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Nairobi,Kenya, 22 Jun 09

The Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr. Wilfried Lemke, held talks with officials at UN-HABITAT headquarters in Nairobi last week to explore new ways of using sports to help improve the lives of young people living in poverty.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Productive Youth Development Forum that took place at the UN office in Nairobi.

The Forum on Productive Youth Development through Sport in Africa, a joint initiative of The United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace and the Jacobs Foundation in collaboration with the Swiss Academy for Development and the Mathare Youth Sports Association, was held from 16 June to 18 June.

The mission of the Jacobs Foundation, established in December 1988 by Klaus J. Jacobs, a renowned German businessman dealing in chocolate and coffee, in Zurich, Switzerland, is to foster productive youth development by bringing together basic research, application and intervention projects and through dialogue and network building.

The opening ceremony took place at Jacaranda Hotel on 16 June and was presided over by Mr. Lemke, accompanied by the Chairman of the Jacobs Foundation, Dr. Joh Christian Jacobs, who sponsored the conference.

The detailed discussion dwelt on youth empowerment in the context of urbanization and the growing phenomenon of slums in Africa. Also discussed was UN-HABITAT's strategic vision which is anchored in a four-pillar strategy aimed at attaining the goal of cities without slums.

Mr. Lemke appreciated the work UN-HABITAT does in close cooperation with governments, municipal councils and other partners in addressing the issue of slums and youth empowerment, while Dr. Jacobs stressed the importance of creating good practices in using sports as a tool for urban development.

The United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, Jacobs Foundation and UN HABITAT are looking forward to initiating demonstration projects that are concrete and sustainable. The ultimate outcome of these initiatives should be able to change the lives of young people and facilitate their empowerment in society.

The meeting also discussed the extent sport contributes to promoting the social inclusion of disadvantaged youth. How do different actors interested in sports development potential better share resources and ideas? Which interventions and practices have proved their effectiveness in the field and are sustainable for the future, were some of the questions the forum addressed.

Government agencies, sports organisations, the UN, sports business, NGOs and others are interested in the potential of sport to be used as a tool to reach human and social development objectives as well as to address challenges that arise from humanitarian crises.

UN HABITAT presented its ambitious strategy on the use of sport as a tool for mobilizing action and addressing most challenges facing the very fast urbanizing world. The agency entered into partnership with other UN agencies, international and national non-governmental organizations, sports federations, private sector, media and other stakeholders in the world of sport towards the achievement of this strategy.

Also discussed was the agency’s work which is directly related to the United Nations Millennium Declaration, particularly the goals of member states to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020, and the reduction by half of the number without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

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