History of the project

This website seeks to share the outcomes of the project Youth and Land – youth perspectives for city governance. The project was born as a result of the collaboration between Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), whose goal is to contribute to poverty alleviation through land reform, improved land management and security of tenure for all, and UN-Habitat, UN agency responsible to address housing and sustainable urban development issues.

In recent years both organizations developed marks to understanding access to land under the perspective of gender and grassroots communities. Those experiences had originated a third line of research focused on young people, a gap identified from two important factors of the present context: the large number of young people in the world population and the rising urbanization.

About one quarter of world population (24,7%) is between 15 and 29 years old (U.S Census Bureau, 2014), the biggest number of young people that had ever existed [1]. To 2030 the forecast is that 60% of urban population will be under 18, almost all of them living in slums and informal settlements (ONU-Habitat, 2013). However little is said on youth when the subject is access to land, and even less when it comes to access to land in the urban context. What is the relation between youth and land in the city? How do youth access land? How do local public policies incorporate them? Do young people are more concerned about public spaces than about housing and property? Those are some questions that GLTN and UN-Habitat have been reflecting on and the subjects they have been seeking to develop referential content about, with the intention to offer insights to the creation of a global politic, built from local experiences articulated by young people. This way, they promoted research projects in five cities in Brazil, Yemen, Nepal, Kenya and Zimbabwe. São Paulo was chosen for the pilot project in Brazil.

All these countries are part of the regions that currently have the biggest number of young people in their populations. It is estimated that 85% of global youth (15-24 years) live in developing countries (UN-Habitat, 2011). Additionally, the cities of these countries are responsible for 90% of the world’s urban population growth (UN-Habitat, 2013).

Each project approached one aspect of the relation between youth and land, and the focus of São Paulo was the participation of youth in land governance. This topic was chosen because the GLTN and UN-Habitat understand that improving land governance is fundamental to the realization of a wide range of development outcomes and not marginalization of some groups of the population (UN-Habitat, 2013). Also because they understand that given the difference between the perceptions of adults and young people about access and rights to land, the voices of youth need to be heard.

Despite of youth being in political and social agendas –be considered a key player for the future of nations and be at the center of recent events of mobilization and protests around the world– young people still are not sufficiently involved and/or legitimized in governance processes.

Thus, the strategies used for the realization of the project were:

  • Understanding the key concepts related to the subject being researched from academic and governmental and multilateral organizations references;
  • Legal analysis of existing laws related to the subject in order to understand how responsive to youth they are, what is intended with them and what are the gaps for their implementation (Federal Constitution, Statute of the City, Statue of Youth);
  • Contextual analysis based on official indicators;
  • Informal conversations with representatives of government and social movements to understand mechanisms and forms of participation that currently exist;
  • Online survey to expand references on the vision of the youth on the topic and theirs forms of participation;
  • Case studies with young people from the periphery and downtown areas of the city for surveying perceptions and practices on access to land and youth participation in land governance in the city;
  • Data Mining to mapping mechanisms and forms of youth participation in governance processes and solutions for cities.

We know this is only a small picture of reality, which brings limitations, however, it also brings ideas about ways of political and social action. We hope this is the beginning of a process that extends and expands youth participation in the governance of the city of São Paulo. This way, together we can strengthen existing forms and find new ways of participation and methodologies of intervention.

We believe in the collaborative power of people and sectors to find more effective solutions. Increase awareness that we live “as a network” is one of the premises of this work as well as the valorization of this manner of operation and organization –from the collective construction, through the encounter between people in the city and with the numerous possibilities of Internet.


[1] Although the UN considers youth people from 15 to 24 years old, we considered Young people those who have between 15 and 29 years, because this is the age period established as a youth in Brazil, country where the project was carried out.