【IN FOCUS】International Youth Day: Empower Youth for Sustainable Development

2023-08-15 09:56:18

August 12, 2023 marks the 24th International Youth Day. Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24, accounting for 16 percent of the global population. By 2030—the target date for the?Sustainable Development Goals?(SDGs) that make up the?2030 Agenda—the number of youth is projected to have grown by 7 percent to nearly 1.3 billion.

As youth are increasingly demanding more just, equitable and progressive opportunities and solutions in their societies, the need to address the multifaceted challenges faced by young people (such as access to education, health, employment, and gender equality) has become more pressing than ever. This week’s IN FOCUS will introduce five innovative initiatives that respond to youth’s needs and problems and empower youth to engage in urban innovation.

Vienna, Austria

Werkstadt Junges Wien

Vienna has developed from an aging city into a young and growing one: in 2018, almost every fifth Viennese citizen was under 19. The Viennese government considers it significant to enable children and young people to experience democracy and create chances for them to vote.

The Werkstadt Junges Wien initiative aims for a structural, long-term, and large-scale approach to put social inclusion of all children and young people living and growing up in Vienna at the heart of policymaking and city administration. According to the wishes expressed by children and youth, Vienna has developed a strategy with 193 specific measures in 9 areas. 
By 2021, in 1,309 workshops, 22,581 children and young people freely articulated their ideas, which allowed Vienna to raise enormous potential, bringing about a new awareness for the interests of children and young people in all parts of city administration.

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Mashhad, Iran

Young Consultants Group

Young people are the most fundamental stakeholders and rights holders developing of their cities. According to the vision of Iran for 2025 and the milestones of the Fifth Development Program of Iran, the government of Mashhad established the Young Consultants Group(YCG).

The YCG of Mashhad is the leadership center empowering youth to engage in urban management, aiming to facilitate interaction between the youth and local authorities with an apolitical, non-profit and non-executive approach. The municipality of Mashhad allocates a budget to YCG according to an action plan. Meanwhile, many bilateral programs exist between YCG and the municipality or other institutions.  
By 2016, YCG had put forward 224,000 scientific studies, ideas, and innovations in urban management areas and cooperated with 72,000 educated youth. It has effectively expanded the scope of interaction between youth and government and improved the efficiency of urban management.

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Tivaouvane, Senegal

Preservation of an Agricultural Environment and Promotion of Sustainable and Decent Employment for Young People

A majority of the nearly 500,000 residents in the department of Tivaouane are engaged in agriculture. However, the availability of irrigation water and manure hindered further agricultural development. Also, animal waste caused by urban livestock farming pollutes the environment. The local government initiated this project in response to these problems.
It focuses on developing three courses of action. The first action is to strengthen the capacities of agricultural producers' organizations, drilling users' associations, and farmers. The second action is to support the self-employment of young people in green sectors. It aims to promote job opportunities for young people in peri-urban areas by creating of value chains based on intensive livestock farming, household waste sorting, organic waste composting, and tree planting. The third action focuses on recycling organic waste.
By applying for the 5th Guangzhou Award, the initiative has organized various training sessions. Niche production has also raised, on average, farmers' income to more than double the guaranteed minimum agricultural wage in Senegal.

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Bogotá, Colombia

School at Hospital

The initiative "School at Hospital" was launched with the Development Plan for 2012-2016 from Bogotá's City Hall in the environmental and community policies framework. This initiative aims to protect the right to education of children and teenagers who suffer a degenerative illness or are permanently under medical observation in hospitals.

School at Hospital seeks to prevent school desertion, guaranteeing young patients to continue their education and assuring their rights to education and health through an educational curriculum based on "essential learning for the good life." The values consider four essentials-to do, to know, and to live together.

Since 2010 the project has opened 24 rooms of School at Hospital, extended to 20 districts in Bogota, and benefited 18,374 students. The Secretary of Education has assigned and trained 50 teachers and opened six private hospitals since 2010, arranged several national and international summits about the topic and developed an educational model for the project School at Hospital.

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Ufa, Russia

Interdepartmental System of Preventing Adolescent Suicides

In the past, The problem of adolescent suicides was very serious both in Bashkortostan and Russia. According to the data in 2015, Bashkortostan ranks second in terms of the number of adolescent suicides. Therefore, the government of Ufa put forward the initiative "Interdepartmental System of Preventing Adolescent Suicides." 

The project is aimed at enhancing the efficiency of preventative measures. In 2015 - 2017 in frames of expert training, many events like training, lectures. and round tables on preventing suicides were carried out. Besides, the Guardianship and Custody Division of Ufa city Administration developed four operating procedures in case of adolescent suicide committed, adolescent suicide unfinished, adolescent suicidal behavior being observed, and plans of an individual adolescent suicide prevention approach to a child and his (her) family.

For two years of the project implementation, the number of adolescent suicides in Ufa decreased by about 25 %, the number of adolescent suicide attempts by 32 %, and the number of children in the risk group of suicide tendencies and self-injurious behavior - by 26.7 %. Ufa also plans to launch an events program to make internet content safe for children, improving the city's reputation.

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