Youth Manifesto for Greener Cities of the Future: The Voice of the Youth in Urban Greening

The voice of the youth is emerging as a powerful catalyst for shaping greener, healthier, and more resilient urban areas. As cities aspire to be champions for the power of plants, it is increasingly critical that the contributions of young people to the success of urban greening initiatives are recognised and enhanced.

AIPH, in partnership with the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN), is providing a platform for young voices to be heard through the AIPH Youth Award: a new addition to the AIPH World Green City Awards 2024. This award highlights urban greening initiatives from among the list of 21 Finalists which are most aligned with five core principles and associated criteria developed by Youth Jury applicants—a representative sample of the global youth constituency. These principles clearly articulate the needs and aspirations of young people in securing our collective urban future, and underscore what city-led actions will inspire young people and fulfil their needs for a greener tomorrow.

PRINCIPLE 1: GREENING ACTIVITIES THAT INSPIRE THE YOUTH

Youth today are deeply inspired by urban greening activities that create safe, accessible, and engaging spaces where diverse groups of young people can play, gather, and connect with nature. Activities which provide recreational spaces and foster social cohesion and intergenerational interaction serve to promote a sense of community engagement and belonging that resonates profoundly. According to the urban leaders of tomorrow, cities should prioritise ecological conservation and biodiversity through greening activities which include the planting of native species and creation of habitats for urban wildlife. These initiatives will allow young people to actively participate in ecological restoration and conservation, instilling a sense of responsibility and pride in their local environment.

PRINCIPLE 2: STRATEGIES THAT IMPACT THE YOUTH

Bold and innovative urban greening strategies are those that provide multifaceted solutions to urban challenges while engaging youth in meaningful ways. This includes designing multifunctional spaces that support a range of youth-centred activities and which incorporate technology as a means of making urban greening more interactive and engaging. Long-term projects like tree planting initiatives offer young people the opportunity to witness the growth and transformation of their urban environments over time, fostering a lifelong connection to green spaces. Educational spaces that promote local biodiversity and interactive learning experiences further enhance the appeal of these initiatives.

PRINCIPLE 3: YOUTH ENGAGEMENT IN URBAN GREENING INITIATIVES

Youth engagement in urban greening is key to empowering young people. Successful initiatives are those where the youth are consulted early in the planning process and involved in implementation and maintenance. By providing platforms for youth to voice their opinions and participate in decision-making, cities can ensure that their needs and ideas are reflected in urban greening initiatives. Creating mentorship programmes, capacity-building opportunities, and pathways for youth to embrace green jobs and professions further enables youth engagement. These initiatives provide practical skills and employment opportunities and foster a deeper understanding of and commitment to environmental stewardship.

PRINCIPLE 4: THE ROLE OF THE YOUTH IN DELIVERING URBAN GREENING

Youth leadership in urban greening fosters innovation and sustainability. Cities that support youth-led projects and recognise the contributions of young environmental entrepreneurs are paving the way for a greener urban future for generations to come. Empowering youth to lead awareness campaigns, promote sustainable lifestyles, and maintain green spaces through education and mentorship programmes amplifies their inspirational role in the urban green transition. By involving young people in research and innovation, cities can further enhance creative solutions to urban challenges. Cities in which the youth are provided opportunities to engage in urban greening initiatives are those which showcase that they are at the forefront of transformational change.

PRINCIPLE 5: KEY FEATURES THAT THE YOUTH DESIRE IN FUTURE GREEN CITIES

The youth envision future green cities as inclusive, sustainable, and resilient. They desire cities where abundant green and blue spaces are accessible to all, close to their homes, and designed with their needs in mind. Youth-led initiatives and programmes that create and maintain these spaces are critical, as is their involvement in decision-making processes. Integrating green infrastructure, promoting urban farming, and enhancing food security are key features that youth wish to see in addition to sustainable transport and circular economy solutions. Living walls and green roofs on buildings designed with sustainable materials and energy-efficient technologies further exemplify the kind of urban environment that young people aspire to create.

This collaboration of AIPH with the global youth makes it clear that young people seek a future where plants and nature are integrated in all aspects of city form and function and where the urban leaders of tomorrow are heard, engaged, and empowered to contribute to the realisation of this vision. Based on the principles above, a dedicated Youth Jury has selected a shortlist of three entries for the AIPH Youth Award 2024. Case studies of these youth-centred urban greening initiatives can be found here. The winner of the AIPH Youth Award, the entry most likely to inspire the youth and fulfil their needs for a greener urban future, will be announced at a dedicated Awards Ceremony alongside the category winners and Grand Winner of the AIPH World Green City Awards 2024.

↑ Back to top