Empowering Youth

Empowering Youth in Asia and the Pacific

Today, the world is home to 1.8 billion young people, the largest generation of youth in history. Over half of them live in the Asia-Pacific region. Young people are more interconnected than ever before, and many are leading political, social and economic change in their communities and societies around the world. The 2018 UN Youth Strategy recognizes that young people are positive agents of change, and that they represent an immense and valuable potential that governments and institutions should nurture and invest in. At the same time, it recognizes that young people are facing great challenges and risks, disproportionately carried by girls and young women in many parts of the world.  

UNDP has been providing extensive support to national policy development and implementation in the five regions, through the provision of evidence-based policy guidance and programmatic support and by promoting active participation of youth, including the most marginalized and vulnerable in all spheres of society.  

UNDP supports the capacity development of young people and youth-led organizations, and the development of youth caucuses in government, parliament and other bodies. We engage with relevant stakeholders through outreach, advocacy, thought leadership, global networks, and policy debates, particularly in the context of the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. We also support the mainstreaming of youth issues in development planning and inter-ministerial and inter-sectorial coordination. 

Young people in Asia and the Pacific

According to the Regional Human Development Report published in 2016, more than half of the world’s young people live in Asia and the Pacific.  It is a region facing up to the challenges of extreme poverty and climate change but brimming with economic dynamism and a youthful workforce. What’s more, nearly a billion people in Asia are below the age of 15, particularly in South Asia and Southeast Asia. This means that by 2050, it is projected that the region will have more work­ing-age people, and fewer older and younger dependents than at any point in its history. This ‘youth bulge’ offers the region a unique opportunity to lift millions more out of poverty and ultimately close the gap with the developed world.

While the region has witnessed enormous progress in recent years, studies show that youth continue to face challenges, from the inequitable provisions of services and employment opportunities, to social and political exclusion, and persistent gaps in gender equality. Many countries are now confronting complex and interconnected challenges, such as the aging process, growing youth populations, poor labour markets, climate change and rapid rates of urbanization, all of which are placing enormous pressure on the next generation.

In response, governments and international organisations, private sector and civil society organisations are increasingly introducing initiatives that harness the transformative energy of youth through social entrepreneurship and innovation.

UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, prioritizing youth participation in the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the Sustainable Development Goals, is approaching these challenges through three core areas: (i) enhanced economic empowerment; (ii) enhanced civic engagement and political participation; and (iii) strengthened engagement in disaster preparedness, crisis response, and resilience building in crisis/conflict context. 

Programmes and Initiatives