Today’s youth are the cornerstone of tomorrow’s society
By Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist
Today’s youth are the cornerstone of tomorrow’s society. How well-equipped they are with education, skills and professional experience will determine their success and our future. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, will take place on 8-9 April 2019, providing a platform for young leaders from around the world to engage in a dialogue among themselves and with United Nations Member States and to share ideas for advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for sustainable development, and the Paris Climate Agreement. The Forum serves as a unique space for young people to share their vision and elaborate their substantive contributions to United Nations upcoming meetings.
This month also sees the 2019 ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up, to be held 15-18 April at UN Headquarters in New York. Among the important issues to be discussed by the Forum is finding the appropriate policy mix to make growth more inclusive and generate decent work opportunities for all.
UN DESA’s latest Monthly Briefing on the World Economic Situation and Prospects reviews global labour markets, with a focus on youth. Youth employment remains a global policy challenge. Since the global economic crisis in 2009, the number of young persons (aged 15-24) in employment has contracted by more than 15 per cent.
While this partly reflects extended education, globally, 21.2 per cent of young people were in neither employment, education nor training last year. According to ILO’s “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2019”, this has long-term implications for income prospects of individuals, and over time, a high share of young people who are neither acquiring skills through education or employment acts as an obstacle to innovation and sustained economic growth.
While youth unemployment is a global problem, the challenge in Africa is particularly daunting. Africa has the youngest population in the world. Countries such as Niger, Uganda, Angola and Mozambique have a median age for their population of below 18 years, and the reduction in infant mortality coupled with slowing but still high fertility rates has translated into a significant “youth bulge” across the continent. It is estimated that about 10-12 million people in the continent are joining the labour force each year, a figure projected to rise further in the next decade. This potentially entails enormous economic benefits. Yet, translating this “youth bulge” into a “demographic dividend” critically depends on the capacity to generate productive jobs.
Future labour market situations hinge on initial experiences, including the ability to access the labour market, and on the skills and competencies acquired and continually updated through life-long education and training. A cohort of youth excluded from the labour market can negatively impact many spheres of society, making strategies for youth employment a central piece of sustainable development. Promoting youth capacity building and labour force participation with decent jobs, as well as swift school-to-work transitions remain crucial.
Decent work and economic growth in numbers
Globally, labour productivity has been on the up and unemployment has decreased. However, we need to make more progress to increase employment opportunities, especially for young people. Informal employment and labour market inequality must be reduced, particularly the gender pay gap. To ensure sustained and inclusive economic growth, we also need to promote safe and secure working environments and improve access to financial services.
For least developed countries, the real gross domestics product (GDP) per capita fell sharply from 5.7 per cent in 2005–2009 to 2.3 per cent in 2010–2016. That is only one third of the SDG 8 target of 7 per cent annual growth.
Labour productivity measures how much economic output an average employee produces. At the global level, productivity grew by 2.1 per cent in 2017. This is the fastest growth registered since 2010.
Globally, 61 per cent or nearly two in every three workers were engaged in informal employment in 2016. Excluding the agricultural sector, 51 per cent of all workers fell into this employment category.
Data from 45 countries suggest that women still earn less than men: in 89 per cent of these countries, the hourly wages of men are, on average, 12.5 per cent higher than those of women.
The global unemployment rate in 2017 was 5.6 per cent, down from 6.4 per cent in 2000. Youth are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, with the global youth unemployment rate at 13 per cent in 2017.
Worldwide, 152 million children between 5 and 17 years are victims of child labour; almost half of them (73 million) work in hazardous child labour.
For more information:
Sustainable Development Goal 8
Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018
Standardization of geographical names – why does it matter?
In today’s digital world, standardized geographical names are vital. They help us find our way in society and they also help us organize the world we live in. They also play a key role in our efforts to achieve sustainable development, providing fundamental channels of communication, facilitating cooperation among local, national and international organizations. We also need standardized geographical names in emergency situations. Without them, it can be challenging to respond to crises.
This month, the “new” United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) will convene for its 2019 Session from 29 April to 3 May 2019 at UN Headquarters in New York. The session, organized by UN DESA’s Statistics Division, brings together over 150 experts from national naming authorities and academia to discuss strategies and methodologies by which the standardization of geographical names throughout the world can be advanced for the benefit of all citizens, Governments and non-governmental organizations.
The Session aims to increase awareness of geographical names standardization, share the benefits that names provide to the daily functions in national economies and highlight its role as an enabler in preserving cultural heritage. It is hoped that delegates will be further empowered to strengthen their efforts to collect, manage and disseminate geographical names and forge partnerships and alliances to advance geographical names standardization.
The Group of Experts has had a robust work programme spanning over 50 years, 30 sessions and 11 conferences and many significant milestones. In November 2017, the group was dismantled and recreated with the same name and new working methods. The 2019 session therefore heralds the first session of the new body, with a new agenda and over 90 papers for information and discussion, covering topics such as toponymic training, place names supporting sustainable development, toponymic data files and gazetteers, romanization systems, exonyms, geographical names as cultural heritage, and toponymic guidelines for map and other editors for international use. In keeping with its new standing the group will be formally launching its new website and a prototype of the world geographical names database web GIS application.
The week’s activities include, special presentations, side events featuring working group and divisional meetings, an orientation session for new attendees and special workshops on “Linked Data Developments” and “The Unanswered Questions Relation to Indigenous Toponymy”.
The meetings will be streamed live via UN Web TV.
For more information:
United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN)