of cities, in our access to good examples and positive practices, and in the development of our capacity to develop partnerships and synergies.
I thank you and wish you fruitful deliberations during this Summit.