UNAC, UN-Habitat and UN Women undertake 5 city consultation on Canada’s Role in International Development

During July 2016, the United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada), the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat), and UN Women conducted a nationwide series of youth consultations with the goal to elevate the youth voice on the International Assistance Review (IAR) undertaken

by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). The report can be downloaded at this link


This report is a compilation of youth recommendations and views on international development according to GAC’s identified policy issues.

The consultations undertaken convened more than 100 diverse Canadian young leaders from Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa, aged 16-29.

The conversations were organized to address the policy issues identified by GAC for the IAR and the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The importance of youth involvement in international development policy, and also in urban and national policy implementation, was echoed in importance throughout the country.

The following questions provided the framework of each consultation:

  • What is the role of youth in international development? Should youth in developing countries and youth-led organizations be supported by Canada to undertake development work?
  • What are the key areas that Canada should focus in empowering and improving the wellbeing of young people in areas such as education, skills training, governance engagement, and health?
  • How should Canada support girls and young women in areas like education, skills training, governance engagement, health, and safety?
  • Cities play a vital role in sustainability – What are the urban issues that are critical to youth globally? (Some urban issues: housing, transportation, jobs, crime and safety.)

The report is organized by thematic recommendations according to the policy issues of the IAR, identified by GAC. These include Health and Rights of Women and Children, Clean Economic Growth and Climate Change, Governance, Diversity and Human Rights, Peace and Security, Responding to Humanitarian Crises, and Delivering Results. However, as UNA-Canada, and its partners, embarked on its nationwide youth-led initiative, addressing youth policy issues was a recurring message across the country.

As a result of this call for youth engagement, a key recommendation to the Government of Canada is to add the theme of Youth-led Development within the IAR policy issues framework.

This submission has incorporated a Youth-led Development thematic component, in addition to

the pre-determined policy issues identified by GAC. UNA-Canada and our UN partners recommend, in concurrence with our Minister of Youth, that the intersectional youth voice be elevated not only in Canada but across the globe through representation in various levels of policy processes as well as through grass-root initiatives. Detailed recommendations from Canadian youth for youth in developed and developing countries can be found under Youth-led Development within the thematic recommendations below.

Engaging Youth in Our Global Future: UN Consultation on the International Assistance Review and Sustainable Development Goals

OTTAWA, July 14th, 2016 – The United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada), in partnership with UN-Habitat and UN-Women, launched today a series of national youth consultations on the future of Canada’s international development assistance. The Canadian Government has called for these consultations to assure the voice of youth, Canadians at large and other international development partners in the development of Canada’s international development assistance programme. In addition to the consultations on the international development, youth will also be consulted on their opinion on sustainable urbanization, as part of a larger consultation on Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda.

The consultations, taking place in 5 cities across Canada, will convene young leaders from across the country to hear their ideas about the work of the United Nations (UN), Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the role of youth in international development issues. Youth will be given the opportunity to shape future global development policy. Priority policy ideas emerging from discussions will be reported to Global Affairs Canada as part of their International Assistance Review Consultations.

The consultation just completed in Vancouver highlighted issues such as the engagement of international diaspora

“Young people’s ideas and participation are vital to the work of UNA-Canada, to the UN, the Government of Canada and our Youth Minister and to attaining the sustainable development goals – in Canada and the world.” States Kathryn White, President & CEO of UNA-Canada.

The United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada) is a national charitable organization providing the leading policy voice on multilateralism in Canada, with 25 000 members from coast to coast to coast. Established in 1946, UNA-Canada was a founding member of the World Federation of United Nations Association and today holds the elected Vice-Chair, representing global civil society.

Doug Ragan, Chief, Youth and Livelihoods Unit, sees the critical role of Canada and Canadian youth in international assistance. “Canadian youth play a critical role in key global issues such as climate change, peacebuilding and the role of cities. We are excited to work with UNAC and UN-Women to assure their voice in developing Canada’s international assistance programmes.”

Locations and dates of Consultations are: July 12th: Vancouver, BC; July 15th: Edmonton, AB

July 22nd: Toronto, ON; July 26th: Montreal, QC July 29th: Ottawa, ON.


