By the year 2050, two thirds of the entire world’s population, about 6.5 billion people will be living in urban cities. If we don’t have the capability of maintaining a sustainable society today, taking into consideration that the population of urban cities is currently much smaller than it will be in the future, we need to start acting now for the future. Furthermore, the people who are able to really impact the future positively is the current youth and if we want a sustainable society for the youth of 2050 we need to do something about it.
In order to start this culture of sustainability we really have to change radically the way we manage and treat our cities. I live in one of the most urbanised cities in Latin America, São Paulo. The city also happens to be the biggest in Latin America and has 22% of its population living in extreme poverty, which means a big portion of it’s society had to succumb to subhuman living conditions.These conditions consist of a sort of slum situation that brazilians call “favelas”. About 2.162.368 people live in these conditions only on the metropolitan region of São Paulo and the city has about 1.538 favelas in total.
That being said, I think it is pretty clear how much my city, like many cities around the world, needs some serious investments in a more sustainable way of life. The government has tried implementing sustainable acts but these investments haven’t been made for the right purposes and in the right way, leading to no problems being solved until now.
However, there are initiatives that aim to improve the city’s current state. There is an organization called “Um TETO para meu país” which translates to “a roof for my country”. This initiative was created in 1997 by a group of ambitious and forward-thinking young people in Chile. The organization now works in about 20 countries and is pretty big in São Paulo due to the amount of people in poverty. The organization is entirely composed by volunteer youth. They work building houses in slums for people who don’t have one. The process starts with analysis of the areas and families who need this help the most, then they do fundraising events to raise money for the materials needed to build the houses. The final stage is recruiting people to spend one weekend in the favelas, in which they build the house from scratch and finish on Sunday night to go back home. I participated in the building stage twice. It was one of the most impacting experiences in my life, where I got to open my eyes to a reality that is very different to mine and was able to change it, even if in a small way.
It is positive initiatives such as this, led by youth, that help change our city’s reality, one step at a time. I really advise everyone reading this to take part in such activities. The youth of the future really thanks you for helping them have a sustainable society!