3 x 3 x 3 x 3 Youth Statement on Learning Cities

21 October 2015

Youth as co-creators of learning cities

To successfully build learning cities, all stakeholders, including youth, must be involved. Young people are the next generation of leaders and must be engaged as co-creators of learning cities. Their contribution plays a crucial role in building learning cities.

The 2nd International Conference on Learning Cities, which was held in Mexico City from 28 to 30 September 2015, provided an opportunity to engage youth in the promotion of lifelong learning in the world’s communities. At the Conference, twenty young people from different parts of the world shared their perspectives on building learning cities.

To anchor their commitment to building learning cities around the world, the youth delegates present at the Conference developed the 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 Youth Statement on Learning Cities. Among other points, this Statement calls upon national and local governments to engage youth as co-creators in the process of building learning cities. The statement was distributed during the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris, where Ms Michelle Diederichs from the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning spoke to young people from around the world about the development of learning cities and their role in the process.

At a glance: The contributions and visions of youth leaders

Ms Hayley MacQuire, Capacity Support and Advocacy Adviser, the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), Australia

Ms MacQuire shared her views on the benefits of engaging youth (particularly marginalised youth) to promote in promoting global citizenship and lifelong learning. She called for young people, particularly marginalized youth, to be engaged in policy decisions, programme development and implementation. Ms MacQuire argued that this will promote sustainability and ownership, build trust and social capital in targeted communities, and strengthen the self-determination and empowerment of young people.

Mr Al Olaimy explained that early civilizations in the Middle East pioneered the concept of learning cities. He drew parallels with today’s challenges in the Middle East, especially regarding education systems, and stated that ‘if it once was, then it can be again’. Mr Al Olaimy highlighted the importance of designing cities and values that create ecosystem services which protect the environment. Mr Al Olaimy’s social enterprise helps governments and companies to transform sustainable development challenges into opportunities for creating economic, social and environmental prosperity.

Ms Nicole Dättwyler Suárez, Entrepreneurship Training Leader, Acción Emprendedora, Chile

Ms Dättwyler addressed the impact that poverty and the lack of employment opportunities and adequate vocational and managerial skills have on youth in Chile. Acción Emprendedora supports the development of young people’s potential as entrepreneurs as a way of helping them escape poverty. The organisation views all youth and adults as having the potential to become entrepreneurial. It also sees the importance of linking the learning process to a culture of freedom, liberty and the acquisition of entrepreneurship skills, so that what is learned can be applied in everyday life for the improvement of the lives of individuals and their communities.

Ms Ana Puhac, student at University College London and member of the Earth in Brackets advocacy group, Croatia

Ms Puhac spoke about sustainability, the relationship between cities and nature, and the creation of new urban imaginaries for greener and more egalitarian, inclusive and democratic cities. Ms Puhac believes that the role of governors, practitioners and citizens is not to fix the environment, but to mediate spaces of difference, diversity and interconnectivity – not in order to reach consensus on one right approach, but to give way to multiple alternatives that build a resilient city.

Ms Graciela Messina, Researcher, Pan-American Institute for Senior Business Management (IPADE), Mexico

Ms Messina presented the conclusions drawn from case studies of the lives of eleven young people in Latin America. Despite their different backgrounds, these young people share the experience of being leaders of community projects. Her analysis of these eleven cases was based primarily on the following questions: How do young people build community? How do they make themselves part of it? How do local and international civil society organisations support the building process? How are youth communities and cities brought together in this process? The research concluded that while civil society and international development organisations bridge youth to projects and activities in cities, young people are central actors as well, as they often are the creators and leaders of such initiatives. One characteristic of youth leaders in Latin America is their dynamism which leads them to live in the present and to reinvent themselves in a context of uncertainty and job insecurity.  Such difficult contexts call for new configurations of politics, learning approaches and opportunities.

Ms Charmaine Picardo, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Ambassador, Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS), Zimbabwe

Ms Picardo highlighted the importance of ‘unpacking lifelong learning in health and wellness’ and ‘empowering citizens to adopt healthier lifestyles’. She believes that learning cities can contribute to the health and well-being of citizens by investing in the skills development of young people. Ms Picardo emphasized the importance of young citizens’ participation in policymaking and called for the recognition of young people’s expertise in communications technologies, art, and industrial and scientific innovation. Ms Picardo also drew attention to UNAIDS Fast-Track Cities as a model for addressing health and well-being issues.

Download: 3x3x3x3 Youth Statement on Learning Cities