The UN and young people

August 2010 - August 2011 was celebrated by the UN General Assembly as the International Year of Youth, drawing attention to the important role young people play in the world and, in particular, their potential contribution to realizing the goals of the United Nations Charter. In addition, Chapter 25 on Children and Youth in Sustainable Development of Agenda 21 also emphasizes that today's youth need to be involved in environment and development decision-making and in the implementation of programmes and activities.

The UN Programme on Youth (based in New York) coordinates the UN’s work on and with youth. It aims to promote young people’s rights and aspirations and build awareness about their situation globally. The Programme also works to increase opportunities for young people to participate in decision-making as a means of peace building and achieving development.

Since the adoption of the ‘One UN’ approach, agencies have been working closer together to coordinate efforts. YUNGA not only facilitates UN collaboration, it also engages civil society in the UN’s work and acts as a gateway to allow children and young people to learn about the UN system, participate in its activities – and make a difference.

© FAO.

Why are children and youth important?

Did you know the world is getting ‘younger’? In 2011, 43 percent of the world’s population were under the age of 25, according to the UN State of the World Population Report. Making up almost half of Earth’s seven billion people, children and young people have a important role to play in building a fairer, more sustainable future.

Children and young people are concerned, thoughtful citizens, capable of participating in and changing the society of which they are a part. They are dynamic, enthusiastic and imaginative, making them natural communicators and actors both in their own communities as well as in international arenas.

The United Nations recognizes the importance of involving youth in environmental, social and economic development issues. Investing in young people generates great benefits for local communities as well as national economies. Young people possess a unique perspective that is of great benefit to society.

Young people campaigning for intergenerational equity at COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland.