The Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) was held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from 8-13 February 2020. This marks the first time the UN-convened event on sustainable cities and human settlements, under the main theme of “Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation”, was held in an Arab country. The host country partnered with UN-Habitat through the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, General Secretariat of the Executive Council, and the ultra-modern Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
The overall aim of the WUF10, held under six dialogue sessions, is to “harness culture and innovation as drivers for sustainable urbanization and provide greater insights into the linkages between urbanization, culture and innovation as a basis for achieving inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements.”
As part of the WUF10, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) held a side event in partnership with UN-Habitat with a focus on the SDG Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. The aim of the side event was to “share lessons on innovative public spaces that have supported youth engagement, built cohesion, inclusivity and given tangible expression to a more democratic and equitable society (cities) with a focus on the Global South”. The side event also explored the role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation in knowledge-transfer and best practices, emphasizing on the framework of doing so in Africa.
The session was held in accordance with the New Urban Agenda, and youth development in Africa was a priority concept to which much of the discussion was anchored. Indeed, Youth-friendly public spaces were a major talking point, with an emphasis on the need for these spaces as “catalysts of unlocking the youth potential through addressing existing youth challenges and harnessing opportunities such as employment, supporting innovations and in cities in Africa”. Although Youth-Friendly spaces exist in Africa, they are not supple enough to adapt to the realities and trends of the youth. Thus, multi-stakeholder engagement is essential in revitalizing Youth-friendly spaces in Africa, particularly virtual Youth-Friendly spaces in Africa.
When discussing these virtual centers, the issue of effective implementation arose: internet penetration, cost of data and digitalization that are still great challenges in the Global South. Solutions were discussed such as mobile journalism and the involvement of the Private Sector in enabling accessibility of internet for youth visiting or working in these Youth-Friendly centers.
Graciously representing the side event’s panel were the Mayor of Agona West Municipal Assembly, Ghana; the Director National Youth Council, Gambia; Youth representatives from Zambia and Kenya; UNOSSC; Plan International and UN-Habitat.
In 2017, UNOSSC initiated the “South-South and Triangular Cooperation among Maritime Continental Silk Road Cities for Sustainable Development”, jointly with China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE) under the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) of China, to promote South-South and triangular cooperation at the city level, taking advantage of the strategic opportunities offered by the “Belt and Road Initiative” in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.
To know more about the UNOSSC SSTC Silk Road Cities Project, click here.
UNOSSC also initiated the Youth4South: Advanced Youth Leadership Programme with Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture (CISSCA), Finance Center for South-South Cooperation (FC-SSC), IFAD, NOREC-Norway, UNFPA and the Zayed International Foundation for the Environment. Youth4South is designed as an umbrella facility dedicated to supporting South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives, projects and activities in promoting youth leadership and capacity development for achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). Youth4South is partnering and organizing joint activities with the African Union Commission and the Shenzhen Youth Federation.
To know more about the Youth4South initiative, click here.