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OurCity initiative

The challenge

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, this will have increased to two thirds, and as more people move to cities for a better life, millions of young people are growing up in environments that struggle to meet their needs. Despite increased commitments made by global and local actors in line with Sustainable Development Goal 11, the majority of the world’s urban development fails to address the problems caused by inadequate infrastructure, urban poverty, and social exclusion.

In cities, we often find the best of culture, healthcare, education, and opportunity, but many of these fast-growing environments are experiencing increasing and deepening inequalities. For example, cities only occupy 2 percent of the world’s total land but stand for 70% of the global economy, 70% of the global waste, and 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. While this poses some challenges, one clear opportunity is to further include young people’s voices in decision-making processes. As a generation that to a large extent is engaged in digital spaces and are important drivers of social, economic, and political change, their active involvement is key for successful and sustainable, inclusive transformation of cities.

Our contribution

OurCity is one of Fondation Botnar’s key initiatives, aiming to support selected cities around the world to implement coordinated programs that leverage digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI), and transform them into places where young people’s wellbeing and opportunity is secured. We see OurCity as a process that will catalyse stakeholders and drive policy change through inclusive engagement and advocacy. The initiative collaborates with young people, civil society, policymakers, innovators, and other city champions to nurture wellbeing and opportunity for all. The change will be driven by local-level programming and implementation together with young people.

Fondation Botnar is collaborating with the Melbourne Centre for Cities at the University of Melbourne to develop an effective Evidence to Action framework (E2A). E2A will inform and accompany the OurCity initiative to build a better future for children and young people in cities more effectively and efficiently.

From April to July 2021, together with the University of Melbourne, we organised a series of online dialogues with the aim to support youth-led and globally engaged conversations around urban partnerships, city systems, youth participation, and innovation. The results and reflections from the four dialogues can be found in this report and will now be used to inform how we are co-creating cities fit for young people at Fondation Botnar. You can learn more about E2A here.

Objectives of the initiative

  • Support cities to transform themselves into young people-centered cities enabled by AI and frontier technologies.
  • Encourage an enabling environment for young people’s participation through establishing partnerships to connect key urban stakeholders under a long-term engagement and transformation strategy.
  • Emphasise a relational wellbeing approach in program delivery.
  • Improve the delivery of innovative city services for young people and for all.

Selected Cities


Tanga is Tanzania’s most northern port city with 273,332 inhabitants. The city near the Kenyan border that sits on the Indian Ocean is a relatively quiet city, with harbour being the centre of life. As Tanga seeks to become an engine of economic growth for Tanzania, it is expected to rapidly grow over the coming years. Fondation Botnar is seizing this opportunity to collaborate with the city and build a more youth-friendly approach as the city continues to develop.

OurTanga key partners:

Tanga City, ProjektInspire, Tanzania Data Lab, Robotech, Tanzania Bora Initiative (Coders and Makers is the name of the project), PATH, Tanzania Data Lab, Ardhi University, the Scort Foundation, ARISE, Swiss Science Center Technorama, Innovex, ESRF, Amend, Uhurulabs, among others.

OurTanga key projects supported by Fondation Botnar:

  • STEM Park Tanga City is an initiative by ProjektInspire aimed to inspire and encourage young people in Tanzania to use STEM and STEAM to solve challenges in their city by coming up with different innovations. It is working in partnership with Tanga City Council and the Swiss Science Center Technorama.
  • Amend Road Safety City project is part of the Global Road Safety Program and is providing safer spaces and roads near schools in Tanga.
  • Coders and Makers of Tanzania Bora initiative work to enhance coding skills among students in Tanga, advancing the digital literacy strategy of the Ministry of Education.
  • The Transformation of Tanga City Environment for Healthy and Productive Development of Children and Adolescents project works to improve the use of technologies for data collection for city development in Tanga. Students are trained on using frontier technologies and among others, use their new skills to monitor and improve solid waste management and city safety mapping. They also conduct training on how to use a modern marine drone for underwater exploration aiming to reduce environmental risk and ecological threats. The project is led by Tanzania Data Lab and Ardhi University.
  • The Scort Foundation educational football focuses on training young people to use football as an educational tool. The training is providing young people with leadership skills and a space to discuss social issues. 
  • A project on understanding the scope for urban infrastructure and services finance and urban data is documenting everyday lives in Tanga and has provided a first glance to the needs and opportunities of young people in the city. The study aimed to provide an enabling environment for improved urban infrastructure in Tanga City, as well as to increase private sector investment, and by that, create more employment opportunities, especially among youth. The study was led by the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), Tanzania. 
  • Uhurulabs drones mapping project produced high-resolution maps of Tanga using drones and satellites images to improve urban services. The project will also establish a ‘Data Centre’ to be used for making informed decisions about the city. 
  • Tanga City Council Data Readiness Analysis Project conducted by Tanzania Data Lab has provided recommendations for data collection, governance and skills training to address child and maternal mortality issues.
  • Tanzania Open Innovation Organization project led by Robotech Labs is a makerspace which provides a hands-on learning experience for young innovators providing them with technical and soft skills to translate ideas and ventures into real projects.
  • Together with PATH, the Tanzanian Ministry of Health is being supported in the establishment of the Tanzania Centre for Digital Health which will bring together digital health actors to collaborate on identifying, deploying, and scaling digital health innovations to improve health outcomes in Tanzania.
  • ARISE Adolescent Health Survey is a baseline assessment of school health in Tanga which aims to fill the knowledge gap around adolescent health through community-based research.

