The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi welcomed in a press statement the release of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 2014 State of World Population report “The Power of 1.8 Billion: Adolescents, Youth and the Transformation of the Future”.

“I welcome the excellent report and warmly congratulate UNFPA on choosing this critical theme at such a crucial point in time, while the international community is debating the next post-2015 development agenda” Alhendawi stated.

The report estimates that 1.8 billion people worldwide are 10 to 24 years old and highlights that the emergence of a large youth population of unprecedented size can have a profound effect on any country. Whether that effect is positive or negative depends largely on how well governments respond to young people’s needs and enable them to engage fully and meaningfully in civic and economic affairs.“Today’s record 1.8 billion young people present an enormous opportunity to transform the future,” says UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. “Young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can transform the future only if they have skills, health, decision-making, and real choices in life,” he adds.

The UNFPA report shows that demographic shifts taking place in about 60 countries are opening a window for a demographic dividend. The size of the dividend depends largely on how those countries invest in young people to realize their full potential.

“It is too easy to talk about the demographic dividend in terms of money, savings and economic growth, which have so far excluded many,” Dr. Osotimehin says. “The demographic dividend must be harnessed to achieve inclusive growth and offer opportunities and well-being for all.”

“It is absolutely clear that with 1.8 Billion adolescents and youth in the world today, – young people’s experience of engagement or of alienation, their inclusion or their marginalization – will determine not only the course of their lives, but also their countries’ broader socio-economic development and the outcomes of the next development agenda’s implementation. I therefore wholeheartedly support the Report’s call for ensuring due investments are made in this generation of young people,” Alhendawi concluded.