Young People, Participation and Sustainable development in an Urbanizing World

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Although the proportion of young people in cities is growing rapidly, few studies take into account the diversity of and views on their urban experiences. This is an examination of the lives, capacities, and agencies of urban youth in the developing world and an identification of significant gaps for research. In particular, this book provides a highlight of the political economy of youth-focused development in an increasingly urbanizing world. Political-economic processes that shape and are shaped by young people's urban lives get particular attention. Nearly half of the people in the developing world and 30% worldwide are under 25 years of age. One in five people is between 15 and 24 years old. It is estimated that 80% of global youth live in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. However, there is a stark disparity in their geographical distribution within and between continents, regions, and countries as well as between rural and urban areas. Young people are the core of a nation’s future, yet this significant stakeholder is rarely involved in poverty reduction strategies, environmental planning, and sustainable urban development. Despite the momentum in the rhetoric on youth activism for positive social change, little regard is given to the views, opinions, needs, and perspectives of young people. In drawing attention to the relative neglect of young people in the 2006 World Urban Forum in Vancouver, Canada, Chawla, Bartlett, Driskell, Hart and Olofsson (2006) noted that of the total of over 162 panels devoted to urban issues, only a handful of networking sessions explicitly focused on young people and their urban environments. Youth, on the other hand, were well represented, with over 500 young men and women from 52 different countries. The implication of this missing population in addressing issues of sustainable development is dire.


Anne Trine Kjørholt

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