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The challenge

By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, 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. With fast growing cities comes a lot of opportunities but also challenges. These challenges are often related to young people’s health and wellbeing such as unsafe infrastructure, inadequate services, and violence. Intermediary cities are growing fast but don’t have the same services and resources of larger cities and because of their smaller size, they are more amenable to transformative change.

Our contribution

Healthy, thriving, and livable cities are critical to the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals – in particular SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities, and in line with the visions of these, we support the Healthy Cities for Adolescents Program, a five-year initiative managed by the International Society for Urban Health (ISUH). This program fosters a multi-stakeholder, community-led consortium which represents diverse groups from government, civil society, and the private sector to address the health and wellbeing of young people in growing cities.

The Healthy Cities for Adolescents Program promotes young people as change agents and equal partners and contributors. The program wants to deepen the knowledge of how to promote health and wellbeing in growing cities while leveraging a multi-stakeholder approach. Furthermore, the program recognises the importance of digital technologies and harness these to improve the health and wellbeing of young people.

The Program is currently being implemented in five cities. Additional projects in India and Vietnam to begin in 2021.

Follow the journey of the projects on social media #HealthyCityAdolescents and visit the International Society for Urban Health website to learn more.

Objectives of the program

To have healthy, livable, and sustainable intermediary cities where adolescents are empowered to contribute as thriving citizens.

  • Increased focus on adolescents as change agents.
  • Deepened knowledge of how to efficiently and effectively promote health in intermediary cities.
  • Leveraging multi-sectoral partnerships to sustain change.
  • Harnessing the potential of digital transformation.
  • Developing a learning agenda for advancing urban health.
  • Providing evidence and advocacy for policy change to support the program goals.

Selected projects


Fort pour le Futur, Thiès, Senegal

Thiès is the third largest city in Senegal and is a major industrial city in the country Thiès is best known for its tapestry making, which is a form of textile art woven by hand. A factory was set up in 1966 and produces work by some of Senegal’s top artists.

The project Fort pour le Futur takes a multi-stakeholder approach and targets adolescents in and out of school in the city. It focuses on four critical areas: adolescent nutrition, adolescent sexual & reproductive health, adolescent empowerment, and the use of technology. It aims to build the capacity of local civil society actors so they efficiently can advocate for and participate in the design of interventions and policies and hold those with influence accountable. The project is managed by Nutrition International.

Innovative Adolescent Health Interventions, Tamale, Ghana

Tamale is the fastest growing city in West Africa. It’s currently a hotspot for investors in the West African sub-region – it is stable, peaceful, and growing. The city is located on the crossing of three ancient trade routes and started to grow as a commercial centre centuries ago.

Innovative Adolescent Health Interventions operates in this socio-demographically diverse city. It promotes multi-stakeholder engagement to identify gaps and opportunities in the provision of Sexual Reproductive Health Services (SRHS) for adolescents with an aim to influence municipal health planning. The project is led by the Regional Institute of Population Studies, University of Ghana.


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Gambetiando, Medellín, Colombia

Arts and literature have long been important social elements in Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city. With three universities in the city, Medellín plays an important role in the creation of intellectual discourses in the region.

Gambetiando is a project that uses soccer as a vehicle to improve young people’s health and wellbeing. The soccer sport training program focuses on socio-emotional skills development, values formation, nutrition training with families, and a solid social entrepreneurship program. It highlights the ability of public-private-community partnerships to draw attention to the needs of adolescents living in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods. The project is managed by Impact Hub in Medellín.


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Comvos, Cali, Colombia

Cali is the third largest city in Colombia and is a centre for sports in the country and in 2021 they will be the first city ever to host the Junior Pan American Games which is a sports event for athletes in the ages 18 to 21.

The project Comvos is working to improve the wellbeing of adolescents in Cali through the creation, execution, and scale up of a participatory methodology that promotes social and emotional learning. It aims to scale the initiative to train up city officials and school leaders to replicate the methodology through an e-learning platform and the creation of networks. The project is led by a local organisation, Coschool in Cali.

Vivo Mi Calle, Cali, Colombia

Cali is the third largest city in Colombia and is a centre for sports in the country and in 2021 they will be the first city ever to host the Junior Pan American Games which is a sports event for athletes in the ages 18 to 21.

Vivo Mi Calle promotes active mobility in Cali. The critical areas of focus are to encourage young people to walk and bike to school, with the aim to design safe intersections, increase road safety, and strengthen ongoing city initiatives focusing on mobility. The objective is to increase knowledge and data collection around safe and sustainable mobility in Cali. The project is led by Fundacion Despacio in Cali.

Follow the journey of these projects on social media #HealthyCityAdolescents, or visit


Colombia, Ghana, Senegal, Vietman, India

Duration of project

2019 – 2023


International Society for Urban Health


Watch all the videos from the Healthy Cities for Adolescent Program here.

Watch the Healthy Cities for Adolescents Program at the 10th World Urban Forum here.

New projects to start in 2021

  • Da Nang, Vietnam

Managed by UNICEF, the initiative in the city of Da Nang, Vietnam, is a strategic partnership of diverse actors who support the city government’s plan to implement the HCA approach.

  • Jaipur, India
  • Bhubaneswar, India
The Future Now
For Children Worldwide

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