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The challenge

In today’s global landscape, two key patterns stand out from the rest: rapid urbanisation and growing youth populations. According to UN Habitat, as much as 85 percent of the 1.3 billion young people in the world live in low- and middle-income nations, and more and more of them are growing up in cities every year. By 2030, 60% of the people living in cities in the global south will be less than 18 years of age. Intermediary cities are some of the fastest growing urban spaces, but they often lack the resources and infrastructure to provide for and harness their growing young populations. Nevertheless, due to their smaller size, many of these cities are more ready to collaborate with civil society actors and open to innovation and transformative change.

Our contribution

The Healthy Cities for Adolescents program is a multi-year Fondation Botnar initiative to promote the health and wellbeing of adolescents in intermediary cities across the global south. Taking a broad focus on their needs, including both primary health and socio-economic factors that impact physical and mental wellbeing, it provides grants to help test, scale and enable projects that work with young people to tackle the issues they face in their cities. This is supported by a program-wide monitoring, evaluation and learning framework to further the global knowledge-base around understanding adolescent health and wellbeing needs and how to best address them.

Healthy Cities for Adolescents promotes young people as important contributors and equal partners in creating sustainable solutions for their growing cities. Projects work together with diverse groups of adolescents to empower them to be changemakers, and engage key stakeholders – particularly city governments – to promote the sustained inclusion of diverse youth voices and views in planning and policy decisions. Projects are delivered by multi-stakeholder consortia that combine their diverse expertise and resources to advance young people’s health and wellbeing in each city and country context. 

What we’ve achieved so far

Healthy Cities for Adolescents was initiated in 2018 in partnership with the International Society for Urban Health (ISUH). During its first phase, the program funded seven projects in five countries: Colombia, Ghana, Senegal, India and Vietnam. It also laid the foundations for a global knowledge management platform on adolescent health and wellbeing in urban settings, provided an important test-bed for the Foundation’s ‘Evidence to Action’ framework, and led to the creation of a new SDG accountability tool in partnership with UN-Habitat, which inspired a global DeclarACTION, presented at the World Urban Forum 2022.

In May 2022, a second five-year phase of Healthy Cities for Adolescents was launched in collaboration with Ecorys. Phase II will build on and expand the work of Phase I projects, as well as support new initiatives across six target countries — adding Ecuador to the original five. Ecorys is currently building up the portfolio, with projects in Senegal and Colombia initiated in July 2022, and further projects expected to come on board in November. Applications are currently by invitation-only. At the program level, Phase II will continue to drive forward the implementation of the Evidence to Action framework to promote a global learning agenda around youth wellbeing in intermediary cities, as well as collaborate closely with UN-Habitat on the Youth 2030 Cities initiative, and other global policy advocacy efforts.

Phase I: Selected projects

Vivo Mi Calle, Cali, Colombia

Lead Partner: Fundación Despacio

Project duration: May 2019 – April 2022

Vivo Mi Calle focused on improving the wellbeing of young people in low-income areas in Cali, Colombia, by empowering them to create healthier environments through their active participation in city planning and regeneration processes. It has used digital technology to co-produce knowledge through surveys and maps that have been shared with the local government to inform bike paths, knowledge about safer routes, and ideas for future interventions. 


  • World Resources Institute
  • Secretariat of Mobility
  • Secretariat of Peace and Citizen Culture
  • Department of Gender Equity
  • Institución Educativa Nuevo Latir – community school
  • Institución Educativa Santa Rosa – community school

Learn more about Vivo Mi Calle here

Watch our new Impact Generation: Vivo Mi Calle video to hear from Adriana Quiñones, a young person involved in the program, on how Vivo Mi Calle makes young people in her neighbourhood feel safe and excited to pursue their dreams:

Fort pour le Futur, Thiès, Senegal

Lead Partner: Nutrition International

Project duration: May 2019 – April 2022

Fort pour le Futur was a multi-stakeholder project based in Thiès, Senegal, involving numerous partners collaborating to build a model of integrated nutrition and sexual and reproductive health and rights services, using digital technologies that empower young people in the city.


  • City of Thiès
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Youth
  • Ministry of Education

Responsible Adolescent Health Interventions, Tamale and Ashaiman, Ghana

Lead Partner: Regional Institute of Population Studies, University of Ghana

Project duration: May 2019 – April 2022

Responsive Adolescent Health Interventions built a multi-stakeholder consortium that advances policy research and guides action plans to promote adolescent health and wellbeing in Tamale, Ghana, as well as contributing towards national discussions on attaining SDG 3 and related global goals on a national level. The project is using the case study of Tamale Metropolis to inform national level policies and the replication of lessons in the secondary city of Ashaiman.


  • Ghana Health Services
  • Ghana Education Services
  • Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana
  • Tamale Metro Assembly
  • Northern Regional Youth Network
  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

Co-creating Healthy Cities for Adolescents and Youth, Da Nang, Vietnam

Lead Partner: UNICEF Vietnam

Project duration: October 2020 – April 2022

Co-creating Healthy Cities for Adolescents and Youth supported the development and evolution of Da Nang, Vietnam, into a healthy, dynamic and youth friendly city to ensure the wellbeing and participation of young people through strategic partnerships, capacity building, and the integrated use of technology. UNICEF’s interventions focused on adolescent skill building, promoting active participation of young people to enhance local governance, and ensuring the integration of important child-related targets and indicators in the new City Program of Action on Children. 


  • Da Nang People’s Committee
  • Ministry of Education and Training
  • Ministry of Health
  • Da Nang Youth Union

Healthy Cities for Adolescents India Initiative, Jaipur and Bhubaneswar, India

Managing Partner: Ennovent India

Project duration: October 2020 – April 2022

The Healthy Cities for Adolescents India Initiative aimed to enhance the health and wellbeing of young people in intermediary cities Jaipur and Bhubaneswar through multi-stakeholder, community-led interventions. Country situation analysis and city landscape assessment reports informed a five-pillared country strategy, rolled out by local implementing partners. These were: strengthening local governance; building life skills; improving gender equity; creating healthy environments; and knowledge building to drive a learning agenda. 

Implementing Partners:

  • World Resources Institute India
  • Haqdarshak

Gambetiando, Medellín, Colombia

Lead Partner: Impact Hub in Medellín

Project duration: May 2019 – December 2020. 

Gambetiando was launched to address malnutrition, adolescent pregnancy and socio-environmental these challenges in select struggling neighbourhoods in Medellín, Colombia, using soccer as a vehicle to improve young people’s health and wellbeing. The soccer sport training program focused on socio-emotional skills development, values formation, nutrition training with families, and a social entrepreneurship program. After concluding in 2020, its outcomes included improved health and wellbeing for young people, strengthening of socio-emotional and leadership skills, developing positive values through sports, as well as developing life and entrepreneurial skills.

Comvos, Cali, Colombia

Lead Partner: Coschool

Project duration: May 2019 – December 2020. 

Comvos was launched to improve the wellbeing of young people in Cali, Colombia, and tackle issues including aggression, violence, self-harm, and sexual abuse through the creation, execution, and scale-up of a participatory pedagogical model that promoted social emotional learning of young people enabling them to be leaders in their communities and cities. Through this project, young people in Cali were trained to take a leading role in building local solutions to their community problems.


Colombia, Ghana, Senegal, Vietnam, India, Ecuador

Duration of program

Phase I: 2019 – 2022

Phase II: 2022 – 2025


Phase I: International Society for Urban Health

Phase II: Ecorys

Watch all the videos from Phase I of the Healthy Cities for Adolescents program here.

See the Healthy Cities for Adolescents program in action at the 10th World Urban Forum here.

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