A Spotlight on Youth


In the lead-up to International Youth Day 2012, the UN will undertake a global online initiative, calling on young people around the world to commemorate the International Day by organizing events in partnership with civil society, Member States, the private sector, academia and philanthropists. During the second week of August, the UN will conduct an online campaign around six live Google+ Hangouts, covering the following topics: 1) employment; 2) entrepreneurship; 3) political inclusion; 4) citizenship and protection of rights; 5) education; and 6) education on sexual and reproductive health.

You can find more information at International Youth Day 2012.

Through these initiatives, the United Nations continues working to enhance partnerships both with and for youth to:

  • Create awareness (increase commitment and investment in youth)
  • Mobilize and engage (increase youth participation and partnerships)
  • Connect and build bridges (increase intercultural understanding among youth)

Supporting the Youth

At UNDP, the Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF) issued a call for proposals from Country Offices in 2011 in support of innovative and catalytic projects on youth empowerment and democratic governance. The proposals submitted confirm governance challenges that affect the youth; the size and potential of that vibrant segment of the population as well as the  indispensable role that politics and democratic governance can play in achieving sustainable human development.

In a number of countries, youth exclusion is strongly evident, often crossing with other forms of marginalization linked to gender, location, culture and/or community. This undercuts both development and social cohesion, yet it remains poorly recognized. Social norms continue to sideline youth in many places, treating political and economic participation as the prerogative of older people. While a few national policy frameworks have started to pay deliberate attention to youth concerns, much more can be done towards implementation. In all countries, youth need to be full participants in both shaping and implementing the choices that affect them.

37 DGTTF proposals were accepted from across the globe and across diverse national contexts including: 9 in Africa, 8 in the Arab States, 5 in Asia and the Pacific, 8 in Central and Eastern Europe/Commonwealth of Independent States, and 7 in Latin America.

Empowered Youth for Sustainable Human Development

In countries that have not yet begun to acknowledge and define the issues of youth, collecting evidence and conducting assessments are obvious first steps. Those further along face challenges of developing political and administrative capacities to effectively engage with and respond to young people. Across the projects, some common activities include strengthening youth advocacy groups, providing quality research to inform public policy-making, training youth as effective leaders, extending access to justice, and opening space for youth to interact with public authorities, bringing young people into public service delivery, and fostering the creation of national youth councils and plans. Measures to work with youth in several countries place an emphasis on social media and information technology. Innovative strategies range from social partnerships for service delivery to provincial youth parliaments to a digital game on youth and local governance.

What unites all these projects is the goal to find ways to counter a common notion that young people mainly pose problems that need to be controlled. The projects focus instead on solving the exclusion that is a root cause of trends such as youth violence and crime. They recognize that youth brought fully into the mainstream are tremendous agents for change. With the right opportunities to participate, politically and economically, young people become an asset critical to a future of peace and development.

You can find more information on youth-focused DGTTF-assisted projects in the Arab Region here.

We want to hear from YOU!
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The United Nations is developing a System-Wide Action Plan on Youth, and this is your chance to tell us what you think. Please take a moment to fill out the questionnaire, available in all UN six official languages:

Arabic | Chinese | English
French | Russian  | Spanish

Two Degrees of Separation Between Hope and Despair
A Young People's Summary of the United Nations Human Development Report 2007/2008

The young people of the world have produced a Youth Booklet that includes drawings, poems and human stories on climate change and development, entirely made by and for young people!

More Human Development Reports
Recent Publications
  • Youth 21: The Nairobi Declaration 2012 English
  • Youth 21: Building an Architecture for Youth Engagement in the UN System English
  • World Youth Report 2011: Youth Employment English
  • State of the Urban Youth 2010-2011: Levelling the Playing Field English
  • Youth Participation in Development: Summary Guidelines for Development Partners English
  • Growing Together: Youth and the Work of the United Nations English