Saturday, 24 February 2018

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UNRIC Library Backgrounder: Youth

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Selected Online Resources

Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
The work of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth is guided by the World Programme of Action for Youth which outlines four priority areas; Participation, Advocacy, Partnerships and Harmonisation. The Envoy on Youth advocates for addressing the development needs and rights of young people, as well as to bring the work of the United Nations with and for youth closer to them.
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International Youth Day - 12 August
On 17 December 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.

United Nations for Youth
The Focal Point on Youth, UN Programme on Youth, falls within the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). Within the United Nations system, the Focal Point on Youth aims to build an awareness of the global situation of young people, as well as promote their rights and aspirations. The Focal Point also works towards greater participation of young people in decision-making as a means of achieving peace and development.
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World Programme of Action for Youth
The United Nations youth agenda is guided by the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY). The WPAY, adopted by the General Assembly in 1995, provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people around the world. The WPAY covers fifteen youth priority areas and contains proposals for action in each of these areas.

UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development
The United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) is a network consisting of UN entities, represented primarily at the headquarters level, whose work is relevant to youth. The aim of the Network is to increase the effectiveness of UN work in youth development by strengthening collaboration and exchange among all relevant UN entities, while respecting and harnessing the benefits of their individual strengths and unique approaches and mandates.

United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP)
The main aim of the United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP), is to enhance the coherence and synergy of United Nations’ system-wide activities in key areas related to youth development. The Youth-SWAP builds on the specific mandates, expertise and capacities of individual United Nations entities, pooling the strengths of the whole United Nations system and promoting joint programmatic work. The Youth-SWAP website has been developed to ensure that progress related to the development and implementation of the Youth-SWAP is highlighted. Young people, UN entities, Member States and practitioners are encouraged to use the website as a tool to learn about the activities of the UN in youth development, as well as to help further their own work.

UN Youth Delegate Programme
Participation in decision-making is one of the key priority areas of the United Nations agenda on youth. One form of youth participation at the United Nations is through the inclusion of youth delegates in a country’s official delegation to the United Nations General Assembly and various functional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council.

United Nations - Resources for Students
Young people are the future of the world. Because the United Nations is working to make the world a better place now and in the future, it tries to help students understand its work and offers many resources to do this. On this page you can find direct links to Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Model UN, Voices of Youth, Focal Point on Youth, UNESCO Youth Forum.


Further Information

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) - Youth
Ensuring the involvement of young people in development processes is crucial for progress towards a more egalitarian society. The youth population currently numbers around 160 million in the region and will continue to represents a very substantial proportion of the population in some countries in the coming decades. The youth population needs a higher level of education, relevant training and better preparation for lifelong learning. In addition to persistent structural divides, ECLAC has noted inequalities in capacity-building and the sphere of work, which affect the young particularly and will need to be addressed if progress is to be made along the path of sustainability with equality.

Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) - “UN and SDGs: A Handbook for Youth”
This handbook explores SDGs and the 2030 Agenda from a youth perspective. In the first chapter, it introduces the concept of sustainable development and outlines its historical development through the transition from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to SDGs. The second chapter discusses how youth can be harnessed as a major agent of change in achieving sustainable development, focusing on several pertinent youth issues in Asia and the Pacific. The final chapter introduces the UN system and its regional arm, ESCAP, explaining their role in the successful implementation of SDGs.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – Decent Rural Employment - Youth employment
Almost 88 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion youth live in developing countries. Globally, young people account for approximately 24 percent of the working poor and this dynamic is particularly pronounced in Africa, where over 70 percent of youth subsist on US$2 per day or less. Although the world’s youth population is expected to grow, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for young women and men remain limited – particularly for those living in economically stagnant rural areas of developing countries.

International Fund for Agricultural Development - IFAD and young people
Young people living in rural areas have the potential, as the farmers and producers of tomorrow, to help feed the world's growing population. But young people are increasingly abandoning agriculture and rural areas in search of better livelihoods in cities or abroad. More than ever, there is a pressing need to create opportunities for young people to contribute to their communities and to earn a decent living in the agricultural and non-farm sectors. IFAD's programme of work reflects the needs and views of young rural people and aims to address the challenges that they face and create incentives to make rural life an attractive and viable livelihood option.

International Labour Organization (ILO) – Youth Employment
71 million unemployed youth worldwide and 156 million young workers living in poverty: youth employment remains a global challenge and a top policy concern. The ILO has had a long-standing commitment to promote decent work for youth. Supported by a unique tripartite structure that brings together the key players in the world of work, ILO’s activities on youth employment span over advocacy, knowledge development and dissemination, policy and technical advice and capacity building services. 

International Trade Centre (ITC) - Youth and Trade Programme
Young people are central to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both as beneficiaries and drivers. ITC’s Youth and Trade programme delivers specifically on Global Goal 4 (skills for entrepreneurship) and Global Goal 8 (decent work and inclusive growth).

