I just got back from the 23rd Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) which was held at the UN-HABITAT Headquarters Nairobi, Kenya from 11th to 15th April 2011. This time under the theme: “Sustainable Urban Development through Expanding Equitable Access to Land, Housing, Basic Services and Infrastructure.”
If you are not very familiar with the UN system, the Governing Council works as a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly (UN-GA) and basically serves as the intergovernmental decision-making body of UN-Habitat. So, every two years all the governments which are members of UN-HABITAT gathers to make decisions.
The main goal of the Governing Council is:
1- To establish UN-Habitat’s policies by developing and promoting policy objectives, priorities and guidelines regarding existing and planned programmes of work in the field of human settlements;
2- To oversee working relations with partners by following closely the activities of the organisations of the UN system and other international organisations in the field of human settlements and to propose ways and means by which the over-all policy objectives and goals in the field of human settlements within the UN system might best be achieved;
3- To approve the UN-Habitat’s biennial Work Programme and Budget.
Since I am the Latin American and Caribbean representative at the UN-HABITAT Youth Advisory Board, once again I had the opportunity to attend the governing council.
At the event, our role as YAB members varies a bit, but mostly we are there to facilitate and host the Youth Caucus meetings every morning, to meet with different UN-HABITAT officials and branches to discuss youth mainstreaming strategies as well as programme collaboration opportunities and finally, to lobby and mobilize our governments to pass resolutions which support our youth efforts.
This year, on top of lobbying our governments, the youth present at the Governing Council decided to organise a FlashMob to raise our concerns among the governments which were discussing the Youth Resolution.
The idea was a bit too innovative for UN security, but on and on, we managed to get our message across and gain the support from many people which were passing by and felt passionate about our call for a more meaningful intergenerational partnership.
We managed to achieved support from the governments of Brazil and South Africa, which along Norway’s continuous support, was enough to get approved the YouthResolution which advances many fronts for us youth advocates within UN-HABITAT. (If you want to see all the resolutions which were passed, check http://www.unhabitat.org/list.asp?typeid=18&catid=658 for more information).
As a member of UN-HABITAT Youth Advisory Board it’s the second time I attend the Governing Council, and I believe we are getting better in the way we work during the GC. We also decided to create a blog, to post some of the experiences we lived while at the Governing Council. (http://unhabitatyab.wordpress.com/)