Press Release No:2012/313/SDN


Transformational Catalytic Fund deployed to help address the critical set of interrelated issues that involve youth, the face of urbanization

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2012 – The Cities Alliance Secretariat has issued a second Call for Proposals to the Catalytic Fund (CATF) focused on the theme, “Youth and the City”. This is in recognition of the urgent need to address what is increasingly one of the most critical development challenges of our times, the ‘youth bulge’ in cities.

The thematic focus on “Youth and the City” signals Cities Alliance’ strategic decision to put itself in the forefront of efforts to integrate youth into sustainable city development, in line with of its overall vision of promoting the role of cities in economic growth and poverty reduction.

“Young people are the drivers of economic development in a country and an integral part of its poverty reduction and growth. Investing in youth at an early stage can help cities avoid cumulative issues linked to exclusion and missed opportunities over the long term,” says William Cobbett, Manager, Cities Alliance

The world’s population is getting younger than ever before; projections are that youths between the ages of 15 and 24 comprise 1.2 billion, or 18 percent of an estimated world population of 7 billion. The overwhelming majority, approximately 90 percent, live in the developing countries of Africa and Asia.

Predominantly, they live in cities to where they have migrated in search of jobs, better opportunities and better living conditions. Many of these cities are struggling with the demographic pressure the youth migrants exert, in addition to the already existing ones such as inadequate infrastructure or poor basic services. As a result many youths find themselves increasingly marginalized, without access to the jobs or better opportunities that had motivated their rural-urban migration in the first place. The upsurge of this disaffection is youth restiveness and protests demanding change.

The ‘Arab Spring’ phenomenon in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is arguably the most telling symbol of this youth-led demand for change. The Middle East and North Africa region is home to an estimated 90 million people aged between the ages of 15 and 24 years. They have been in the forefront of the transformation that defined the year 2011, and which has spawned similar movements in countries in other regions.

As the vehicle for this thematic focus, the CATFund was developed during 2010 as one of the core elements of the new Cities Alliance business model, replacing the former grant facility. CATFunds aim to catalyze urban transformation by connecting cities and their innovative ideas to Cities Alliance members, attract key follow up investments, as well as facilitate the sharing of the knowledge and learning distilled from project experiences on global urban challenges.

"With the issuing of this call, explains Federico Silva, Task Team Leader for the CATFund, “the Catalytic fund meets a threefold ‘catalytic’ objective: First, promoting issues which are of global relevance and urgency in a rapidly urbanizing world; Second, breaking down traditional sectoral barriers to tackle a crosscutting theme under the lenses of innovation, partnership and knowledge. Third, to provide support projects which could trigger a larger transformation process which allow for youth to be deeply engaged in the future of cities."

The thematic focus on urban youth is also being enabled by the consistent support and advocacy of the Government of Norway, a member of the Cities Alliance.  The Government’s previous interventions in this respect include the funding support provided in 2008 for the Alliance’ sponsorship of a World Bank youth essay competition on the theme, “The City of My Dreams,” and the secondment of two young staff to the Cities Alliance Secretariat in Washington DC for a period of two years. As Erik Berg, Senior Advisor in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs puts it:  “When national and world leaders talk about promoting democracy, human rights and poverty reduction, leaving cities and young people out of the equation, is like trying to fight a major forest fire with a garden hose”.

In Washington: Chii Akporji, +1-202-473-1935, 

For additional information please email:
Eligibility requirements for participation in this call are available from the Cities Alliance website at:

About the Cities Alliance
The Cities Alliance is a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and the promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development.  Members include national governments; multi-lateral organisations; the global organisations of local authorities, UCLG and Metropolis; and international networks of non-governmental organisations engaged in urban development. Cities Alliance supports cities, local and national governments and their partners in the developing world to address the challenges of rapid urbanization, and to harness the benefits and opportunities they represent for all citizens.  For more information on the Cities Alliance please visit Also follow Cities Alliance on Facebook and Twitter.