Local Pathways Fellowship launches the second cohort of young urban leaders to make their cities “smart, fair and sustainable”

NEW YORK, December 11th: The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth Initiative (SDSN Youth) has launched its second class of selected Local Pathways Fellows (LPF) – fifty six young innovators, urban planners, architects, advocates, researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs and sustainability leaders who are “championing local pathways for sustainable development” in more than 50 cities across the world.

The LPF is a global initiative to nurture young urban leaders to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their cities. This program amplifies the impact that fellows are already making through their various endeavors and empowers them to advance progress on the SDG 11 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development within their cities.

Throughout a 12-month learning process, the program equips the fellows with resources and a platform to exchange knowledge and ideas with each other as well as with leading urban development experts and academics, fostering a participatory dialogue. Towards the conclusion of the program, the fellows will develop an idea for a local initiative aimed at solving a pressing problem that their city is facing. The results of the fellowship and the urban project ideas will be presented at the tenth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2020.


Now in its second edition, the LPF represents a broad spectrum of urban backgrounds – from megalopolis like Mexico City, Lagos, and Beijing to mid-size cities like Rajshahi, Zaria and Vancouver – these cities encompass different social, geographical and infrastructure challenges.     

The fellowship pillars and topics include but are not limited to: Inclusive and Economic Development, Consumption and Waste Management, Reducing Social and Gender Equality, Urban Mobility, Public Space, and Access to Basic Services and Infrastructure, and Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience.

Cities are getting bigger and younger and the LPF is a compelling opportunity for young urban leaders to demonstrate their essential role in delivering innovative solutions and in the future of our cities as resilient environments that foster innovation, provide pathways to new economic opportunity, and are great competitive hotbeds for growth.

We must understand that supporting cities in creating safer, smarter, and more resilient environments go hand in hand with network learning and city exchanges. That is why LPF is a community for discussion and engagement, and one that is moving the bar forward on thought leadership on sustainable urban development.

The first cohort of LPF was launched at the bi-decennial UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), as an initiative to empower youth globally in getting started with the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. The first class of LPF is a testament to the potential that youth have in shaping our urban future. We're rightfully proud in sharing some of the projects developed by the first cohort of LPF.

In one example Umesh Balwani, a Local Pathways Fellow from Mumbai, India, leveraged his presence within the Government of Maharashtra to conceptualize and draft the Maharashtra State Startup Policy 2018 which was approved by the state’s cabinet of ministers on 17th January 2018. The policy intends to catalyze the growth of an innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem for the socioeconomic development of the state. It adopts a holistic approach that involves establishing a network of incubators, relaxing regulatory requirements for startups, cultivating entrepreneurial mindsets among students, creating links between multi-sector stakeholders and making strategic investments to foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the state.

Over the next five years, this policy is expected to lead to the creation of 10,000 startups, bring in investments to the tune of $800 million and generate direct and indirect employment opportunities for around half a million people in the state. This would help Maharashtra significantly progress on the SDG 8, which emphasizes the importance of meaningful employment and inclusive growth.

To see more examples of the urban projects developed by the LPF you may click here.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network under the auspices of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, supports this initiative and say that “The aim of the Fellowship is to guide the fellows to be the creators of smart, fair and sustainable cities. This means cities that are economically prosperous, equitably fair in the benefits that they offer and environmentally sustainable.”

Aromar Revi, the Sustainable Cities MOOC lead author, Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and world’s leading advocate for putting cities at the forefront of global policy debates, also supports this initiative and emphasizes that “young people are the key agents of change, the bridge between the past and the future”  

Siamak Sam Loni, the Global Coordinator of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth, says that “Young people must be seen as key stakeholders in the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals. To create communities that offer hope instead of desperation, cities must promote a sense of belonging and treat young people as equal and capable partners.”


For more information on the Local Pathways Fellowship visit: www.localpathways.org

For media enquiries and interview requests, please contact: program@localpathways.org

SDSN was launched by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in 2012 to mobilize global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical problem solving for sustainable development, including the design and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SDSN Youth is the youth initiative of UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) , focused on empowering youth globally to create sustainable development solutions. SDSN Youth educates young people about the challenges of sustainable development and creates opportunities for them to use their creativity and knowledge to pioneer innovative solutions for the SDGs.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was launched at UN Headquarters in September 2015 and adopted by 193 member countries of the UN. The SDGs, which are relevant to all countries, aim to achieve social inclusion, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability.


Ana Ynestrillas is the Project Lead of the Local Pathways Fellowship at the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Youth Initiative. A sustainable cities and innovation advocate, her background combines experience from the public, private and non-profit sectors at the intersection of smart cities, innovation ecosystems and sustainable urban development.