Today, over 55 per cent of the world's population lives in urban areas; by 2050, this is set to increase to more than two-thirds. While urbanization brings with it economic growth and prosperity, it also presents a range of negative social issues, with cities often home to high levels of income inequality, gangs, and organized criminal groups.
Looking to help counter this, UNODC works with countries to reduce urban crime and violence at regional, national and local levels. One of those with whom UNODC has been partnering closely to achieve this is Colombia, through mechanisms such as strengthening local data collection and crime analysis, and, most recently, introducing the sports-based, youth crime prevention initiative Line Up, Live Up.
In the latest edition of the magazine 'Justice Trends', UNODC's Dimitri Vlassis - Chief of the organization's Corruption and Economic Crime Branch - provides his insights into the workings of the 13th UN Crime Congress held in Qatar in 2015, and the resultant Doha Declaration which emerged from this important gathering.
In this wide-ranging interview, Mr. Vlassis discusses UNODC's Global Programme - the first time that such an implementation initiative has emerged from a Crime Congress to provide support to countries to put into practice the Doha Declaration's commitments.
As more and more countries recognize the essential role of sport in promoting sustainable development, UNODC is working across the globe to promote life skills training programmes that can be implemented in sport settings to strengthen youth resilience and help them to stay away from crime, violence, and drug-use.
Most recently, UNODC has been working with the Central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, offering a practical tool for these Governments to complement national youth policies and strengthen their crime prevention efforts through social development.
Two years after it was launched and half-way into its projected life span, the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration has already scored successes in several fields of activity and benefited people in numerous countries around the world. With far-reaching initiatives having already been launched to great acclaim, the Global Programme has covered a variety of disciplines and established thematic components falling under UNODC's mandate.
Today, over 14,000 stakeholders in more than 180 countries have been directly reached by the Global Programme. 23 countries have received direct, targeted technical assistance and over 5,400 stakeholders from 167 countries have been assisted in capacity building.
As part of its global efforts to promote sports in preventing youth crime, UNODC offers support, through grants, to local initiatives undertaken by select non-governmental organizations. One of these was recently launched in Rio de Janeiro's neighbourhood of Cidade de Deus , where gang violence has been a major problem leading young people into crime, violence and drug use. Instituto Companheiros das Américas (ICA), a Brazilian NGO, is rolling out a programme that connects sports to employability and entrepreneurial skills training for at-risk youth. The initiative aims to equip young people with the skills necessary to enter the labour market, or to re-enter the formal education system, thus strengthening their resilience to crime and violence while simultaneously supporting the community as a whole.