Global Youth Development Index and Report, October 2016
With 1.8 billion people between the ages of 15 and 29, the world is home to more young people today than ever before. Close to 87 per cent of them live in developing countries. Young people make up approximately one quarter of humanity, but in many countries, especially in South Asia and Africa, one in three people is a young person. Demographic trends and projections make it clear that the proportion of young people in the global population is declining and it is predicted to fall below 20 per cent by 2075. The next few decades, therefore, are an unprecedented window of opportunity for the world, and developing countries in particular, to reap the promise of this ‘demographic dividend’.
In September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides the overarching framework for global development between now and 2030. Although the 17 Sustainable Development Goals do not specifically mention young people, the needs and role of youth are addressed in some of the targets and indicators that underpin the SDGs, and the Agenda includes a commitment to ‘the full realisation of [young people’s] rights and capabilities, helping our countries to reap the demographic dividend’. The hopes of building a world that is more prosperous, equitable, inclusive and peaceful rest on the shoulders of young people, not least because of their sheer numbers.
However, the potential of young people to be agents of social and economic progress continues to be undermined by the wide range of challenges they confront. These obstacles include but are not limited to the lack of decent work opportunities, ineffective and undemocratic political participation structures, protracted conflicts, natural disasters and poor health. For instance, in every part of the world, young people are at least twice as likely as others to be unemployed. Annually, at least one in five adolescents suffers from mental and psychological trauma, most commonly in the form of depression or anxiety.
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