International Youth Day
Young people are a driving force for peace and development. Their energy and creativity are key in building a better future, and they are often the first to come up with innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues.
Yet millions of young women and men are affected by conflict, violence and deprivation, and are unable to fulfil their potential. The world’s youth need safe spaces where they can participate, express their views and exercise their rights.
More than 130 young people, representatives of youth-led organizations and youth activists took part in the event. The Forum-Café drew attention to youth contributions to peace and development globally, and strengthened cooperation between youth and the representatives of the Government, educational institutions, civil society, and international organizations.
During the forum, the participants discussed the role of youth in promoting energy-efficient lifestyles, advocating for sustainable development and securing equal access to resources for peace and stability.
On 19 August 2017, national UN Volunteer Ahmed Osman, serving as Protection Assistant with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Sudan, led an interactive discussion with youth on the importance of volunteerism to achieve peace and contribute to development across all communities. Ahmed highlighted how “the SDGs cannot be achieved without people’s engagement at all stages.” He also underlined that volunteers can facilitate and support participatory approaches in planning, implementing and monitoring the SDGs.
The world’s youth population is at an all-time high, with 1.8 billion people aged 15 to 29. Most importantly, close to 87% of them live in developing countries, and 13% are unemployed. Both poverty and unemployment are well-known breeding grounds for conflict.
As you will be able to read in the stories below, volunteerism offers valuable opportunities for youth engagement, leadership and participation to contribute to the development of peaceful and inclusive societies.
In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) deployed 41 national and international UN Volunteers, 5 of them UN Youth Volunteers, to serve in environmental initiatives in Africa. Youth volunteers are the backbone of environmental action, raising awareness on climate change, responsible consumption and production, and preservation of land, forests and water resources.
Despite being one of the most vulnerable population groups in times of conflict, young people’s boundless energy can be channeled into meeting the demands posed by complex antagonisms and help their societies thrive and overcome the burdens of bloodshed and poverty. Advocating for global solidarity and multilateral cooperation, as well as promoting the creed that no one should be left behind, UNV and its extensive network of Online Volunteers actively engages young people in various development initiatives.
On International Youth Day, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme supported an event organized by all United Nations agencies in Brazil, along with the Brazilian Government, to celebrate the date and discuss the theme Black Youth and Peace. Through this event, the United Nations promotes a debate about the challenges faced by black young people in Brazil regarding violence, and access to more choices and opportunities.
Did you know that Albert Einstein was only 26 years old when he developed the Theory of Relativity? Or that Louis Braille was only 15 when he invented the Braille writing system for the visually impaired?
We know, from working with thousands of young volunteers over the course of our 40-year history, that young people are creative, passionate, and energetic.
Today, on International Youth Day 2014, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme joins the world in celebrating the role of young women and men as partners for positive change. Watch UNV's video to mark International Youth Day 2014 This year, Youth Day is addressing the issue of Youth and Mental Health with the slogan Mental Health Matters. Research shows that people who volunteer experience a sense of well-being which is an aspect of mental health.