Partnering with young people to build a better world (UN Photo/Paulo Filguieras)

Partnering with young people to build a better world

“We need a top-to-bottom review so our programmes and policies are working with and for young people. We don’t have a moment to lose. We have the world to gain,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this year. Many activities are currently under way to address and involve youth, including International Youth Day on 12 August.

This year’s theme is “Building a Better World: Partnering with Youth”. The theme relates to the announcement that the Secretary-General made in January, where he committed to “address the needs of the largest generation of young people the world has ever known” by making “working with and for women and young people” a priority in his Five-year Action Agenda.

Ban Ki-moon also revealed the development of a System-Wide Action Plan on Youth as well as the appointment of a Special Advisor on Youth and a UN Volunteer youth initiative. Five thematic areas were highlighted developing these initiatives: employment, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, citizenship and protection of rights, and education, including on sexual and reproductive health.

Enhancing partnerships for and with youth crucial

The need to enhance partnerships both with and for youth was underscored in the outcome document of the General Assembly’s High-Level meeting on Youth last year and it has been the topic of many events and discussions throughout 2012.

A special event was for example arranged by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in February on “Breaking new ground: Partnerships for more and better jobs for young people”. The Council President Miloš Kotorec then described the tough situation for many of today’s young people, affected by the global jobs crisis.

“These are alarming trends. Alarming because young people are our future promise…our innovators, our academics, our entrepreneurs, and our political leaders. The future rests squarely on their shoulders. It will be through their agency and their vision that we will successfully emerge from the wrenching economic crisis we are now experiencing. For this reason, we need to offer them hope, and more importantly, we need to offer them solutions,” Mr. Koterec said.

With this in mind, International Youth Day 2012 aims to highlight the many ways the UN, Member States, the private sector and other stakeholders can partner with and for youth, with a focus on the five thematic areas described.

Action plan developed based on youth input

One example of how the UN is partnering with and for youth is in the development of the System-Wide Action Plan (SWAP) on Youth. In order to prepare this plan, the Intern-Agency Network on Youth Development, led by the permanent co-chair of DESA’s Social Policy and Development Division (DSPD), has established three newly established thematic sub-working groups.

These groups are clustered around the priority areas identified by the Secretary-General: (1) employment and entrepreneurship; (2) health and education, including education on sexual and reproductive health; and (3) participation, including political inclusion, active citizenship and protection of rights. The aim of the thematic sub-working groups is to lead the development of the SWAP in their respective areas and to coordinate input from youth and other stakeholders.

Youth input to the development of the SWAP is of utmost importance, which has also been emphasized by the Secretary-General. To ensure that young people’s input is reflected in the elaboration of the SWAP, the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development has launched an online consultation with youth-led organizations and other stakeholders. The inputs received will feed directly into the work of the sub-working groups preparing the plan. The link to this survey is also provided below.

Global online initiative calling on young people

In the lead-up to International Youth Day 2012, the UN will undertake a global online initiative, calling on young people around the world to commemorate the International Day by organizing events in partnership with civil society, Member States, the private sector, academia and philanthropists, especially in the areas of employment, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, citizenship and protection of rights, and education, including on sexual and reproductive health.

DSPD-Youth has developed a world map to mark International Youth Day events and also invites everyone who will be organizing an event to contact the Division at so that these events can be added to the map.

During the second week of August, DSPD-Youth will conduct an online campaign by organizing six live Google+ Hangouts, covering the following topics: 1) employment; 2) entrepreneurship; 3) political inclusion; 4) citizenship and protection of rights; 5) education; and 6) education on sexual and reproductive health; and how they relate to partnering with and for youth.

The aim of the Hangouts will be to share information and good practices, and to provoke discussion on the role of the UN, Member States and Civil Society on how to better ensure and develop partnerships between and with young people, the UN, Member States and the private sector in these important areas. DSPD-Youth invites young people around the world to join these discussions and submit their questions using Twitter and Facebook.

It is the intention that the outcomes of the activities leading up to and taking place on the day, will feed directly into the work of the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, developing the System Wide Action Plan on Youth (SWAP).

International Youth Day 2012

For more information:

International Youth Day 2012

World map of International Youth Day events

To add your own event to the world map, send details to:

To join the International Youth Day online initiatives, follow on Twitter at @UN4Youth and on Facebook at

To participate in the survey, click on the following link: