Over 500 youth gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the two-day World Urban Youth Assembly held March 19 and 20, 2010.
UN-HABITAT’s goal in hosting the Assembly is to empower youth to engage actively in the proceedings of the World Urban Forum.
Opening the Assembly, Executive Director Mts. Anna Tibaijuka said UN-HABITAT has long recognized young people as major stakeholders in sustainable urbanization. To ensure that youth voices are fully heard at the World Urban Forum, the Governing Council has now mandated the Youth Assembly to be an integral part of this unique global conference.
She exhorted the youth to be ambassadors of their peers around the world and bring their energy and ideas actively to the conference sessions, and to take part in the upcoming UN-HABITAT World Urban Campaign.
During the event, Ms. Tibaijuka launched the first UN-HABITAT world report on urban youth entitled “State of the Urban Youth 2010/2011, Leveling the Playing Field”. The report highlights how true equality of opportunity requires active intervention to ensure that circumstances beyond young people’s control do not adversely influence their life chances.
Highlights at the Assembly included inspirational words from a local youth, Renato Gardel, who said “though youth are often classified as criminal, unstable, violent and restless, in fact, their way of being represents transformation, positive change, and passion.” Mr. Gardel’s words were echoed by senior representatives of the Governments of Brazil and Norway, Mr. Márcio Fortes and Mr. Erik Berg, who both spoke of the need for meaningful inclusion of youth in political processes.
During the two days of the Assembly, youth representatives participated in dialogues on topics ranging from Climate Change, to Economic Empowerment, to Youth Friendly Cities and the Role of the Arts in Social Change, among others.