The UN-HABITAT Advisory Committee of the Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development met for the first time at the organization headquarters in Nairobi on September 18, 2009.
The meeting was attended by Mr. Erik Berg, the Senior Advisor from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs, UN-HABITAT staff and two Youth advisory board members; Philomena Modu and Joao Scarpelini. The meeting chaired by the UN-HABITAT Director of Monitoring and Research Division, Prof. Oyebanji Oyeyinka was an opportunity for the Advisory Committee to discuss and review the Fund’s purpose, objectives, progress, three-year Work plan and the Advisory Committee terms of reference.
The special fund, established to support urban youth-led initiatives of the most vulnerable young people in urban slums and strengthen youth related policy formation, was passed by the 21st session of Governing Council in May 2009. Championed by the Government of Norway, the Fund aims at advancing the UN Millennium development Goal No. 8 target 16 and UN-HABITAT sustainable urbanization agenda.
The Fund, in its first round, attracted approximately 1,116 applications from 86 Countries of which 67 have been short listed for funding. The evaluation process involved assigning of reference numbers, eligibility checks and quality assessment to ensure that all applicants were equally treated.
In a speech read by the Deputy Executive Director Ms. Inga Klevby, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the Executive Director, UN-HABITAT, said “young people particularly urban youth are crucial towards the move to sustainable development.” Mrs. Tibaijuka reiterated UN-HABITAT’s commitment to engaging the youth in the development process particularly in sustainable urbanization.
Mr. Scarpelini and Ms. Modu the Youth Advisory Board representatives commended UN-HABITAT and the Norwegian Government for taking a lead in engaging young people in policy and programme partnerships. The youth representatives acknowledged this historic moment where youth became working partners in development. Mr. Joao acknowledged that the first phase was extremely successful, given the number and diversity of applications received.
Ms. Modu noted that the quantity and quality of applications received showed that young people were ready to take responsibility in tackling issues of unemployment, underemployment, climate and urbanization affecting many youth mainly in informal urban settlements.
The Youth Representatives called upon the young people to be the change agents in urban development and provide feedback to review and build the fund.
Mr. Berg appreciated the excellent work of the UN-HABITAT team in processing the first round, especially given the large number and the wide variety of applications received. “This has been the most promising initiative we have supported in the last four years and we look forward to continued cooperation with UN-HABITAT”. He stressed the need for efficiency and early disbursement of funds to the selected beneficiary projects.
Prof. Oyeyinka said the Fund represented UN-HABITAT’s attempt to address the inequality of opportunity that confronts so many urban youth today. He expressed his appreciation to the Board and staff members for the excellent work done and encouraged the staff to accept criticism and see this as a learning process towards improving the quality of the fund in the future.