Commonwealth Youth for Sustainable Urbanisation

60% of the population of the Commonwealth is young people under the age of 30. Well managed human settlements are key drivers of climate change solutions, economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and sources of employment underpinned by the activities of young people, who largely still lack a seat at the decision-making table. 

The creation of this network is in response to the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth, launched in 2021 by the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Initiative (a multidisciplinary partnership group of Commonwealth partners comprising the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Planners and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum) which acknowledges the importance of youth in sustainable urbanisation. The network builds on the Youth Manifesto for Sustainable Urbanism launched at CHOGM 2018, London. A unique aspect of this network, reflecting the Call to Action, is recognising the need to foster interdisciplinarity between youth interested, or beginning their careers, in sectors related to the built environment, such as the technical professions, local government and academia. The Network was officially launched at CHOGM 2022 in Rwanda at which Heads of Government adopted a Declaration to prioritise a greater focus on sustainable urbanisation and 2023 was declared Year of the Youth! For more details on the launch, see our CHOGM 2022 page. The CYSU Theory of Change can be found here.

Eligibility to Register

  • Are you interested in urbanisation?
  • Are you a young professional ? A university researcher, architect, land surveyor, urban planner, engineer, local government technical professional?
  • Are you a young city leader in local government ?
  • Are you a high school, college or university student?
  • Are you age 15-35 years old?

If the answer is yes to any of those questions, you are eligible…click HERE to register!


To coincide with Youth Day at COP27, CYSU launched their Theory of Change! It has been collaboratively created by the Steering Committee over several months. Click here to view.

LOGO COMPETITION: We have a winner for the CYSU logo competition! Congratulations to Daniel Emmanuel a young designer from Nigeria! We loved the concept & look forward to working with you on final amendments before adoption. Thank you to everyone who entered!

WORKING GROUPS & COORDINATOR: Thank you to everyone who submitted expressions of interest in getting more closely involved with the work of CYSU, participating in one of our working groups or applying for our new Coordinator position. We have closed submissions on both of those and will announce updates in the coming weeks. Again, thank you for your interest and support!

CYSU Purpose

Empower Commonwealth Youth to support, contribute to, and advocate for sustainable urbanisation in the Commonwealth and to look at ways in which cities and human settlements can better reflect the needs of youth.


  • Provide an opportunity for young people from across different disciplines/constituencies relating to sustainable urbanisation to come together for networking, education, knowledge sharing and to exchange ideas, tools and learnings. 
  • Build the capacity of youth, to advocate for sustainable urbanisation, shape the future of, and re-design their environment 
  • Communicate the importance of youth-friendly and youth-aware sustainable urbanisation
  • Proactively collaborate with relevant stakeholders to implement innovative solutions
  • Integrate a youth voice into Commonwealth policy and programmes and advocate for strengthened youth leadership and integration into decision making to support sustainable urbanisation

Meet the CYSU Steering Committee

Mandisa Mthimkhulu, Eswatini, Commonwealth Local Government Forum
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Mandisa is an HR Practitioner at the Municipal Council of Mbabane, Eswatini. She holds a degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Johannesburg and currently pursuing her honors in Industrial Psychology with the University of South Africa. Her introduction to the group came through her involvement in the project implemented by CLGF and Gender Links for young women in local government with counterparts in senior managerial positions in local government. She is interested in exploring ways to attract and retain youth in decision making positions in local government.

Constantinos Vassiliades, Cyprus, Association of Commonwealth Universities
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Dr. Constantinos Vassiliades is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture, Land and Environmental Sciences, Neapolis University of Pafos. He is a Research Associate of the University of Cyprus and the Cyprus University of Technology, a Visiting Researcher at the Department of Industrial Engineering of the University of Naples “Federico II” and a Visiting Lecturer at the Division of Architecture and Water of Luleå University of Technology (LTU), as well as a partner at “Vassiliades Architects”. Constantinos deals extensively with the sustainability, technology, and energy efficiency of buildings on the architectural side, both professionally and within his research. He participated in relevant research projects, where he made publications, participated in conferences, taught in training schools in Barcelona and Warsaw, and he is selected as one of the 26 Rising Researchers of the ACU British Council Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort.

Olafiyin Taiwo, United Kingdom, Commonwealth Association of Planners
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Olafiyin Taiwo is a chartered Town Planner dedicated to shaping better places and delivering high-quality outcomes through multidisciplinary working, multi-sectoral collaborations, and partnerships. She has extensive experience leading development programmes across public & private sectors and civil society. Olafiyin leads the Commonwealth Association of Planners Young Planners Network as the Convener. She is the Co-chair for the UN-Habitat Planners for Climate Action (Education and Capacity Building) and a member of the RTPI General Assembly and International Committee. Olafiyin is committed to improving the quality of life and experiences of local communities in urban areas. She is the co-founder of Life brooks International, a charity dedicated to bringing hope and transforming the lives of children and young people in urban communities. 

