|At the beginning of the 21st century,
the ramifications of rapid urban development affect each and everyone one
of us, but it is the younger generation that will have to live with the
choices their elders, politicians and businessmen have made. Because
the participants of the Youth Forum are relatively young, the majority
of them have probably never studied urban development formally, and it
is also unlikely that they have ever held political office. However,
these young people--be they from Sao Paulo, New York, Tashkent, or Dakar--know
how urban development affects their lives. Therefore, it is crucial
that their voices are not discounted.
The Youth: Partners
In the context of improving living conditions
in human settlements, the Youth Forum is working to take part in the formulation
and implementation of policies and strategies particularly related to Habitat
Agenda and Agenda 21. This situation is recognized and promoted in
paragraph 120(a) of the Habitat Agenda. Principle 25 of the Rio Declaration
and paragraph 120(b) of the Habitat Agenda foresee youth playing an active
and creative role in building sustainable communities. Paragraph
182(n) of the Habitat Agenda further stipulates that youth should be accepted
as a key partner for the implementation processes. Despite the fact
that young people are the dynamic and enthusiastic segment of society,
planning with youth is unfortunately not an integral component of national
development programs in most countries. This situation is aggravated
by insufficient inter-institutional coordination, lack of basic data and
research, limited financial resources allocated to youth issues and lack
A democracy with short legislation periods
creates a situation in which those who are politically responsible tend
to plan only for periods of a few years, but not for decades or centuries.
Usually, their actions are related only to the present. That is,
they are shaped by the wishes and needs of voting citizens, while the interests
of future generations and non-voting youth remain unconsidered. Today’s
decision makers too often make decisions for the effect of which they won’t
have to take the responsibility in their position – who remains in office
for 50 years?
Need for Future
Considering the above-mentioned issues,
we conclude that there is a need for future ethics: Just as the freedom
of the individual ends where the freedom of the next one begins, so the
future of every generation should be limited by the freedom of future generations.
Dieter Birnbacher, a moral philosopher of future ethics, summarizes the
problem: “The promise to prolong the bliss of the present leads to neglect
of the future.” The sustainability principle is massively violated
because our society wants to make short-term profits and reap immediate
advantages, purchased with the misery of future generations. Indeed,
the “futurization” of ecological problems poses an existential threat for
today’s youth. The happiness of present generations is bought with
the misery of future generations. Already today’s children and youths
will be affected. In the face of present and future problems, the
Youth can no longer accept such a short-sighted policy. We need a
new future ethics in order to preserve the chances of future generations.
The Brundtland commission defined ‘sustainable development’ as a ‘development
that satisfies the present needs without risking that future generations
cannot satisfy their own needs.’ Hans Jonas, the former propagator
of future ethics, formulated a new ethics of responsibility as early as
1979: “Act in a way that makes sure your actions are consistent with the
permanence of genuine human life on earth”.
Prior to the Youth Forum, a pre-meeting
will be held for two days in order to prepare a guideline titled, “Youth
Contributions to Sustainable Urban Development.“ This guideline will
include the input of the participating organizations and will be a resource
document for young people dealing with sustainable urban development all
over the world.
This forum will include nine 20- to 30-year-old
panelists coming from: Africa (2), the Americas (2), Asia (2), Australia
(1) and Europe (2) in order to discuss the theme, “Sustainable Urban Development.“
Several youth organizations have been actively involved in youth-related
activities for creating more viable and sustainable cities. These
organizations have gained great experience during such activities and projects,
and their potential should be transferred to other youth initiatives or
organizations. Transferability is a crucial component of sustainability,
which requires the regular flow of information and experiences.
In the beginning, the participants will
be asked to reach a common understanding on the following sustainability
||In an ecologically sustainable society,
no generation releases more harmful substances than the air, water and
soil can absorb. Renewable resources are not used beyond their capacity
to renew themselves. Before using non-renewable resources, the needs
of future generations are considered. In a financially-sustainable
society, no generation lives in excess of its means or forces later generations
to pay for its consumption. In short: in an ecologically- and financially-sustainable
world, one does not live at the expense of one’s children. These
principles go hand in hand with a fair distribution of resources between
North and South, between the poor and the rich, between men and women.
After that, they are asked what this –
as a consequence – means for urban areas. It will be ensured that
each of the panelists are well aware of the World Report prior to arrival.
It is important that the sustainability concept be defined, and goals for
the future be set. Necessary improvements can only be made after
the young leaders explain which problems effect them now and what they
foresee in the future. They shall also discuss what their contribution
to change could be. Secondly, the draft guideline will be presented,
other recommendations included, and the document will be finalized.
During this event, a preparatory meeting
is also planned with the young participants on the way to Istanbul +5.
The Youth Forum will be chaired by Mr. Martin Viehöver (FRFG).