In our rapidly urbanizing world, children and young people often form a majority of urban populations, living in increasingly over-crowded and dangerous environments, without access to the basic human rights to which there is overwhelming agreement they are entitled, and largely excluded from participation in the decision-making which affects their present and future prospects. They are a fast growing population, who will shape the future for cities around the world, yet they have almost no voice in urban governance.
The purpose of this paper is to stimulate and promote action by outlining the arguments for giving children and young people a far greater role in urban governance. It sets out the background to the growing problems besetting children and young people in urban environments, the urgency of the need for action, and the arguments for supporting their participation in urban governance, including those based on their human rights. It reviews existing commitments and action globally, and some of the emerging models of participation which have proved to be viable ways of increasing the participation of children and young people, both nationally and locally.