Young people take action for global change

The UN has been engaging with young people to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges since 1999. Yet 2020 might be the year their contribution is needed most, as the world is reeling from the disruption caused by COVID-19. Under the banner “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, this year’s International Youth Day will celebrate the positive action young people offer.

In 1999, the UN General Assembly decided that 12 August shall be celebrated every year as International Youth Day. Since then, this day has engaged hundreds of thousands of young people in addressing some of our world’s most pressing problems.

“Engaging youth globally is essential for the well-being of the entire world. We need your insights and partnership as we work for a better future for all,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres when addressing youth representatives at the ECOSOC Youth Forum last year. His message holds true today.

Youth engagement for global action

As the United Nations turns 75, and only 10 years remain to make the 2030 Agenda a reality for all, trust in public institutions is eroding. Meanwhile, young people remain underrepresented in institutional political processes with a third of countries not allowing persons under 25 to run for parliament. Further enabling the engagement of youth in political mechanisms can increase the effectiveness and sustainability of policies and can also contribute to the restoration of mutual trust.

Therefore, meaningfully engaging young people in their diversity will be a necessity to effectively address our current and future global challenges, such as COVID-19 and the climate crisis.

The aim of this year’s theme is to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people is enriching institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in politics can be enhanced.

How to celebrate International Youth Day

The official commemoration of International Youth Day is hosted by UN DESA’s Division for Inclusive Social Development. The commemoration will take the form of a podcast, hosted by youth and for youth. The podcast will showcase how young people can enrich politics and enact change at all levels. This year’s Toolkit is full of ideas on how you can get involved.

For more information about International Youth Day, please visit this website and follow @UNDESA, @UNDESASocial and @UN4Youth on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Join the discussion by using #YouthDay

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