Today, the world is home to 1.8 billion young people, the largest generation of youth in history. They are more interconnected than ever before, and many are leading political, social, and economic change in their communities and societies. At the same time, young people face significant challenges and risks, disproportionately carried by girls and young women in many parts of the world. In many countries, youth exclusion is strongly evident, often crossing with other forms of marginalization linked to gender, location, culture and/or community, undermining development and social cohesion. In many cases, social norms continue to sideline youth, 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. In all countries, youth need to be full participants in shaping and implementing the choices that affect them.
UNDP recognizes that young people can be positive agents of change and represent an immense and valuable potential that governments and institutions should nurture and invest in. UNDP seeks to enhance those aspects required for vibrant democratic governance, including by advancing initiatives focused on youth empowerment and engagement in peace and development processes.
Because youth are a significant force for sustainable development and key agents for social change, economic growth, and technological innovation, UNDP promotes and supports their empowerment. This is done by promoting fully inclusive governance, increasing youth participation in decision-making, ramping up youth employment, engaging youth in peacebuilding and gender equality programmes, and ensuring youth are a part of SDG integration, implementation, and monitoring.
UNDP also supports the capacity development of young people and youth-led organizations and the development of youth caucuses in government, parliament, and other bodies to be able to engage in dialogue and influence public decision-making processes. We engage with relevant stakeholders through outreach, advocacy, thought leadership, global networks, and policy debates, particularly in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.