Youths and Their Urban Future

Posted: November 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

As the world is exposed to never ending rapid urbanization (mostly in developing countries), it is bringing both opportunities and challenges to the urban world. Along with the increasing possibilities and opportunities, the youths are exposed to more danger and challenges in the cities, the major one being unemployment. This illustrates that they are being excluded from their basic rights. The global recession in the recent years has forced significant number of young people out of jobs in both developed and developing countries. And youths are three times vulnerable to unemployment than their counterpart adults.

The story of urban youth unemployment

Half the world’s unemployed are under 24, according to a new International Labour Organization (ILO) study that charts the skyrocketing of youth unemployment over the past decade. The figures show that global youth unemployment increased from 11.7% in 1993 to an historical high of 14.4% (88 million) in 2003, a 26.8% increase in the total number of unemployed young people over the past decade.

According to a publication of Nepal Labour Force Survey (NLFS 2008) compared with of 1998, the youth unemployment rate from 7.6% has now increased to 13%. This explains why it is so easy to organise political demonstrations in urban centres creating more social crimes, instability and increasing number of youths moving out of country for foreign employment. Nepal is one of the largest countries to export human resources to foreign lands challenging the economic and social development of our own country. Not the only factor but the unemployment is one of the major factors for crimes, political violence, social instability and terrorism threatening the social security and stability of a country.

This story doesn’t end with the unemployed youth only……..

The story of employed youth

One-fourth of the world’s 550 million working poor are young, meaning some 130 million young people are not able to lift themselves and their families above the US$1 a day poverty line. The majority of these young working poor are women, the report says. The young people are often underemployed or underpaid or over-exploited, keeping them out of the opportunities of healthy and decent living.

Approximately one billion youth live in the world today. The majority (almost 85%) of the world’s youth live in developing countries, with approximately 60% in Asia alone. And by 2025, the number of youth living in developing countries is expected to grow to 89.5%.

According to estimates of the ILO, more than one hundred million new jobs would have to be created within the next twenty years in order to provide suitable employment for the growing number of young people in the economically active populations of developing countries. Therefore the youth issues should be taken seriously on the development agendas and policies of every country.

Its not that the world isn’t trying to address the youth agendas, there are over 24 declarations, conventions and convents concerning youth that deals with the rights of youths and protection of youths. But the fact is that the world leaders don’t bother to care enough about the concerns of youths, and undermine their potential.

Beside high unemployment rate, there are numerous challenges that the global urban youth are facing. Social insecurity, inadequate, inaccessible and hardly affordable health, education and housing services, problems associated with environmental degradation and unaffordable basic urban services like rations, transportation and energy are some of the major challenges faced urban youth. The infrastructure, services and opportunities in cities available for youth is often the biggest part lacking in development, sustainability and sustainable human settlements. Also one of the largest development setback faced by the country is that it exports people (largely youths which are meant to be pillars of socio-economic development) rather than products as government can’t utilized these human resources in a productive way and tapped their potential or create opportunities.

Providing all the urban youths with decent housing, security of tenure, opportunities and employment, and healing the urban divide isn’t impossible but also not easy to achieve it.  Commitment and cooperation between youth organizations governmental and local institutions, public and private sectors, along with international organisations and UN, and working towards ensuring the decent employment opportunities for youths are foremost and vital. Most importantly prioritizing the most needy and vulnerable urban youths and developing a platform to support and inspire youths to play an active and creative role in building sustainable communities and minimising the urban divide is essential.

It is better knowing the fact that youth participation leads to better decisions and it is integral part of democratic system……..

Chances for youths in political and social participation and in urban governance must be ensured. The participatory approach in the urban planning will be one of the best solutions to the increasing urban divide that will ensure the voicing from all the urban communities including youths and exclusive urban communities. The will further foster partnership, supportiveness and ownership in urban planning for a common goal of sustainable human settlement and inclusive city. To achieve this, an inclusive youth policies is vital ensuring the participation of most vulnerable and excluded youths among the youth communities.

Environmental degradation (and problems associated with air, water and soil pollution), depletion of resources and climate change are the major environmental challenges faced by the youths of today. These will likely to aggravate further as the paths of development carried by the world is still very unsustainable. So any urban planning development and socio-economic activities must be carried out in parallel with low carbon path and environmental sustainability. Youths and upcoming generation are those which will be affected by the present unsustainable growth in the future.

And I believe that as much as the urbanization has the diverse and large influence on the youths, the more the urban youths can influences their urban realities in greater degree and wider angle as they are the ones who define their own culture, environment and society they wish to live in.

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