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World Cities Day 2021: committing to safe and healthy cities for young people

Fondation Botnar

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More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2050, that number will have grown to two thirds. As more people move to cities for a better life, millions of young people grow up in environments that don’t meet their needs.  

With World Cities Day coming up, we’re taking a moment to hear from our partners working to shape cities into places that are fit for young people and allow them to thrive. Meet some of them in the short videos and read their updates below

Announcing the new S²City Program 

We are delighted to announce the S²City (Safe and Sound City Program) a new Fondation Botnar supported program by the Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation (GIB) that aims to improve the safety and wellbeing of young people in urban environments.

The program started with a global photo, video and drawing competition involving 150 young people across 33 countries. By answering a survey about their experiences with urban safety, the participants shared the safety issues young people face in cities around the world. The participants also had the opportunity to suggest a name for the new program and submit a picture, video or drawing of a local safety concern. These entries ultimately helped inform the program scope. 

Following a public voting event and livestream announcement of the competition winners, the new official title of the program was decided: S²City: Safe and Sound City. 16-year old Mohamed Abulfadl from Egypt submitted the winning name. 

In the first implementation phase, the project will start in two cities: one in Indonesia and one in Colombia, respectively.

Meet Andrea Betancourt, the acting S²City Global Program Manager, sharing the aims of the program and achievements this year.

OurCity initiative: Progress and expansion

The OurCity initiative aims to support cities around the world to implement coordinated programs that use digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI), to transform them into places where young people’s wellbeing and opportunities are secured. The initiative brings together young people, civil society, policymakers, innovators, and other city champions to collaborate on policies and projects that improve young people’s wellbeing. Currently, we are working in Tanga, Tanzania, and Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Innovation and data for change in OurTanga

Gibson Kawago, manager at STEM park Tanga, about the park’s success in Tanga encouraging young people to learn more about STEM.

Tanga is Tanzania’s northernmost port city. As a relatively quiet city centred around its harbour, our partners at OurTanga have been working tirelessly in the past few months to create an increasingly thriving city and have already seen positive achievements. 

A growing innovation scene has started to take root in the city. OurTanga is working together and providing children and young people opportunities to learn about STEM, robotics, coding, solid waste management, safety index mapping, and marine drone use. Bootcamps have allowed children and young people to further their learning and connect with each other.

The city has also improved its use of digital and data for city development, health, and wellbeing of its citizens. It is working with innovative organisations to advance this area of work further.

You can follow OurTanga on Twitter here and read more about the development in 2021 here.

Education and youth engagement in OurCluj

Meet Nadina Pantea, sharing some of the progress in Cluj-Napoca over the past year.

In Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the OurCluj initiative has, despite challenges with COVID-19, built new partnerships and supported the city’s efforts to put more focus on young people’s wellbeing. Zur Oren, Partnerships Coordinator at Fondation Botnar, recently visited our partners — you can read his reflections from the trip here.

So far in 2021, the partners of OurCluj have already delivered impressive results, completing important preparatory work that will inform interventions in the education sector and youth engagement and participation spaces. A coordinated education intervention is in development, informed by detailed education mapping and analysis of past learnings from the youth-led social innovation project (Com’ONCluj). The Cluj-Napoca 2030 Youth Strategy will be presented at the end of 2021, and the strategy will also include an action plan for 2022. Findings from the LEAP study have informed the strategy development and action plan. These are just a few highlights over the past year.

Read more developments from OurCluj here.  

More to come…

We are working hard with our partners around the world to identify countries and cities to join the OurCity Initiative. We are pleased to announce that we are officially expanding the initiative to Ghana, Colombia, and Ecuador, where cities will be identified with local partners and young people as part of the initiatives’ first phase. Keep an eye out on our channels and sign up for our newsletter to be kept up to date.

New connections and partnerships in the Healthy Cities for Adolescents Program

Healthy Cities for Adolescents Program Director Joyati Das urges governments to invest in digital infrastructure in the post Covid era to promote inclusive cities

Natalia Lleras from the Vivo Mi Calle initiative in Colombia shares some of the incredible progress of the project with new collaborations over the past year. 

We are also proud to have supported the Healthy Cities for Adolescents Program since 2018. Since then, the program has grown, created partnerships in cities across the world, and had an incredible impact. This year, the Program has continued to strengthen its youth participation strategy component, with the launch of “Youth Shape the Road to 2030”, a partnership with UN-Habitat. This urban governance initiative, which cuts across all Healthy Cities for Adolescents project cities, seeks to build the capacity of youth leaders to engage in meaningful participation to contribute towards sustainable urbanisation and Agenda 2030.

Project partners in Colombia, Ghana, Senegal, India, and Vietnam have seen significant achievements in digital technology for youth engagement, youth rights promoting democracy and city development. In Cali, Colombia, a free wifi zone was launched in partnership with the local government that contributed to the “Bridge of Colours project”, a public space regenerated by Vivo Mi Calle, increasing internet access for the local community. 

Meanwhile, the four Healthy Cities for Adolescents India Initiatives have used digital technology to engage with young people through online roundtables, capturing their voices on ideas and examples of solutions for healthier cities for young people. A partnership with World Resources Institute (WRI) India was also launched this year, facilitating greater participation of adolescents in mapping safe spaces and sharing this knowledge to influence local planning and policy.

To learn more about the program and its contribution to healthier cities globally, visit the program website here.

Youth action for thriving cities in the Fit for Future projects 

In July of this year, we launched the Fit for Future – a program of 14 projects across youth action for thriving cities, technological solutions to health challenges, and building skills for the future. Meet some of the people behind three projects under the program focusing on thriving cities for youth action below.

Safetipin, India

Kalpana Viswanath from Safetipin shares some of the learnings for the past year and the need for innovation to deliver inclusive technological solutions. 

Food System Resilience Lab, Colombia 

Paula Sanches, Director of the Food System Resilience Lab, discusses the need to involve the voices and actions of youth to transform the lives of everyone. 

AI&Me: Empowering youth for safer roads AIP Foundation, Vietnam 

My Huynh from AIP Foundation describes how AI&Me will empower youth in Vietnam. 

Our social media channels have catalysed and encouraged conversations throughout this month, highlighting some impactful projects from across the globe and sharing how we believe we can make cities better together. Join the conversation and see our Twitter moment #Cities4Youth here.

The Future Now.
For Young People

Fondation Botnar
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