For more information please contact:

Elias León                                                          or                           Adlai Salcedo

Elias.leon@unac.org                                                                    adlai.salcedo@unac.org

(613) 983 5366                                                                                  (647) 983 9768

The United Nations Association in Canada

Our Work
UNA-Canada engages citizens and decision makers at every level of Canadians society. We invest across generations, bringing empathy-based educational resources on health, citizen education, diversity, peace and the environment to both the best and the brightest and to most marginalized youth within Canada and in the world’s poorest countries.

We meet our mandate with a national network of branches, volunteers and education programmes that are inspiring and mobilizing Canadians in support of the principles and critical work of the UN. By growing global citizens, we are building a stronger, more outward looking Canada ready to accept the greatest challenges of our time.



#H3Youth Demonstrate their Collective Strength at PrepCom3 in Surabaya

Written by Ying Gao, edited by Jasdeep Randhawa

Habitat III PrepCom3 in Surabaya Takes One Step Closer to Next 20 Years

Last week, in Surabaya, a city in the East Java province of Indonesia, which is famous for its green and inclusive urban planning, witnessed many activities as it hosted PrepCom3, the last Preparatory Committee before the Habitat III Conference to be held in Quito in October.  About 4,200 delegates from 142 countries participated in PrepCom 3.  As always, youth and children were active, both inside and outside of the United Nations conference process (we suggest you to check out twitter #H3Youth to get a sense of the experience).


So what happened at PrepCom3 in Surabaya and what were the outcomes from the perspective of youth that emerged from the conference?

PrepCom3 was the last big major push towards the the road to Habitat III. Negotiations by national governments were in full swing to finalize the text of the New Urban Agenda.  At this 11th hour, diplomats, civil society members, local government advocates and major groups were all seen running in the conference room and hallways, voicing their critical input (as this blog is being written, however, we heard that delegates fell short of agreeing and they will push for it again in New York in late August/early September).

However, there was no hiding the fact that everyone’s focus was already shifting to beyond the New Urban Agenda, during PrepCom3.  Of course, what lies “beyond” Habitat III is 20 years of making sure that the Agenda becomes a reality in the cities all over the world.  In this context, one of the most exciting highlights from Surabaya was a vision of youth as an essential partner for the New Urban Agenda’s implementation, monitoring and its evaluation.  Youth actions and messages from Surabaya made this point impossible to miss.  In our view, we witnessed a positive and powerful turning point for #H3youth at PrepCom3.


Visit to Mathare by Youth Envoy


Great to see  to the Secretary General, visiting once again the  Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group (M.E.C.Y.G). As he states, some huge leaps forward in services at the centre with the the development of the ‪‎Innovate‬ Kenya‬ ICT and Entrepenruship programs, the great work of the iHub – Nairobi’s Innovation Hub and their Kio Kits, the continued focus on public space and football, and of course the indomitable spirit of the Mathare community and its youth!!!

On Friday July 22nd, the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi joined UN-Habitat and the Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group (M.E.C.Y.G) to check the youth-led projects in Mlango Kubwa community in Mathare. It was his second visit of this community and he was very impressed to see the progress the youth center made since 2014.


Mlango Kubwa community lies at the periphery of one of Nairobi’s biggest slums. Like everywhere else, young people face many challenges there, from access to safe spaces to access to resources and opportunities. What distinguish them from others though is their drive, enthusiasm and willingness to strive for change. They take no chances and work together to make their community a better place for all, but especially for the children and young people.


We were equally inspired and enchanted by the spirit of this youth. After we saw how they claimed burned-down space in the middle of their community, negotiated with authorities and built their first ever community football field with minimum resources and their hard work, we couldn’t not work with them. We wanted to support them so they can carry on their fantastic work and offer more opportunities for young people to grow in healthy environments.


With the help of Samsung, we built a fully equipped ICT center that offers not only access to internet, but access to knowledge. As part of our Innovate Kenya project, UN-HABITAT and its academic partners developed a series of E-learning courses that come with the Samsung donated equipment. There are number of courses on offer, including project management, marketing or urban agriculture.


