Young athletes participated in a summer sports camp in Tajikistan.
To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world needs to leverage the full potential of all generations.
Photo:UNFPA Tajikistan

On this important day, let’s join hands across generations to break down barriers, and work as one to achieve a more equitable, just and inclusive world for all people."

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages

the objective of International Youth Day 2022 is to amplify the message that action is needed across all generations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind. It will also raise awareness on certain barriers to intergenerational solidarity, notably ageism, which impacts young and old persons, while having detrimental effects on society as a whole.

Ageism is an insidious and often an unaddressed issue in health, human rights and development, and has bearings on both older and younger populations around the world. In addition, ageism regularly intersects with other forms of bias (such as racism and sexism) and impacts people in ways that prevent them to reach their full potential and comprehensively contribute to their community.

The Global Report on Ageism launched by the United Nations in March 2021 highlights that despite lack of research, young people continue to report age-related barriers in various spheres of their lives such as employment, political participation, health and justice. The report also identifies intergenerational interventions as one of the three key strategies to address ageism. Intergenerational activities can also lead to a greater sense of social connectedness and strengthen intergenerational solidarity.

Solidarity across generations is key for sustainable development. As we navigate the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to recognize and address these age-related barriers to “build back better” in a manner that leverages all generations’ strengths and knowledge.

Youth Responses to COVID-19

COVID-19 affects all segments of the population, with young people playing a key role in the management of this outbreak and the recovery following the outbreak. Though much is still unknown on how the disease affects young people, governments are mandated in the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) to ensure their services meet the needs of young people. In these circumstances, it is important to ensure that youth are heard alongside other community and patient voices in the rollout of health and non-health interventions in response to COVID-19.

Building up the capacity of youth to be able to make their own decisions on health and to take responsibility for health is also a key element of WPAY. In this context, health education, public health promotion, and evidence-based information are critical in combating the spread and effects of COVID-19, especially to challenge the spread of disinformation online. The role of governments as well as youth organizations and community groups will be essential to ensure that trustworthy public health information is disseminated. Young people themselves are also utilizing online technologies to spread public health information in engaging ways such as videos to promote effective handwashing or explain how social distancing can save lives.

Young innovators are already responding to the virus through social impact innovation. Around the world, a number of initiatives are being developed to leverage young people’s efforts to generate and deliver support to at-risk populations or populations affected by the pandemic. Whilst most of these initiatives are on a voluntary basis (e.g. young people offering to shop for and deliver food to elders or at-risk people), they can also take the shape of social enterprises. Many youth-driven technology innovation hubs are supporting startups to develop effective solutions to address COVID-19. For example, CcHUB (an open living lab and pre-incubation space) in Nigeria is offering to provide financial, research and design support for projects related to COVID-19.

International Youth Day 2022 Logo

Did you know?

  • Half of the people on our planet are 30 or younger, and this is expected to reach 57% by the end of 2030.
  • Survey shows that 67% of people believe in a better future, with 15 to 17 year-olds being the most optimistic about this.
  • The majority of people agree that the age balance in politics is wrong. More than two thirds (69%) of people across all age groups agree that more opportunities for younger people to have a say in policy development/change would make political systems better.
  • Globally, only 2.6% of parliamentarians are under 30 years old, and less than 1% of these young MPs are women.

Related Observances

Youth can be a positive force for development when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive. Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population . By 2030—the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the 2030 Agenda—the number of youth is projected to have grown by 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion.

A big human figure embraces a small human figure holding up a notebook.

The issue of safety and protection in civic space is not new, but until now, there have been no attempts to collect global data specifically on the threats and harassment young people are facing in civic space.  The Global Report on Protecting Young People in Civic Space is an attempt to address gaps in policy, while providing clear recommendations for how stakeholders should create youth-sensitive protection mechanisms.

illustration of people with clock, calendar, to-do list and decorations

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.