Preface

This is the second edition of the Youth Supplement to UNFPA’s State of World Population Report. The 2007 Report focuses on urbanization; the Youth Supplement addresses the challenges and promises of urbanization as they affect young people.

In 2008, for the first time, more than half of the world’s population will live in urban
areas. By 2030, towns and cities will be home to almost 5 billion people. The urban population of Africa and Asia will double in less than a generation.

This will greatly increase the number and proportion of young people in the urban
population. Most will be born into poor families, where fertility tends to be higher.
The wave of urban population growth calls for policymakers to consult young people and reflect on their needs, both to realize individual potential and to stimulate urban economies. The challenges will include increasing the number and quality of schools; attracting new investments to create jobs and economic vitality; and providing health services, including sexual and reproductive health, so that young people can live fulfilling lives and make their own decisions on marriage and family formation.

The Youth Supplement profiles the lives of young men and women from seven cities
– Tianjin, China; San Salvador, El Salvador; Mumbai, India; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Cairo,
Egypt; Rufisque, Senegal; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Their stories give a sense of the lives of young women and men and the opportunities, pressures, and risks of modern urban living: as migrants who have left the countryside to work and make their home in the cities; as community organizers fighting for better housing and services in the margins of cities; as victims of sexual abuse and violence; sometimes even as perpetrators of violence themselves; as young women freed from traditional gender roles and discrimination; and as urbanites involved in music and culture to escape from urban poverty and insecurity, and to celebrate their lives.

The State of World Population Report points out that the urban wave of the 21st
century presents an opportunity to enhance development and promote sustainability; if the opportunity is missed, the urban wave could deepen poverty and accelerate environmental degradation. This Youth Supplement is a voice on behalf of the right of young people in the world’s cities to lives of opportunity, free of poverty, violence, and abuse.