Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population. The active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies by the target date, and to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration.

The World Youth Report focuses on youth education and employment, and explores the complex challenges facing the largest generation of youth the world has ever seen.

The Report provides insight into the critical role of young people in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related frameworks.

Advancing Youth Development

Far from being mere beneficiaries of the 2030 Agenda, young people have been active architects in its development and continue to be engaged in processes that support its implementation, follow-up and review. At the level of global policy, finance and measurement are major issues to be addressed as part of worldwide youth development efforts. At the national level, policy and programmatic responses to the Sustainable Development Goals have been slow and should be accelerated.

In education, 142 million youth of upper secondary age are out of school. In employment, 71 million young people are unemployed; and millions more are in precarious or informal work. Disparities within and between countries in education and employment among youth are stark, with gender, poverty, rurality, disability, and migrant/refugee status all being major elements of disadvantage. For instance, about 156 million youth in low- and middle-income countries are working poor (ILO), while almost 30 per cent of the poorest 12- to 14-year old have never attended school.

Evidence-based youth policies, tailored and adapted to national and local contexts, help ensure that youth development challenges are addressed. Key elements that help ensure an effective youth policy include providing political leadership and strategic vision; securing adequate budget and resource allocations; using timely and accurate data on the situation of young people; utilizing the knowledge, experience and expertise of young people in the design, implementation and evaluation of the youth policy; mainstreaming and integrating youth policies across sectors; taking into account the linkages and impacts of policy objectives; and developing a transparent monitoring and accountability framework.

The Report focuses primarily on the areas of education and employment, underlining the realization of targets under these Goals as fundamental to overall youth development. Issues related to other Goals—including gender equality, good health, reducing inequality, combating poverty and hunger, and action on environmental issues and climate change—are also addressed within the scope of the Report.

World Youth Report