Learn more about OurTanga by following them on Twitter: @TangaYetu


Cluj-Napoca is located in central Romania and is known as the historic capital of Transylvania. It has a population of 411,379 and is the fourth most populous city in the country. A vibrant city rich in history, Cluj-Napoca is recognised for its large student population and burgeoning information technology industry. However, various structural, social, economic and environmental challenges persist. Fondation Botnar sees the opportunity to work together with the municipality and young people to strengthen innovation systems and create policies and programs optimised for enhanced wellbeing. Romania is one of the focus countries for the foundation as the Botnar family were originally from the country.

OurCluj key partners:

Cluj-Napoca Municipality, ADIZMC, Cluj Youth Federation, Cluster for Education, SDG Colab, UniversitArt Association, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj Cultural Centre, PONT Group, Magic Association, Wello Association, Romanian Health Observatory, Preventis, Rural Senses

OurCluj key projects supported by Fondation Botnar:

  • LEAP is an interdisciplinary study assessing needs, gaps and opportunities for youth wellbeing in Cluj Metropolitan Area. The project was implemented in a consortium with Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj Cultural Centre and PONT Group and launched in 2021. The findings from LEAP have been used to inform Cluj’s youth strategy and OurCluj priorities.
  • MagicHELP is the Cluj support network which connects partners and communities to help children living with serious illness. The project is implemented together with the Magic Association.
  • EduAlert is a technology-supported program helping children stay in school by combining predictive technology for assessing dropout risk, with evidence-based psychological interventions. The project was implemented with the Romanian Health Observatory and Preventis.
  • Wello.AI is a technology app and platform for improving nutrition and healthy lifestyle among children and youth. The project has been implemented by Wello Association.
  • (in)VISIBLE is a social research study and creative documentation of OurCluj design processes, which resulted in the book, Activating Values in Urban Transitions – A novel approach to urban innovation in Romania, published in 2022. The project was developed together with UniversitArt Association, SDG Colab and Emerson College.
  • Learning QUB is a capacity building programme for the schools in Cluj connecting QUB (STEAM resource centre) and the Cluj School Network. The Cluj Cultural Centre implements the programme in collaboration with local schools and the School Inspectorate for Cluj County.
  • FIX Cluj is the first co-designed social innovation fund in Cluj-Napoca, supporting young social entrepreneurs and building learning communities. The project is implemented by the Cluster for Education and co-funded by the Municipality of Cluj-Napoca and partners from the local business community.

Learn more about OurCluj by following @OurCluj on Facebook and Instagram or by visiting the website.


Manta is a city on the coast of Ecuador, with a population of just over 200,000. The city’s economy has been steadily growing and modernising, due in part to its thriving fishing and tourism industries. As the city continues to develop, its leaders are eager to create more opportunities for young people in their city. Fondation Botnar is working with local champions to empower young people to take an active role in shaping the future of their city.


The city of Barranquilla is located in the northern part of Colombia, on the Caribbean coast, and has a population of over two million people. Barranquilla has a strong youth leadership who are working to foster cross sectoral collaboration and participatory processes of young people in city development decision making. The OurBarranquilla programme is part of this effort; working together, we hope to help build trust between young people and city leaders, and ensure that young people’s voices are heard.

OurBarranquilla key partners:

Fundacion Corona, Diseño Público, The City Town Hall


Koforidua has a population of 127,000 and is one of the major education hubs in Ghana, attracting young people. As the city continues to grow, municipal leaders recognise the need to create more opportunities for collaboration and engagement together with young people. Fondation Botnar is working with STAR-Ghana Foundation, authorities and key stakeholders to strengthen youth inclusion and engagement with governance in the city.


Barranquilla (Colombia), Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Koforidua (Ghana), Manta (Ecuador) and Tanga (Tanzania). More cities to be confirmed.

Duration of project

2019 – 2021


Supporting the project as key partners are D-tree International, Inspired Ideas, Simprints and Institute of Tropical Medicine.


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