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Learn about healthy cities

Explore this page to learn about the cities we live in

Test your knowledge

Our Future Cities quiz will test your knowledge about what makes healthy cities

Get creative and imagine your future city

Take part in our challenge and bring out your most creative ideas

Share your contribution with us and on social media

Use the #FutureCitiesChallenge hashtag AND submit your creative piece to us to have the chance to win credits to take an online course!


COVID-19 has brought to light some of the challenges our rapidly growing cities face as urban areas have suffered most as a result of the pandemic. It’s caused a huge rush to re-think how our cities are created and a big part of that means involving citizen voices, including those of young people (10-24 years old). That’s why the #FutureCitiesChallenge is challenging YOU to imagine YOUR future city based on what
YOU think is important.

Let’s have a look at how cities turn into the communities we live in, so you can use this knowledge to imagine your own future city.

Learn about cities…


We want YOU to share what you want your future city to look like. Then, we want YOU to take part in shaping it into exactly that. Join the #FutureCitiesChallenge and use your creativity to express your idea by 23 October 2020, with the chance to WIN USD 1,000 in credits to take an online course.

We’re excited to receive submissions from individuals between 10-24 years old, as well as groups in the same age bracket.

We have seen interest from those over 24 to join the #FutureCitiesChallenge and to reward your efforts we are announcing an additional ‘Youth Allyship Award’ for those 24-30! Same guidelines, same deadline: 23 October.

How Do I Enter the Competition?

It’s really simple!

  • Read everything on and take the Future Cities Challenge Quiz to test your knowledge!
  • Create your creative contribution and link it to one of the thematic areas: Public Spaces, Transport, Environment, Technology, or Education.
  • Optional but recommended to share your contribution on social media under the hashtag #FutureCitiesChallenge!

After the deadline, a diverse group of talented and experienced judges from all over the world will evaluate the contributions and decide on up to 5 winners. We will announce the winners on World Cities Day, 31 October.

But first! Ready to learn more about cities? Let’s go…
Click on the graphics below to learn more about what cities have to offer.

Public Spaces

Public spaces are areas open to everyone, no matter who you are. Public spaces can be roads, parks, playgrounds, sports fields, and beaches. They are places to meet people and can help prevent crime; importantly they are places to have your opinion heard and stimulate actions. Public spaces should be designed to truly meet the needs of all people – including you and other young people. Unfortunately, urban planning does not often include young people in design and processes that matter to them. As a result, our cities cannot be fully socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. 

There are lots of amazing initiatives from across the world, and the United Nations New Urban Agenda is a fantastic example of 167 countries working together for sustainable, happy cities in both high-income countries and low and middle-income countries. That is true collaboration!


Did you know that 1.35 million people die as a result of road crashes every year, and 50 million are seriously injured? These are heartbreaking numbers, which CAN be prevented! Many growing cities are struggling to provide services to residents as they deal with overburdened roads, not to mention the threat of climate change and rising road traffic injuries. Think of the last time you travelled across your city to meet a friend, go to school or work, or get food. How did you travel, and how could this journey be improved to meet your and other young people’s needs? How we move – and can move – in cities is so important. It has to be environmentally friendly, meet your needs, and be affordable and safe.

Learn more about how transport can better fit the needs of children and young people, and check out this initiative by Fondation Botnar and the Global Road Safety Partnership.


No matter where you live, you deserve to breathe fresh air and have access to clean drinking water. Period. Unfortunately, this is not a reality for everyone. The environment is a complex issue and includes everything from waste management and sustainable transport to climate change strategies. In 2025, we expect the world’s cities to generate 2.2 billion tons of solid waste – this needs to be dealt with responsibly because otherwise, our water and soil will be contaminated. Climate change is also a critical issue that we are facing – the planet and its cities are heating up—and fast. It is projected that cities in the Northern Hemisphere will have the climate of cities over 600 miles (800 km) to the south – it would be like moving Paris to Madrid, or Washington DC to Jacksonville, Florida or Nairobi to Dar es Salaam. 

The Mathare Environmental One Stop Youth Centre is a UN-Habitat supported youth-led group working in Mathare, Kenya,  to improve the public spaces in the community but also to mobilise community participation to remove solid waste. Watch this awesome video about the group here.


No child or young person should be denied their right to education. It is a basic human right and is extremely important so that people can make the most out of their lives. Schools in cities are serving significantly more students than those in rural areas, which can negatively affect vulnerable young people and children with special needs. As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the globe, many countries have temporarily closed schools which have impacted 91% of students worldwide. UNICEF estimates that at least a 1/3 or over 450 million of the world’s schoolchildren will be unable to access remote learning when schools are closed. Never before have so many children been out of school at the same time.

Find out how UNICEF is supporting children around the world during COVID19 here.


If you are on this page, you probably have some access to technology and the internet. It is not a given for everyone, and the potential that technology offers cities is huge! It has the power to transform cities into places where ALL voices are heard, as well as to improve access to essential services such as healthcare, transport, and education. Applications, for example, can play an important role to reduce fatalities caused by homicide, road traffic, and fires. If they are used to their maximum effect, it could reduce these fatalities by up to 10 %. Games such as Minecraft, what people call “virtual lego” can allow young people to have a say in how their cities are built and for who. In a high-crime city with five million people, this could save 300 lives every year! 

An inspiring example of how technology is being used to create safer cities is Safetipin, a tool that helps cities become safer through the collection of data.

Young City Champions

Meet the Young City champions, working and advocating for healthier and happier cities!

Fondation Botnar is a Swiss-based foundation that champions the use of AI and digital technology to improve the health and wellbeing of young people in growing urban environments. To achieve this, the foundation supports research, catalyses diverse partners, and invests in scalable solutions around the world.

UN-Habitat is the United Nations agency mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities.

The Future Cities Challenge is a joint UN-Habitat and Fondation Botnar campaign which is all about children and young people in cities. We invite young people and children to have conversations about their future cities and encourage them to be creative to express their wants and needs in cities.

The Future Now.
For Young People

Fondation Botnar
St. Alban-Vorstadt 56
4052 Basel
+41 61 201 04 74