Our world has 1.8 billion young people. One third of them live in countries that have suffered a violent conflict, and 75 million are unemployed.
It is not time for business as usual, and as UNDP is launching its first global Youth Strategy, “Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future," in Tunis, working with young people, particularly those who are in need, is indispensable if we are to achieve sustainable human development.
In the Post-2015 Consultations, youth are demanding education, jobs, honest and responsive governments, and participation in decision-making; they have innovative ideas and are willing to engage, even to take risks for the causes they believe in. Young voices not only deserve to be heard — young people need to be listened to and their views must count. Doors need to open up.
UNDP is determined to play its part by strengthening its cooperation with young women and men themselves, their own organisations, other partners in the UN system, governments, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector. In a recent study, we showed how the political representation is systematically much older, in all regions of the world, than the society it represents and rules. The age gap needs to be reduced by rejuvenating politics, balancing the weight of experience with the energy of youth.
UNDP has been providing support to design public policies targeted at youth, including in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kosovo*. In Mauritius young people are essential participants in projects funded through the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme implemented by UNDP. In Darfur, UNDP in collaboration with the World Food Programme implemented the Youth Volunteers Rebuilding Darfur project in partnership with the Universities of El Fasher, Nyala and Zalingei.
We will do more to empower young women and men, promoting their entry into labor markets with the decent jobs agenda, strengthening their participation in public institutions and politics, and supporting their role as agents of change in development processes, in their societies and communities. We believe that gender equality starts with boys and girls, and needs to be consolidated between young women and young men.
If you are young, how can we best invite you to work with us on our Youth Strategy? Talk to us!
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.