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3rd Urban Social Forum Highlights Success and Contributions of Young Leaders

Tomorrow’s Leaders, Today

On the 19th December 2015 Kota Kita and partner organizations hosted the 3rd Urban Social Forum in Surabaya. The event was attended by record numbers of participants, over 1,000, representing organizations, universities and communities from throughout Indonesia. We welcomed participants and panelists from over 20 different cities, mostly in Java, but also from the cities of Medan, Padang, Kupang, Denpasar, Palu, and Makassar who came to meet and learn from nearly 100 panelists spread out across 20 different panels. The day was an amazing opportunity to exchange experiences, learn from others and network for a better urban future.

This year there was a very large and prominent presence of young activists, students and youth groups; this helped make the Urban Social Forum a really vibrant occasion. Youth represent an important source of ideas and dynamic energy; they are not only concerned with urban issues, they are also creating and implementing solutions for our cities. Some youth groups participated as panelists, sharing their achievements and successes, and inspiring others to action. Impressive groups who shared their knowledge during the panel sessions include: Kampung Halaman Yogyakarta , c2o Library and Collabtive , Bike2Work , Greeneration Foundation , Kampung Sinaoe Sidoarjo , and the Surabaya Youth Forum .

Youth groups are showing everyone how they can develop practical solutions for some of our biggest urban problems. One example is trash, a priority concern for many urban residents and a widespread problem we see in our neighborhoods, rivers, parks and streets. Greeneration  has launched a campaign called Diet Kantong Plastik!  and #Waste4Change , in collaboration with Yayasan Pengembangan Biosains dan Teknologi , and Institut Teknologi Bandung Alumni , on an initiative called Bebassampah.id . They are working hard to raise awareness about the need to reduce trash, improve management, and offer scalable and sustainable ways to recycle trash. These initiatives are already generating impacts in cities across Indonesia and were a very inspiring moment during the Forum.

Youth are also very savvy and sophisticated in the way they use and can develop technology to serve their goals, and this is having a major impact on the way we can create, and deploy, solutions to fix our cities. Some examples of youth groups that have been effectively using technology to create innovations are:

  • Trafizap , an app that helps users manage traffic congestion in Surabaya. This was developed at the Gedung Creative Hub (GERDHU) a Surabaya-based co-working space/start-up space. 
  • Lifepatch , from Yogyakarta, have been collaborating with Paguyuban Warga Strenkali Surabaya (the Surabaya Riverbank Community Association), and Rizka Putri Novitasari and Lailatus Sa’diyah to improve water quality for riverbank communities.
  • Riset Indie , based in Bandung, have been using GIS and mapping tools to document informal systems in West Bandung, such as patterns of informal transportation and food vendors.
  • Peta Jakarta , based in Jakarta, are another widely recognized group having a visible impact on their city. They use Twitter to help monitor and report the severity of flooding in Jakarta, which supports better response and emergency assistance to urban poor communities. All of these groups are at working at the very cutting edge of their field and showing the rest of Indonesia how much change youth groups can bring about.

Kota Kita was also able to show how we are supporting youth initiatives, especially through out capacity building and mentorship program the Urban Citizenship Academy (UCA). For the Urban Social Forum we invited 8 different UCA youth groups, 23 youth activists in total, to present their initiatives. The booth was one of the more popular ones, attracting attention from other young people, students and social activists impressed by their vision, analysis of issues, and strategic approach to creating change in their communities. The Urban Citizenship Academy will be growing this year and spreading to other cities, so this event served to show so many others what young, committed people can do to improve their cities.

As Indonesia is rapidly urbanizing and populations are growing, cities are also getting younger and younger. A greater and greater proportion of the population is made of young people – they represent not only the potential of our cities tomorrow, but they are the hope and promise today. We think that the Urban Social Forum was a fantastic opportunity to show the world what they are doing, how much change and impact they are making, and allow them to network, learn from one another, and inspire each other to build a new and better city. Like the Urban Social Forum’s slogan ‘Another City is Possible!’ they are showing us how this optimistic vision can become a reality.

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