Youth are leading the way to reclaim urban spaces

On 17-20 October, the United Nations will host Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador. This major conference will convene government officials, civil society representatives, and other stakeholders to discuss housing and urban development solutions. It is also an international event meant to reinvigorate the global commitment towards sustainable urbanization. And while the program includes a roundtable discussion for children and youth, many think this is not enough.

In response, the Latin American and Caribbean Youth Movement against Climate Change–CLIC, has organized the YouthHab Conference. The event will mark a milestone moment of youth engagement in Quito on the 13-15 October, three days before Habitat III. It is the first International Youth Conference regarding the habitat and the right to the city.

As the world becomes increasingly urban, youth around the word are rethinking urban spaces and sustainable development. Millenials in the United States are asking for clean energy and governmental action to tackle climate change. In Latin America, approximately 70% of young people consider climate change to be a very pressing issue. Many have decided they no longer want to live in the suburbs and are relocating to city centers. Youth rarely settle for what is in front of them, which is exactly what makes them capable of challenging the traditional model of cities.

The YouthHab Conference is part of a broader collaborative, collective, and inclusive project. It consists of a number of actions, interventions, and activities related to the right to the city. It seeks to promote the active participation of youth in civil society spaces. The organizers have several goals in mind, all promoting youth mobilization at the local, national, regional, and global levels and empowering young people who want to design, plan, and monitor the New Urban Agenda. CLIC is expecting 300 participants in total, half from Ecuador and half from the rest of the world.

This new agenda will set the pathway for urban development in the upcoming decades. The organizers are keen on monitoring the commitments made during Habitat III, asking for more open and transparent policymaking processes where young people can engage and hold officials accountable for the type of cities they create. In essence, CLIC wants to make sure youth can express their perceptions, demands, commitments, and proposals around urban development. Ultimately, they believe it is not only their right to participate in the creation of people oriented urban spaces, but that it is also possible to build more fair, sustainable, resilient, and democratic cities.

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