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Young people are asking that their voices be heard, that their issues be addressed and that their roles be recognized. Rather than being viewed as objects of grooming for future citizens, they want to be accepted as partners in development, in helping chart and shape the future. This is the backdrop to the Global Partnership Initiative for Urban Youth in Africa launched by UN-HABITAT at the Second World Urban Forum in 2004.

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The Global Partnership Initiative on Urban Youth Development in Africa is an initiative of UN-HABITAT in collaboration with selected cities globally. The agency regards young people as partners in building a better world and promotes their empowerment through effective and meaningful participation in decision-making. Adopted by 171 countries at the 1996 City Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, the Habitat Agenda recommends a participatory approach to promote employment, training, and crime prevention. It also stresses the role of young people in the alleviation of poverty and inequality.

In May 2003, the UN-HABITAT Governing Council adopted a resolution on the engagement of youth in the work of UN-HABITAT. Resolution GC19/13 directs the Executive Director to “ensure the active participation of UN-HABITAT in the Secretary General’s initiative on youth employment; as well as to develop a Global Partnership Initiative on Urban Youth Development in Africa, in partnership with other relevant United Nations agencies, multilateral institutions and private foundations in the context of New Partnership for Africa’s Development”. The Global Partnership Initiative is important because it seeks to integrate the Millennium Development Goals with development programmes at the city level focusing on and working with urban youth in Africa.

Consistent with a number of the Millennium Development Goals including Goal 7 Target 11 and Goal 8 Target 164, the youth initiative must be seen as an integrated effort to fulfill the goals and their targets. The youth initiative is also consistent with UN HABITAT’s global campaigns for secure tenure and urban governance, and as such is instrumental in fulfilling the objectives of these campaigns.

The Global Partnership Strategies include the creation of urban-based youth resource centres that directly support youth-led development issues, such as One Stop Youth Centres; training youth as peace builders by involving them in violence prevention strategies; and research and policy development that supports youth-led development

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