Officials from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa said on Wednesday that young people play a critical role in the development of cities and encouraged youth from BRICS countries and the rest of the world to promote the joint development of youth and cities.
They made the remarks during the BRICS Youth Summit in Beijing. The event was attended by around 300 representatives from 51 countries and 29 international organizations both online and offline.
Fu Zhenbang, vice-president of the All-China Youth Federation, said that young people are the most dynamic and ambitious force in society and the strength of youth must be given full play in order to achieve high-quality urban development.
As the world currently faces unprecedented challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary for BRICS countries, where a large number of the world's youth population live, to turn challenges into opportunities by working together to build youth development-oriented cities, Fu said.
Noting that there is increasing migration from rural to urban areas to seek better economic opportunities in South Africa, Asanda Luwaca, executive chairwoman of the country's National Youth Development Agency, said it is critical to promote rural-urban integration through efforts such as job creation and the promotion of entrepreneurship.
Luana de Lima Machado, national secretary of the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights of Brazil, said her country is working to motivate young people to start businesses and to be more involved in government and political affairs.
Dmitry Vavilin, mayor of Ulyanovsk, Russia, said young people are very innovative and importance should be attached to their opinions on the future development of cities.
He called on efforts to align different platforms including the BRICS framework so that young people will be able to make their voices better heard in the world.
Nitesh Kumar Mishra, joint secretary of the Indian Department of Youth Affairs, said, "Youth are a valued asset for socioeconomic development, and it is time to empower youth to explore innovative ideas to tackle development challenges."
He also highlighted the need to create an enabling environment for them to engage in local and regional policymaking frameworks, saying that "young voices and their engagement are of utmost importance in the development and implementation of urban policy and planning".
In a declaration issued after the 14th BRICS Summit held in June, BRICS leaders agreed to support youth development as a priority and encourage strengthened exchanges.