JUNE 8, 2001

Mr. Chairman; distinguished delegates and habitat partners,

My name is Yasemin Uyar. I am from Turkey and I represent Youth for Habitat International, which is a non-governmental, non-profit open-ended international youth network. Established in 1995 with the participation of over 200 youth organisations from diverse backgrounds, the network has been working on raising awareness on the Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21 together with promoting youth perspectives in their implementation.

Mr. Chairman and Distinguished delegates,

Youth and children constitute more than half of the world's population. Living in mostly urban areas, they constitute one of the largest groups that is adversely affected by unsustainable urban development patterns. Nevertheless it should be remembered that youth with their energy, creativity, idealism and passion have the potential to help overcome problems we face today and tomorrow.

We realize that despite youth are accepted as key partners for implementation of the Habitat Agenda, youth participation in decision-making processes has not been effective enough. We call upon all the governments and other partners to intensify efforts to enhance the role of youth in decision-making processes. Through the establishment and the support of youth councils or parliaments the cooperation between youth, civil society organizations and the governments at all levels should be further developed. In order to ensure broad participation of youth, governance should be made attractive to young people.

As youth we are aware that there is still a substantial lack of understanding among young people on Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21. We realize that for developing and keeping a liveable environment for current and future generations, it is important to raise awareness among youth on this critical sustainable development issue. At the same time there is also the need to develop a dialogue between youth and governments so as to raise awareness among governmental bodies and institutions on youth issues. We believe that this would allow our governments to realistically address the concerns and problems of young people and create an environment in which the true potential of young people could be seen and appreciated.

We are deeply concerned that the declaration on cities and other human settlements in the new millennium does not refer in a substantial way to concepts of sustainability and intergenerational ,justice. It fails to acknowledge the rights and interests of today's youth and future generations. We have the impression that the Istanbul spirit in accepting youth as a key partner for achieving the Habitat goals is weakened. On the occasion of this special session, we as youth, would like to remind our governments of the promises they have made during the Habitat II Conference and call upon them to fulfill their commitments to the youth related articles of the Habitat Agenda. We want to bring to the attention of governments that principle 25 of the Rio Declaration and paragraph 120 of the Habitat Agenda emphasize the importance of enabling youth to play an active and creative role in building sustainable human settlements. It is important that the role of young people in creating sustainable livelihoods is, fully acknowledged and mechanisms to utilize their full potential are established.

As young people, we recognize our role in creating sustainable human settlements and commit ourselves to fulfilling our responsibilities. We ask our fellow governments as our mentors and partners to join our efforts in achieving this goal.

Thank you.