International Telecommunications Union (ITU) – Youth and Children
Youth and children with access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) are coming of age as digital natives, the early adopters of ICTs and better positioned than their parents to harness the power of digital technologies in new and imaginative ways. Youth can only leverage the transformative power of ICTs when they have access to ICTs and are equipped with a range of digital skills. ICTs can enhance education, reduce youth unemployment and promote social and economic development. ITU's youth activities are focused on promoting school connectivity, digital literacy skills, and ICT-enabled employment opportunities for youth, including encouraging more young women and girls to prepare for and enter ICT careers.​​​​ ​ITU is also a member of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth​, supporting the digital skills and tech hubs thematic area.

Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) - Youth Empowerment
According to the United Nations statistics, there are 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 globally as of 2015, accounting for one out of every six people (17%) worldwide. This is predicted to increase to one out of every four people, which means there would be 1.3 billion youth by 2030. This global trend has particular pertinence to Africa, because Africa has the largest concentration of young people in the world. According to the United Nations, 226 million youth aged 15-24 lived in Africa in 2015 representing nearly 20% of Africa’s population, making up one fifth of the world’s youth population. If one includes all people aged below 35, this number increases to a staggering three quarters of Africa’s population. Moreover, the share of Africa’s youth in the world is forecasted to increase to 42% by 2030 and is expected to continue to grow throughout the remainder of the 21st century, more than doubling from current levels by 2055.

United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO)
Information available: Practice Note on Young People's Participation in Peacebuilding, Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security, Guiding Principles on Young People's Participation in Peacebuilding.

United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) - Youth
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ High Level-Group Report recognizes youth as “autonomous actors and partners” and affirms that “supporting their participation in decision making processes can benefit society as a whole”. Guided by the principle that youth are key actors to achieve peace, UNAOC develops programming to highlight and enhance young women and young men’s contribution to fostering mutual respect, understanding and long-term positive relationships between peoples of different cultures and religions.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development - UNCTAD Youth Network
Youth are the decision-makers of tomorrow and can play a powerful role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through the UNCTAD Youth Network, women and men between the ages of 18 and 30 can help to build the narrative about the future by sharing ideas and experiences, working with fellow youth in preparing inputs to UNCTAD meetings on trade and development-related issues, make their voice be heard in major youth events and more!

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - Youth Empowerment
In response to the worldwide phenomenon of young men and women calling for meaningful civic, economic, social and political participation, UNDP’s Youth Strategy 2014-2017 recognizes the involvement of young men and women in participatory decision-making and development processes as vital to achieving sustainable human development. Identifying development challenges and issues facing youth today, the strategy offers recommendations for strategic entry points and engagement of a broad range of partners in addressing youth empowerment.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - UNESCO Youth Programme
Young women and men have got the creativity, the potential and the capacity to make change happen – for themselves, for their societies, and for the rest of the world. UNESCO’s work with and for youth is committed to empowering young women and men and helping them to work together to drive social innovation and change, participate fully in the development of their societies, eradicate poverty and inequality, and foster a culture of peace. Youth are not just beneficiaries of this work – they are essential actors in finding solutions to the issues faced by young people in the world today. Their energy and leadership has been demonstrated across the world, and they must be fully engaged in social development themselves and supported in this work by their societies. As such, the UNESCO Youth Programme works to create an enabling environment in which this goal can be achieved, by bringing youth voices to the fore and encouraging young people to come together to take action.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - Youth Portal
The Portal offers a broad range of information on climate change initiatives, projects, campaigns, educational tools, websites and publications, produced by and for young people. Furthermore it highlights activities undertaken by members of the United Nations Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate Change and provides space for the UNFCCC observer constituency of youth organizations (YOUNGO) to showcase their work.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Youth participation & leadership
Today's generation of young people is absolutely massive: Some 1.8 billion people are between ages 10 and 24. Most of them live in developing countries, often comprising a huge proportion of the population. How well they navigate adolescence will determine not only the course of their own lives, but that of the world. Yet too many youth are unable to participate fully in society. Around 175 million young people in low-income countries cannot read a full sentence. Among those aged 15-24, some 500 million live on less than $2 a day, and over 73 million are unemployed. For girls, the barriers to participation are even higher. But when empowered and given the right opportunities, youth are effective drivers of change. UNFPA partners with young people, helping them participate in decisions affecting them, and strengthening their ability to advance human rights and development issues such as health, education and employment.
Adolescent pregnancy
Every day in developing countries, 20,000 girls under age 18 give birth. This amounts to 7.3 million births a year. And if all pregnancies are included, not just births, the number of adolescent pregnancies is much higher. When a girl becomes pregnant, her life can change radically. Her education may end and her job prospects diminish. She becomes more vulnerable to poverty and exclusion, and her health often suffers. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death among adolescent girls. Adolescent pregnancy is generally not the result of a deliberate choice – these girls often have little say over decisions affecting their lives. Rather, early pregnancy is a consequence of little or no access to school, information or health care. UNFPA works to address these issues by focusing on the protection and fulfilment of girls’ rights. This includes supporting comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health care to help girls avoid pregnancy. UNFPA also advocates supporting girls who become pregnant so they can return to school and reach their full potential.

