Guest article: Alice Junqueira Terra Caffaro – Eyes Turned On Youth

I am delighted to publish this guest article from my good friend Alice who heads up the Youthful Cities initiative in São Paulo. This article is also available in Portuguese here.

Alice Junqueira Terra Caffaro

Alice Junqueira Terra Caffaro

Recent years have been years of great achievements for youth. In 2013, in Brazil, we had the sanction of Law No. 12,852, “the Youth Statute”, which establishes specific rights of young people and the National System of Youth *. On a global scale, in January 2012 UN Secretary- General Ban Ki Moon announced the creation of the post of Special Adviser for Youth, a big step towards the final inclusion of the theme in international discussions.

These two milestones are part of a context of growing recognition of youth development as being important strategically for development (from a widespread global perspective) and youth as a subject of rights (a perspective advocated by Brazil).

Brazil’s position comes as an alternative to overcome the vision of “youth as problem” (one of the cores of social problems) and “youth as solution” (a key player for development), understanding that the generational prejudice needs to be fought and that, before young people can be a key player for development, they need to and should have their rights guaranteed.

It is a fact that the cited perspectives still coexist, but new multilateral, inter-ministries, intersectoral and (still tentatively) participatory initiatives point to a path of empowerment and ownership of the subject, especially by national and regional public authorities and international organizations. It is a path still under construction but, on the other hand, we have young people who are increasingly committed to demanding their rights, occupying spaces of participation and creating their own identities.

In this sense, we observe an increase in social, cultural and political ferment especially in cities, where most young people live (about 50 % of the world population is under 30 years and roughly the same percentage is living in cities – U.S. Census Bureau 2012). Thus, in this current time both a large global youth population and rapid urbanization have generated several projects and initiatives focused on youth.

Youthful citiesOne of those initiatives that really focus on youth was also born in 2013 and brought together the subjects of “youth” and “city” – Youthful Cities.

Youthful Cities is a global initiative born in Toronto, Canada, with the aim of involving young people in the process of “building better cities to live, work and play”. With several actions for engaging and expanding the dialogue among youth and about youth, the initiative developed the first Youthful Cities Index – a comparative Index which ranks cities from the perspective of youth.

Youthful cities index

In 2013, Youthful Cities was present in 25 cities around the world, including São Paulo, the only city in Brazil . The intention is to expand to 100 cities in 2014. In São Paulo various activities involving young people from all regions of the city, social organisations, government and academia were performed. Among the local results, ideas for the transformation of São Paulo in a more “youthful city” city were co-created.

To check the activity report, the proposed ideas of Youthful Cities of São Paulo and the results of the Index 2014, in Portuguese , visit:

For results and other information, in English , visit:

* Top milestones of Youth Policy in Brazil :

– 2001 onwards: Creation of committees – eg.: Commission of the City of São Paulo (2001) and Commission of the Federal Chamber (2003);

– 2005: Creation of National Youth Secretariat (SNJ) and the National Youth Council (Conjuve) ;

– 2010: Insertion the word “young” in the Federal Constitution by the Constitutional Amendment 65/2010;

– 2013: Sanction of Law No. 12,852, the “Youth Statute”, which establishes specific rights of young people and the National System of Youth.

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São Paulo – A Youthful City

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