International Year of Youth: their year, their voice

The International Year of Youth, commencing on the United Nations annual Day of Youth, 12 August 2010, celebrates and focuses on the importance of youth around the world. The contributions of youth to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are fundamental for success and Youth Conferences with the United Nations reflect the role youth play in achieving development. Youth are the future of the UN, and the future of all development. Events surrounding this year aim to make young people more visible in the international development agenda.

In efforts to capture the energy, imagination and initiative of the world’s youth in overcoming the challenges facing humankind, from enhancing peace to boosting economic development, the United Nations proclaimed the International Year of Youth, which will commence on the 2010 International Day of Youth on 12 August under the theme “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding,”. The theme was chosen by the General Assembly out of appreciation for the value of dialogue among youth from different cultures as well as among different generations.

“Young people are the most important capital in the world’s history to change the future of humanity,” emphasize International Year of Youth campaign workers.

“On International Youth Day, let us renew our pledge to support young people in their development,” urged Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the 2009 Youth Day Celebration. “They deserve our full commitment — full access to education, adequate healthcare, employment opportunities, financial services and full participation in public life,” he said.

The year is designed to encourage young people to dedicate themselves to fostering progress, including the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to improve the livelihoods of all humanity by slashing extreme poverty and hunger, decreasing maternal and infant mortality, improving access to education and health care, along with other more specific goals, by 2015.

Youth and the MDGs

Population statistics indicate that currently, 1.7 billion people — more than one-fourth of the world’s six billion people — are between the ages of 10 and 24, making this group of young people the largest ever to be entering adulthood and the largest underrepresented segment of the world’s population.

In an on-line consultation with more than 350 youth about development, most of the respondents said that they knew little or nothing about the MDGs. They also stressed that they do not have access to adequate resources for implementation and requested tools including internet access, access and training to information communication technologies (ICTs), business training and civic education, information sharing, and especially encouragement, funding and resources from government and institutions.

The International Year of Youth, and the theme to promote dialogue among youth and with the world, draws attention towards these needs. With only five years before the deadline set by the international community to achieve the development goals agreed in the year 2000, and such a large global young people population, it is recognized that a youth-oriented focus on these goals is required and essential for the efforts to be effective and progressive on a long term basis. Youth are the future.

Celebrations at the United Nations and around the world

The 2010 International Youth Day on 12 August will be celebrated at United Nations headquarters in New York with the global launch event of the International Year of Youth, where a photo exhibit entitled “Visual Voices – Youth perspectives on Global Issues” will be inaugurated in the UN visitors lobby and will be open to the public until early September.

The UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development is coordinating the activities for the Year, with DESA’s UN Programme on Youth leading this effort, striving to increase the effectiveness by strengthening collaboration and exchange among all UN entities working on youth. The UN Framework Approach for the International Year of Youth was adopted in February 2010 to provide a concrete framework for the efforts and to set strategic objectives. The Framework identifies the need to create awareness by increasing commitment and investment in youth; mobilizing and engaging youth by increasing youth participation and partnerships; and connecting and building bridges to increase intercultural understanding among youth.

The UN Programme on Youth is also providing activities for young people to get involved, including consultations on Facebook, where young people already contributed nearly 500 suggestions for the Year’s slogan “Our Year. Our Voice”. Each month, online consultations on topics related to the Year are held and contributions are included in the UN Programme on Youth’s monthly electronic newsletter “Youth Flash”.

Around the world, celebrations will continue to take place, including the 5th World Youth Congress in Turkey, the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and the World Youth Conference in Mexico. Local and regional level events are also being organized by young people as an opportunity for discussion and reflections regarding the role young people play in achieving development with special emphasis on the MDGs.

The International Year is about advancing the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society. All sectors of society are encouraged to work in partnership with youth and youth organizations to better understand their needs and concerns and to recognize the contributions that they can make to society.

The progress achieved during this year will lay the foundation for further work in youth development, including the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth and the achievement of the MDGs.

For more information:

Year of Youth website:

To subscribe to the free e-newsletter “Youth Flash”, please visit:

To become a Facebook friend of the UN Programme on Youth, please visit:

A calendar of youth events is available at:

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