UNDP presents the 2009-2010 Mercosur Human Development Report

Dec 11, 2009

“Innovating for Inclusion: Youth and Human Development”: The younger generation’s capacity for action and change is critical for human development in Mercosur

Montevideo — More than 65 million youth (ages 15-29) live in the countries that make up Mercosur: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Despite the socioeconomic situation, they have projects, dreams and an enormous capacity to contribute to human development in their societies, as well as to be active agents for change. This is laid out in the 2009-2010 Mercosur Human Development Report, “Innovating for Inclusion: Youth and Human Development”.  The report, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was launched today in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The Report highlights that even though the educational level of the young population (ages 15-29) in these four countries is higher than what previous generations experienced, today youngsters face greater difficulties in the transition from school to the labour market. In Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, the population below the age of 30 represents almost 60 percent of the total unemployed; in Paraguay the number rises to 70 percent.

In addition, today the younger generation feels more insecure, also due to the increased exposure to violence. It is 30 times more likely that a young person becomes a victim of homicide in Latin America than in Europe.

The report views strengthening young people’s capacity to act within and transform the region as a critical element in human development, and it pushes for public policies that favour this type of participation. The report has been prepared with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation in Development (Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo, AECID), as part of the initiative titled “Broadening the Political Space for Human Development in Latin America and the Caribbean”. This initiative includes the publication of the Central American Human Development Report concerning Citizen’s Safety, and the Regional Human Development Report concerning the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality.

"The threat of exclusion, which is nearly implicit in the transition process to the labour market, has been expressed by the young generation as the most unbearable, especially when contrasted with the greater expectations of social mobility generated by inclusive education," said Rebecca Grynspan, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. "According to this Report, the gap between the expectation caused by the access to education and a vulnerable job placement is the core expression of the youth’s malaise."

"The challenges facing the youth in terms of human development are not mere obstacles to their own development," said Pablo Mandeville, UNDP Resident Representative in Uruguay. "They are real knots in the overall development path of the societies concerned."

In order for young people – in all their social and cultural diversity – to be a driving force in human development, their freedoms, abilities, and skills must be expanded in terms of the institutional, productive, distributed, and ecological facets of development. Women in Mercosur countries, therefore, will be the leading agents of action and change in the region.

"Young women have shown a greater ability of social involvement: on average, 7 out of 10 women have participated in at least one political or social action" said Fernando Calderon, director of the Mercosur Human Development Report. "The effects of motherhood on performance on the job market for young people should be neutralized with social protection policies. It is also crucial that such policies address the high vulnerability of single-parent households, especially those headed by women. "

The report highlights five reasons why youth are becoming strategic agents of human development within Mercosur:

  • First, due to their social heterogeneity and cultural diversity, young people are increasingly playing a leading role in innovation, knowledge and change in the world of technology and communication –  changes that now define public spaces, everyday social interactions and development.
  • Second, because under the terms of the new digital world order, users are also producers. Young people are “native-born citizens” of this techno-social environment. They use it to communicate with one another, to differentiate themselves from their peers and to organize as groups.
  • Third, a good part of today’s younger generation is raising new demands for recognition, equality and participation. They are thus inventing new cultural guidelines and ways of doing politics, no longer modelled on great epics or legendary deeds, but rather on specific, local actions geared toward concrete results.
  • Fourth, most young people are not looking to break off family ties, but rather are seeking to meld their parents’ experience with innovate ways of conceptualizing everyday life.
  • Fifth, young people recognize insecurity and violence as problems, but they do not turn away from using public spaces. They instead seek to create new strategies for collective safety.
Given all these reasons, there are elements of young people’s practices and subjectivities that allow them to come to the conclusion that they can become central actors in human development.

A combination of quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques were used in carrying out this research, undergirded by dialogue with youth organizations and leaders, journalists, experts and authorities in the countries of Mercosur.
Contact Information

To access the Report on Human Development and all press materials (provided in Spanish), visit: www.juventudydesarrollohumano.org

Jorge Surraco
Tel: 598-2-412-3356
Fax: 598-2-412-3360

María Ambrosoni
Tel: 54-11-4320-8742

Rocío Galeano
Tel: 595-21-661-980 Ext. 170
Fax: 595-21-611-981

Regional Centre in Panama:
Pablo Basz
Tel: +507 305-4864
Cell: + 507 6448-3004

New York:
Carolina Azevedo
Tel: +212-906-6127

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