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UN official stresses youth role in urban development
By:China Daily
update:October 31,2023
Oct.31, 2023 -- As leaders of tomorrow, young people play a crucial part in urban development, and many cities around the world put them at the forefront of their strategic plans, said the top official of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.
"During my visit to Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai in this China trip, I saw quite many young, ingenious professionals employed at different companies and institutions," said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, under-secretary-general of the United Nations and executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, or UN-Habitat.
"I learned that a large proportion of the employees there are young, and women take up a big ratio. I'm very pleased and surprised as it's very important for societies to be inclusive, especially to the young," she said on the sidelines of the World Cities Day China Observance, which opened in Shanghai on Saturday and is being jointly hosted by China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the Shanghai government and UN-Habitat.
Cities are at the center of economic growth and job opportunities, and 70 percent of the world's population will be in cities by 2050.
UN-Habitat emphasizes development for young people, and it has a youth advisory group that collects ideas at local and community levels with the philosophy of leaving no person or place behind, Sharif said.
She cited some places as good examples of promoting mutual development between young people and cities.
Malaysia, for example, has a Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the minister is quite young and can better represent and link the country's youth, she said. In Latin America's Colombia and Mexico, many young people also work in the private sector and at the community level, showing the inclusiveness of their societies, she said.
"Also, I'm impressed that in Montreal, the number of young scientists in the fields of artificial intelligence and the internet of things is quite large. I think it's fairly important to include young people in city planning, designing, implementing and operation," Sharif said.
In China, more than 200 cities have introduced employment, housing and education policies to draw young people in hopes that they will contribute to entrepreneurship, innovation and urban renewal in those places.
Li Zhe, deputy division head of planning, finance and foreign affairs at the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said that cities such as Guangzhou, Guangdong province, have explored establishing a new affordable rental housing model that enables tenants to pay monthly instead of several months at a time. It was aimed at helping new residents, especially the young, solve their housing problems, and at attracting and retaining talent for urban development.
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