The round table on Youth Development in Middle East and North African Cities: A Crisis and an Opportunity was held to great success at the Africities Summit in Marrakesh, Kingdom of Morocco.
Participating at the event were youth, policy makers, local authority representatives and mayors.
“Youth are our imagination and our hope for the future,” stated Mr. Simon Compaoré, Mayor of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The city of Ouagadougou has undertaken a series of programs to address youth issues in the areas of primary and secondary education, employment and the promotion of arts and cultures for youth.
A youth agency based there - the Association Jeunesse Sans Frontiere Burkina (AJSFB) was among the first to be given a grant from the UN-HABITAT Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth Led Development for its project that promotes proper hygiene and sanitation amongst youth.
Following the launch of the multi-year million dollar Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth Led Development, this round table is part of a larger strategy to promote youth as active citizens and resources to their community.
“What we have seen at Africities is the strong support for the engagement of youth by cities,” stated Mutinta Munyati, UN-HABITAT Human Settlements officer. She added,”we at UN-HABITAT are strongly supporting cities in developing urban youth program and policies.”
Ms. Munyati worked with Doug Ragan of the University of Colorado to author a policy paper for the round table which addressed the issue of urban youth in the MENA region.
There were three key policy recommendations in the paper: the provision of urban space for youth, such as the one UN-HABITAT has implemented with the One Stop Youth Resource Centre models; the development of youth programs focused on shelter related vocations; and the engagement and training of young girls and women.
This paper will be expanded to include additional recommendations on urban youth policy from the round table held on 17th December in the context of the Africities meeting.