Fouda Martin, Cameroon, Architect
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Martin is an accredited architect at the National Order of Cameroon Architects and the Senior Managing Director of the architectural firm Art and Design Studio in Douala. He holds a Master Degree in Architecture from the Institute of Fine Art of Cameroon Foumban, and another Master Degree in Urban and Rural Sociology from the University of Douala, Cameroon. He is also a PhD candidate in Urban and Rural Sociology at the University of Douala. A Youth Leader passionate about bringing out the best from youth to contribute positively in making the world a better place, Martin is the Chairperson and co-founder of PEARLS AFRIKA à Youth-led organization that gathers more than 100 professionals of the built environment, and he is also the initiator of this Network.

Simeon Shtebunaev, United Kingdom, Commonwealth Association of Architects
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Simeon Shtebunaev is an interdisciplinary doctoral researcher and lecturer at Birmingham City University, researching how young people engage in the planning of future ‘smart’ cities. He has published works and actively worked promoting the role of teenagers in envisioning future cities. Simeon served as a trustee of the RIBA (2016-2019) and as a Vice-President for Students and Associates, co-founding the RIBA Future Architects initiative. Simeon was selected as the RIBAJ Rising Star 2021 and RTPI West Midlands Young Planner of the Year 2021. Simeon co-wrote the Youth Manifesto for Sustainable Urbanism at CHOGM 2018 in London. Currently, Simeon is an Associate of the youth organisation Beatfreeks, part of the Birmingham Civic Society Planning Committee and the West Midlands Combined Authority Cultural Leadership Board. 

Christopher Chukwunta, Canada, Commonwealth Engineers Council
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Chris is the Vice President of the International Renewable Energy Systems Inc. He holds a master’s degree in systems engineering from Imperial College London and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Chris is a United Nations Affiliated Technical Reviewer, a member of the Commonwealth Engineers Council Board and a national delegate at the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) Young Engineers and Future Leaders, and a member of the WFEO Climate Action Working Group. Chris works with youths and young professionals through the Imperial College Alumni mentorship programme, University of Alberta Career Exploratory Interviews and UN Youth Development programmes

Will Steel, UK, Commonwealth Association of Planners
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Will is a Chartered Town Planner of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). He is Co-Chair for International Co-operation for the CAP Young Planners Steering Group (CAP YP), and last year delivered a series of events which led to CAP YP being involved at the UN Innovate4Cities Conference.  Will is a member of the Regional Management Board for RTPI Yorkshire, and was awarded Young Planner of the Year for Yorkshire in 2019. In his professional role Will is a Senior Planning Consultant for Atkins in the UK, and is working on a pivotal railway project for the North of England.  

Michelle Meaclem, NZ, Commonwealth Engineers Council
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Michelle is a Civil Engineer at Tonkin and Taylor based in Wellington, New Zealand with experience across climate change risk, three waters infrastructure advisory and planning, and water infrastructure design. She graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) from the University of Canterbury and received the Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia to undertake a university exchange at the University of Hong Kong. Michelle is the Engineering New Zealand Young Engineers Wellington Committee Treasurer, a member of the Asia New Zealand Foundation Leadership Network, and in the World Federation of Engineering Organisations’ Young Engineers Working Group on Climate Action and COP26/27.

Allan Pollard Jr, Belize, Commonwealth Local Government Forum
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Allan Pollard Jr. is serving his second term as an elected Councillor of the Belize City Council. At twenty- seven years old, he is one of the youngest elected officials in the Country and is currently presiding as Deputy Mayor; holding one of the largest portfolios of Infrastructure, Urban Development & Labor Relations. Deputy Pollard also serves as a member of the board of directors for Belize Water Services Ltd. and the National Sports Council. He is an alumnus of St. John’s College and is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from John Carroll University. Allan is driven and passionate about transforming his municipality into a smart & resilient city through infrastructure development and sustainable urbanization. His focus remains on youth participation in governance and youth development through various community-based initiatives.

Pulkit Kanotra, USA, Commonwealth Engineers Council
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Pulkit Kanotra is a licensed Professional Civil Engineer based out of New York City, NY. Pulkit received his Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and has since worked in water resource management and airport design. Currently Pulkit is a Senior Civil Engineer at Parsons Corporation working on airport equipment design and implementation. Pulkit has volunteer experience with Engineers Without Borders and is also a member for the WFEO Youth for Climate Action Working Group. Pulkit is a young engineer driven to leave behind the world in a better place for future generations.

