Lucía Urrieta, Local Pathways Fellow (Paris, France), UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth Initiative

“If you know who you are and you know your place, then you know what your contribution is”. These words, from Tita Larasati of the Bandung Creative City Forum, were one of the many powerful insights that stayed with me after a week in Malaysia for the World Urban Forum 9. I had the opportunity to attend this event as a Local Pathways fellow, part of UN SDSN Youth delegation, to showcase our projects during two sessions in Kuala Lumpur.

Through my Local Pathways journey, I have discovered Paris through different lenses, changing my understanding on how I can have an impact at the local level, while bridging it with the international scale.

When I entered the fellowship I was working for Les Petits Riens (LPR), a Paris-based non-profit organization which provides youth with access to culture in underprivileged neighbourhoods. This work allowed us to witness the richness of our city, and its untapped potential and exclusions.

This is why I decided to focus on Target 4.7, which focuses on all learners having knowledge about sustainable development, promoting peace, global citizenship, cultural diversity for sustainability. Throughout the fellowship, I started figuring out how I could approach this issue through my experiences, within the SDGs.

One of my major findings was that, in Paris, sustainable development is often reduced to its environmental dimension. Although its social and economic dimensions are considered sometimes, there is rarely a comprehensive understanding. However, if we don’t grasp sustainable development’s different aspects and their integration, we will not fully understand its implication, and more importantly, what our contribution can be. This is essential because more than just city-dwellers, we need truly connected citizens.

I am thus focusing on developing a pedagogy based on education for global citizenship and sustainable development, using arts as an intuitive tool and common language amongst diversity. All type of learners (local, migrant and refugee youth) would see how they are involved in the different dimensions of sustainable development, enabling them to also understand their role as global citizens.

As this solution is in its early design stages, being part of WUF9 was a great platform to reach out to an international, diverse pool of visions, expertises, building on my initial proposal. It was the opportunity to share tools, methodologies or insights in order to enrich this vision.

But what truly made this experience unique was being part of a group of engaged young changemakers working to achieve their vision for their communities and for the world. Being able to exchange ideas and experiences with them was invigorating and very inspiring.

The positive reaction of other attendees to our projects was also a boost to continue our endeavour. During a networking event, we were excited to hear Professor Peter Head: “We are working to develop new tools that will help you implement your local solutions, so you can have the impact that you are envisioning”, to which we responded “Thank you! We’ll be happy to do so!”. With such momentum, how could we afford not to?


Lucía Urrieta

Lucía Urrieta