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State of Urban Youth Report 2012-2013: Youth in the Prosperity of Cities
an article by Juan Clos, Executive Director, UN Habitat (abridged)

I am pleased to present the second State of the Urban Youth report focusing on Youth and the Prosperity of Cities. This Report builds on the 2010/11 edition, “Leveling the Playing Field – Inequality of Youth Opportunity” and its insights into the state of urban youth. Much like the findings of the previous report, this one provides further evidence of the fundamental importance of job oriented education to the development of urban youth.

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At a time when the global economy is looking for paths to recovery and seeking innovative, ideas to rejuvenate itself, young people may offer the best hope. The events of the Arab Spring demonstrated that youth can be a powerful social force for positive change. The unexpected nature of these events, point to an underlying problem that afflicts youth in all corners of our world. The question is, why, in an increasingly urbanised world, are young people underappreciated by many governments and not at the forefront of economic activity and innovation?

The increasing prominence of the youth bulge in most urban areas presents a unique opportunity, as they represent the most dynamic human resource available. Their numbers today are larger than at any point in human history. Yet this group suffers the most from urban unemployment and often feels that they lack equal access to opportunities. This is especially acute in developing countries, which have a relatively youthful population that must be mobilised to realise greater economic and social development goals.

Today, 90 million youth around the world are unemployed (or 47per cent of the total number of unemployed) and an additional 300 million belong in the “working poor” category —they are in unskilled, insecure jobs and live in poor conditions. This Report takes a closer look at the condition of youth in major urban centres in four developing nations - Accra (Ghana), São Paulo (Brazil), Bangalore (India) and Cairo (Egypt). . .

Young people in the survey want equity for better shared prosperity both for their own and their cities’ benefit, and they regard education as the best way of bringing about a more equitable type of urban development. They point to other significant challenges like structural constraints and lack of a democratic culture in their respective cities. These are issues over which local authorities wield a degree of influence that puts them in the best possible position to take remedial action. Local authorities must also seek to mainstream youth issues into all aspects of their planning and operations policy areas.

The report recommends a better match between skills and labour markets through vocational training and with the participation of the private sector. ‘Soft’ skills matter more in service- oriented economies, young people in informal settlements need entrepreneurial abilities, and capacities must be better geared to knowledge- intensive business services. With their typical dynamism and energy, young people can exercise a unique multiplier effect on urban prosperity: the more they are allowed to benefit, the more they can give back, for the overall good of the society. . .

[Note: Thank you to Barry Weisberg, the CPNN reporter for this article.]


Question(s) related to this article:

Is there a renewed movement of solidarity by the new generation?,

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from Javier Collado Ruano, Director of Edition at Global Education Magazine, on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity.

Solidarity is a trans-dimensional phenomenon that goes beyond the ontological essence of human nature. In fact, when we analyze the connections between the microcosm and the macrocosm, we perceive that human beings are not involved in chaos and arbitrariness, but belongs to the large network of interdependencies, complementarities and reciprocities that constitute life. The emergence of life on Earth, around 3,8 billion years ago, was a complex process of exceptional natural phenomena, inherent in all living systems. A process which is expressed through unlimited creativity: mutation, gene exchange, and symbiosis. From a cosmo-biological perspective, we can understand a new conceptual dimension of life, where all living beings share same basis of genetic code: the twenty amino-acids and four phosphatic bases. In fact, the diversity of living beings is caused by the combination of this cosmo-bio-genetic basis.

This trans-dimensional perspective has a deep ecological and spiritual sense for our worldview because the human evolutionary adventure is the latest stage of life on Earth. The modern human being is a vertebrate animal, mammal, belonging to the primates, which emerged 200,000 years ago. In recent centuries he has imposed its anthropocentric, industrial and capitalist vision to the detriment of Pachamama (and Indigenous goddess known as earth mother). We consume around 120% of the natural resources that Earth Mother regenerats annually. Our consumer behavior is immersed in a fatalistic dynamic with a destiny to climate change (deforestation, loss of biodiversity, ozone, etc.), and our own self-destruction as a species.

There is an urgent need to get beyond the cognitive fallacy that the mental structures of social Darwinism and capitalist postulates of the 19th century have historically constituted, because they only understand natural and social systems as warmongers and competitive processes whereby species diverge from each other. . ...more.

This report was posted on June 14, 2013.