Malith Senevirathne, Sri Lanka, Commonwealth Association of Planners
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Malith is a young urban planner specialising in urban designing, infrastructure planning, and planning technology in Sri Lanka. He is currently based in the UK pursuing his PhD studies on transport planning for disaster resilience and early warning. He is attached to the Global Disaster Resilience Centre at the University of Huddersfield, working on climate resilience and disaster risk management projects. Back in Sri Lanka, he has led the Young Planners Forum (YPF) of the Institute of Town Planners Sri Lanka (ITPSL) and carried out ample activities for the betterment of the young planning community. Currently, he is working closely with YPF/ITPSL and represents Sri Lanka in the Good City Foundation (GCF, Future City Summit FCS). He is also a co-chair of the research committee of the Commonwealth Association of Planners, Young Planners Network (CAP-YPN) contributing to the career development of youth in commonwealth countries.

Brenda Nyawara, Kenya, Commonwealth Association of Architects
LinkedIn Profile URL:
Brenda Nyawara is a licensed architect and urban enthusiast based in Nairobi, Kenya, practicing under Arcscene Architects. She has 5 years of experience in architectural design and project management in a fast-paced design studio. She studied architecture at the University of Nairobi Kenya and graduated with an honors degree in 2017. As a Masters student at the University of Nairobi at the Department of Architecture, she is currently carrying out research in sustainable urban planning and design needed for safe, livable and breathable cities. Her aim is to bridge the gap between the wealth of research in sustainable design and policy-making in Kenya, having been recently appointed to the Urban Planning Technical Committee for Nairobi, the Capital City. Apart from private practice, she holds volunteer positons at the Architectural Association of Kenya as the Vice Chair of the Architects Chapter, at Women in Real Estate Society as Vice President of the Board and as a Council Member of the East Africa Institute of Architects

The network is further supported by:

Eileen Goh, Singapore, Commonwealth Secretariat
LinkedIn Profile URL:

Janine Xavier-Cross, Trinidad & Tobago, Commonwealth Local Government Forum
LinkedIn Profile URL:

Alice Preston-Jones, UK, The Prince’s Foundation
LinkedIn Profile URL:

Former Steering Committee Members

We acknowledge our Former Steering Committee Members whose involvement and contribution was pivotal in the early stages of the CYSU initiative. Whilst they are no longer able to be involved in the same way, the continuation of this Network is thanks in no small part to their dedication and commitment.

George Mwanza, Zambia, Commonwealth Local Government Forum
LinkedIn Profile URL:
George is Mayor of Chipata City, Zambia, youth activist, patriot, young leader and entrepreneur. He realised a long-term ambition in September 2021, when he was elected, and sworn in to serve as Mayor of Chipata City, Zambia. At the age of 27, Mwanza became the youngest mayor to head a city council in Zambia and said: “I ran for mayor to be the voice that has been missing to make decisions for the youth. If you are not a politician, your voice is limited”

Dr Sakkeri Ramya, India, Commonwealth Association of Planners
Dr. Sakkeri Ramya is an Assistant Professor from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. She pursued Master’s degree in City Planning (MCP) from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Kharagpur and has been awarded Ph.D. from IIT – Roorkee. She has extensively worked on the Climate Change and Glacier melt modelling for Sustainable Development of the Himalayan Region. She has wide professional work experience in various capacities in the field of planning with renowned organizations such as GIZ, SPAV, CRDC, and SPACES. Dr. Sakkeri Ramya has expertise in spatial analytics, quantitative and qualitative research, and decision-making models with area of interests such as Urban Dynamics, City Planning, Climate Change and Sustainable Development. 

Amelia Neoh, Malaysia, Commonwealth Association of Planners
LinkedIn Profile URL:
TPr. Amelia Neoh is a chartered Town Planner and Associate at Green Acres Studio Sdn. Bhd., a multi-disciplinary firm based in Penang, Malaysia. She leverages on 13 years of working experiences in urban development practices across the public and private sector. She holds an MSc. (Merit) in Urban Development Planning from University College London (UCL) and is an alumnus of Commonwealth Shared Masters Scholarship Award. She is Deputy Chairman (Private Sector) of Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) Youth Wing and committee member of the Commonwealth Scholar Alumni Association (Malaysian Chapter).  She is also founder of Jane’s Walk George Town, joining Jane’s Walk movement worldwide renown for community – based approaches to city building. Amelia envisions to rethink and reimagine the role of young planning practitioners, across the Commonwealth.

Register your interest

Register your interest in this short online form here

Further information

To find out more email

Twitter: @CYSU_

LinkedIn: Commonwealth Youth for Sustainable Urbanisation (CYSU)

Facebook: @Commonwealth Youth for Sustainable Urbanisation – CYSU

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