Envoy’s visit to Mlango Kubwa meant a lot for the local youth, as well as for all of us who tagged along. It was great to watch how they presented their achievements with pride. It was even more touching to hear Envoy’s words of admiration and appreciation at the end.


Keep it up guys!





East Africa Cup 2016 – One week in Moshi, the whole year in community

For the second time, UN-HABITAT joined the wider Sport for Development (SPD) community to lend a helping hand at East Africa Cup in Moshi, Tanzania. Despite the budget cuts, which allowed “only” about 1000 children and youth from the region to participate (as opposed to standard 2000+), the event was buzzing with laughter, joy and motivation to create new friendships and learn from each other. The inspiration and energy drawn from “One week in Moshi” often sparks the motivation and enthusiasm to carry the positive messages and action for “the whole year in the community”.


UN-HABITAT jumps in to deliver one of the morning educational sessions, naturally on Youth & Urbanization. This year, the focus was mainly on Urban – Rural Linkages and Active Citizenship. 53 young men from various marginalized communities in Tanzania and Kenya participated in the three-day workshop, discussing the “push” and “pull” factors for human migration between villages and cities and the urban challenges in towns. Using play and cooperative games to spice up the knowledge-sharing, and the theme of football to keep it interesting, the boys came up with some very interesting findings.


Somewhat surprising was the gender-element brought to surface. Hardly-ever do we hear from boys, especially as young as 12 year olds, to include “escape from early-marriage” as a reason for many girls to leave the villages. Furthermore, when outlining the contemporary urban challenges in their communities, they mentioned “girls being forced to prostitution” and “rape” among others. It is hard to say whether this gender-sensitivity comes from experience or education but in any way, it is important and really great that boys are starting to speak up for girls.


Now when EAC 2016 is over, we can start building on the newly gained knowledge, draw lessons and develop further our current and new partnerships to make the next edition even more extraordinary!


Social entrepreneurship for youth development


Anoka's photo

Image courtesy GE

Young people at 1.8 billion (per UN) are some of the biggest contributors of human capital in the world. We have a role to play in our own development as well as the development of our communities. This has resulted in us being increasingly recognized as key participants in decision-making and development processes.

However with an increasing rise in population, there is a rise in youth unemployment. Almost 75 million young people are unemployed worldwide (per ILO).  With education being increasingly unaffordable for most youth, especially in Asia, the ability to be employed in a sector of their preference is quite low. In such instances, social enterprise has been seen to change the status quo, offering the ability to change lives while creating revenue.

Social entrepreneurship is not a new phenomenon, but it has risen to prominence over the past decades. Ashoka’s definition of social entrepreneurship as “catalysts of system wide social change” excludes a greater part of young people below the age of 18 as a majority of youth-led initiatives are not making “system wide change.”

However, youth led social enterprises have been creating changes that have being changing systems indirectly for years. Youth social entrepreneurial ventures, young people’s ideas and energy can contribute meaningfully in community building, social change and leadership skills, while facilitating their own development.

In South Asia, Mangrove based social enterprises have created over 5000 employment opportunities while conserving the environment by advocating for alternative livelihoods of the like of eco-tourism and organic farming. In Sri Lanka, Mangroves were officially protected and conserved through legislation in 2015 through a Presidential declaration by the current president. Such changes in legislation can be achieved when young people have been able to contribute through long-term action.

In India, youth led solar power social enterprises are changing the face of the power struggle seen in rural villages, with villagers gaining a monetary income through grid contribution. This also results in the end of the vicious cycle of bribing for power connections.

Therefore using social entrepreneurship as a tool to support youth development would result in more innovative and more sustainable community held solutions for social issues. This turn would lead to more equitable and more habitable world for all of us, man and animal alike due to the environmental and social harmony created through social enterprise. In my capacity as a UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board Representative for Asia, I will advocate for social entrepreneurship in urban interventions to empower young people to address our “wicked challenges” through new tools and mechanisms.

Author: Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne, UN-HABITAT Youth Advisory Board



Youth as Leaders of Today and Tomorrow