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) – Youth
Globally, 85 per cent of the world’s young people live in developing countries, and an ever-increasing number of them are growing up in cities. It is estimated that by 2030, as many as 60% of all urban dwellers will be under the age of 18. All over the world, young people are finding it increasingly difficult to break into the labour market. Youth make up 25% of the global working age population, but account for 43.7% of the unemployed. This means that almost every other jobless person in the world is between the ages of 15 and 24. The exclusion from the economic, political, and social life of their countries breeds disillusionment, hopelessness, and upheaval. Research has found links between youth unemployment and social exclusion, and suggests that this may lead to political and social instability, and possibly to violence. Action is required to achieve economic prosperity for, and the inclusion of, the youth. Although evidence shows that governments and cities are making efforts to tackle youth poverty and their lack of engagement in governance, resources to undertake such interventions are very limited. UN-Habitat recognizes the potential of the youth as a major force for creating a better urban future.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – Youth
Growing up is tough, but imagine growing up a refugee. Having fled war or persecution, displaced youth aged 15-24 are often thrust into an uncertain world and may find themselves at increased risk of sexual and gender based violence, forced recruitment, exploitation and detention. They can also become targets of xenophobia, harassment and discrimination. As well as their homes, many refugee youth may also lose access to skills, confidence, social circles, aspirations and dreams. With your help, UNHCR works tirelessly to protect forcibly displaced youth from abuse and exploitation. We also aim to nurture their potential and support them as they restart their lives, providing skills development, education, psychosocial support, family reunification and recreational programmes. Together, by supporting the youth of today, we can build a better world for tomorrow.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) - Voices of Youth
Voices of Youth offers inspiring, original insight and opinion from across the globe – from young people, for young people.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) - Youth in productive activities
UNIDO works towards Inclusive Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) through the economic empowerment of the private sector, and of youth – both female and male. To tackle these issues and boost employment, entrepreneurship and inclusive and sustainable industrial development, UNIDO provides services that assist governments and support structures to serve young women and men. Services are geared to increase young people’s employability and provide them with the necessary tools to create and develop sustainable enterprises, and ultimately improve their livelihoods. 

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) - Youth Initiative
The Youth Initiative was created at the request of the Executive Director of UNODC by the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section (PTRS) to engage and empower young people to reflect on the effects of substance use in their schools and communities and to start taking action against it. The Initiative is connecting youth globally through social media to discuss, inspire, and learn from each other on the ways of promoting healthy lifestyles and start creating activities mobilizing their peers, families, schools, and communities.

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) - Information for Students
On this page is listed all information of relevance to students, including on the Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education, fellowships and internships within the Office.

United Nations Volunteers (UNV) - Become a UN Youth Volunteer
UN Youth Volunteers are between 18 and 29 years old, and work with UN agencies on the frontlines of political, developmental and humanitarian operations.

World Health Organization (WHO) - Adolescent health
Adolescents – young people between the ages of 10 and 19 years – are often thought of as a healthy group. Nevertheless, many adolescents do die prematurely due to accidents, suicide, violence, pregnancy related complications and other illnesses that are either preventable or treatable. Many more suffer chronic ill-health and disability. In addition, many serious diseases in adulthood have their roots in adolescence. For example, tobacco use, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, poor eating and exercise habits, lead to illness or premature death later in life.

Youth and the World Bank Group
What can you do to end poverty? The World Bank Group wants to empower young people and together contribute to its twin goals: ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity.


Past UN Events & Observances

International Year of Youth: August 2010 – August 2011
On 18 December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/64/134 proclaiming the year commencing on 12 August 2010 as the International Year of Youth (IYY): Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. The Year coincided with the 25th anniversary of the first International Youth Year in 1985 on the theme Participation, Development and Peace.

General Assembly High-level Meeting on Youth, 25-26 July 2011
The General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/65/267 decided that the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on Youth shall be held on 25 and 26 July 2011 in New York and that the overarching theme of the high-level meeting shall be “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”. The high-level meeting comprised two consecutive informal interactive roundtables on 25 July 2011 and two plenary meetings on 26 July 2011.


Additional Resources

Dag Hammarskjöld Library Research Guide - UN Information for Young People

ILO Library Research Guide – Youth Employment

UN Pulse - Dag Hammarskjöld Library - Youth, Security and Peace

UN Internship Programmes


March 2017
not an official document - for information only