For the first time in our history, over half of humankind lives in urban areas.

By 2050, cities will be home to 70% of the projected 9 billion people, leaving no doubt that the success or failure of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be determined in cities.

In this rapidly urbanizing world, cities are forced to ask tough questions about how they can solve the unprecedented challenges ahead of them, from building adequate housing, providing access to decent public transportation and ensuring supply of safe drinking water to building resilience to climate change and providing walkable streets and green public spaces where we can live healthy and productive lives. 

And yet with those challenges and vulnerabilities comes the enormous power of cities to change the world. Occupying only 3% of the planet’s surface, these dynamic and complex organisms concentrate world’s best knowledge and resources, and capacity to innovate. They also represent the homes of millions of young people.

"The Sustainable Development Goals are a young and urban affair"

Half of the world’s population today is under the age of 30, with a large majority of them already living or aspiring to live in urban areas. Young people are 40% more likely to move to cities, and what they bring along is unwavering belief in a great future and readiness to contribute their energy, creativity, ambition, capacity for activism, boundless imagination and ability to conceive of a better world.

And still, young people's potential to effect positive change has not yet been entirely realized. Young people can be viewed as passive recipients rather than enablers of change, a problem rather than a solution. Young people are rarely invited to the decision-making table and too often, they have limited means to participate in public life.

This is the gap that the Local Pathways Fellowship aims to fill.

Widely referred to as 'the future', young people have the potential to play a vital role in achieving the SDGs by transforming the cities they call 'home' into sustainable communities. From Tokyo to Sao Paulo, the Local Pathways Fellowship will provide young people across the world with the tools and resources to promote local ownership of the Goals and to create more prosperous and liveable cities and neighbourhoods.


Anastasiya Kostomarova

Project Lead, Local Pathways Fellowship
UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth Initiative