When cities grow rapidly, residents often find that they have few opportunities to decide what they want for their cities. City officials are also challenged to meet increasing demands for decent housing, basic services, transport, employment, crime prevention and urban environmental preservation.

Additionally, rapid and unplanned urbanisation can make cities more susceptible to disasters, particularly so for informal urban settlements, which have the highest exposure to disaster risks due to their lack of adequate infrastructure and basic services. Informal settlements do not necessarily exist outside of the formal city economy. In fact, some estimates suggest that informal settlements can provide up to 30 percent of a city’s labour needs[1]. Conversations around urban resilience, however often happen in a vacuum, removed from the very people – children and young people – in informal settlements whose lives are affected by these decisions.

Young people, as users and owners of cities, are valuable and uniquely positioned to develop solutions to today’s urban problems.

In working with city governments in Jakarta and Manila to engage with vulnerable communities, my teams find that the key is to empower young people, especially girls and young women. Our projects, therefore, build the capacity of young people who can design and prototype solutions to urban issues in their communities.

Through these projects, I have identified a few key learnings to empower young people as solution-makers:

  • Use the Participatory Action Research model to engage young people as change agents from the outset
  • Use human-centred design principles and design-sprint approaches to train young people to become ‘solution innovators’
  • Provide capacity building training to young entrepreneurs

Read the full article about empowering young solution-makers by Anna Saxby avpn.