Youth redesigning city districts

Ungdomskommissionen, Stockholm City Hall, Sweden

SDG 4: Quality educationSDG 5: Gender equalitySDG 8: Decent work and economic growthSDG 10: Reduced inequalitiesSDG 11: Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 16: Peace justice and strong institutionsSDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
Ungdomskommissionen (The Youth Commission) was an initiative by Stockholm Municipality to engage youths during their summer holidays, and at the same time get crucial input on the city’s challenges. The municipality hired 14 young people between the ages of 16-19 representing Stockholm’s 14 districts. The work was situated at the City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. The aim was to create ideas and prototypes that would give the municipality a youth perspective on the city’s challenges, helping the development to proceed in a positive direction. The project was documented continuously and in the end of a three-week period they presented their solutions to responsible local politicians, officials and other stakeholders.

More than one sixth of Stockholm’s population are children between the ages of 0-15 years and almost 60 % of the population live in the suburbs. These people are often underrepresented in decision-making and the development of the city. Until now, good examples of city planners designing the city targeting youth, and specifically girls, are few.

Good practice & solutions

Together with Methodkit, Global Utmaning arranged a workshop at the City Hall in Stockholm for the youths participating in The Youth Commission and various stakeholders. Hence, the workshop was conducted with a mix of youths and adults professionalized in urban development. First, the participants were briefed about urban planning targeting girls and young women. This was followed by a workshop in which the attendants discussed the questions: How do you experience the city? How do you wish the city would be like? What solutions can be implemented in order to improve the city? With these questions as a framework, they brainstormed randomly about different subjects regarding the city structure. The subjects could for example be; suburbs, health, green areas, street life, or safety and security.

Outcome & opportunities

Together they highlighted many good ideas and practices. It was noticeable that the youths tended to take a wider perspective than the adults, thinking of the city as a whole instead of narrowing their ideas down to a specific area or a specific issue. The adults mostly focused on perceptions and solutions targeting the city centre. The participants were also more engaged with coming up with solutions rather than describing their perception of the city as it is today. The ideas were very reasonable, simple and solution oriented. Most of all, they showed a great interest and willingness to be more included in the city planning and developments of their own area.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Young people are extremely creative, analytic and tend to look at things from a broad perspective. During the workshop they also showed a vast interest to be included in the plans of the city. When adults interpret their voice and trying to recreate what they think youth want, it is significantly less effective than incorporating the young people into the process. This user group sees the city from a broader perspective and has many suggestions and solutions which must be seen as a force to improve the city, and not be treated as a group with a lack of ability to change.

Related SDG targets
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
  • 5.c Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: Rosanna Färnman/Global Utmaning

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Project: Urban Girls Movement