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Children and Youth and the Urban Environment: Addressing Unique Needs and Challenges Faced in Informal Settlements and Slums

More than 350 million children live in slum households, most often deprived of the basic rights. Focusing on these children is a global imperative. How can you contribute?

Thomas George


date June 29, 2022 | 17:30 - 19:00
Multifunction Hall Room 9
Equitable urban futures
NE 149


Children and youth represent a growing portion of the urban population, particularly among those living in informal settlements and slums with limited access to basic services and adequate housing. Of the 1 billion people living in informal settlements and slums, approximately 350 to 500 million are below the age of 18. Children living in inadequate housing often have limited access to basic services, including access to water, sanitation, solid waste management, clean energy, community infrastructure and drainage, secure tenure, healthcare facilities, schools and social services and are more vulnerable to the impacts of disasters, climate change, conflict, and global pandemics. A wealth of research demonstrates a direct correlation between the quality, location, and affordability of housing and a child’s ability to survive and realize their full potential. Despite perceptions of the so called ‘urban advantage’, a recent report by UNICEF demonstrates that in many countries the most disadvantaged children in urban areas are worse off than children in rural areas, further increasing the urgency for policy makers, multi-laterals, and development practitioners to address the unique needs of urban children and youth in a proactive manner. With an increasing number of child-headed households and children representing a significant portion of the population in urban slums, new development approaches and practices are required to elevate the voices of children and youth, protect their rights, and more directly address their development needs and priorities, which housing is central to. Data collection methods must also be adapted to capture the scope of need among children and youth in urban areas who are often not counted or accounted for in survey tools and therefore often remain underserved. Through a panel discussion, UNICEF and development sector partners will address the unique needs of children living in urban areas and call for action to improve children and youth access to adequate housing and basic services and promote youth participation in urban governance and planning.


• Launch the Children, Cities, and Housing: Rights and Priorities discussion paper • Raise awareness and visibility around the unique challenges faced by children and youth in urban environments and advocate for better policies, programming, and resourcing to support the upgrading of informal settlements and slums. • Advocate for the use of innovation and technology along with people-centered and community-led approaches to facilitate better data collection, evidence-based programming and planning, and the coordination of data and information. • Encourage development of comprehensive urban housing strategies and programming that are built on people- and child-centered, approaches, that ensure the participation of individuals from vulnerable and marginalized populations in governance, decision-making, planning, and implementation processes. • Highlight the need to allocate more resources and technical expertise to child-appropriate urban planning and governance in the upgrade of informal settlement and slums, with a focus on improving the adequacy of housing, energy efficiency, green recreational spaces, street safety, and finding local solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change. • Build multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder partnerships to address the housing and development needs of children in urban areas through a common vision and objectives, and pool together resources, knowledge, innovation, and capacity to achieve greater outcomes and impact.

Session speakers

Mr. Thomas George
Global Lead, Urban
Mr Robert Ndugwa
Chief, Data and Analytics
UN Habitat
Mr Stephen Seidel Director, International Housing Programs
Habitat for Humanity International
Mr Soumen Bagchi
Senior Programme Specialist