A-Z Site Index

UNRIC Library Backgrounder: Youth – Selected Online Resources


Youth 2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy
Youth 2030 logo United Nations Member States, private sector and civil society joined Secretary-General António Guterres’ call on 24 September 2018 to enhance the role of the world’s 1.8 billion young people in driving global efforts to promote a peaceful, just and sustainable world. The strategy at a high-level event of the 73rd session of the General Assembly and seeks to strengthen and increase commitments at the global, regional and national level to meet young people’s needs, help them realize their rights, and recognize their positive contributions as agents of change.

Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth                                            
The work of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth is guided by the World Programme of Action for Youth which outlines four priority areas; Participation, Advocacy, Partnerships and Harmonisation. The Envoy on Youth advocates for addressing the development needs and rights of young people, as well as to bring the work of the United Nations with and for youth closer to them.

Young Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals
Every two years, 17 young change-makers are recognized for their leadership and contribution to a more sustainable world.
From food to fashion to finance, the Young Leaders for the SDGs come from many different backgrounds, represent every region in the world and help young people worldwide in support of the Goals.

International Youth Day – 12 August
On 17 December 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.

United Nations for Youth
The Focal Point on Youth, UN Programme on Youth, falls within the Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). Within the United Nations system, the Focal Point on Youth aims to build an awareness of the global situation of young people, as well as promote their rights and aspirations. The Focal Point also works towards greater participation of young people in decision-making as a means of achieving peace and development.

World Programme of Action for Youth
The United Nations youth agenda is guided by the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY). The WPAY, adopted by the General Assembly in 1995, provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people around the world. The WPAY covers fifteen youth priority areas and contains proposals for action in each of these areas.

UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development
The United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) is a network consisting of UN entities, represented primarily at the headquarters level, whose work is relevant to youth. The aim of the Network is to increase the effectiveness of UN work in youth development by strengthening collaboration and exchange among all relevant UN entities, while respecting and harnessing the benefits of their individual strengths and unique approaches and mandates.

United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP)
In April 2013, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) endorsed a System-wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP) as a framework to guide youth programming for the UN system. It focuses on joint action by the UN system on the issues of employment and entrepreneurship, political inclusion, civic engagement and protection of rights, education, including sexuality education, and health. It is expected to deepen the youth focus of new and existing programmes of the UN system and to promote joint programmatic work.

UN Youth Delegate Programme
Participation in decision-making is one of the key priority areas of the United Nations agenda on youth. One form of youth participation at the United Nations is through the inclusion of youth delegates in a country’s official delegation to the United Nations General Assembly and various functional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council.

United Nations – Resources for Students
Young people are the future of the world. Because the United Nations is working to make the world a better place now and in the future, it tries to help students understand its work and offers many resources to do this. On this page, you can find direct links to Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Model UN, Voices of Youth, Focal Point on Youth, UNESCO Youth Forum.


Further Information

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) – Youth
Ensuring the involvement of young people in development processes is crucial for progress towards a more egalitarian society. The youth population currently numbers around 160 million in the region and will continue to represents a very substantial proportion of the population in some countries in the coming decades. The youth population needs a higher level of education, relevant training and better preparation for lifelong learning. In addition to persistent structural divides, ECLAC has noted inequalities in capacity-building and the sphere of work, which affect the young particularly and will need to be addressed if progress is to be made along the path of sustainability with equality.

Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) –
“UN and SDGs: A Handbook for Youth”
This handbook is an outcome of ESCAP East and North-East Asia’s internship program that brings young people closer to the work of the United Nations, as well as to the achievement of the ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) –
Decent Rural Employment – Youth employment
Almost 88 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion youth live in developing countries. Globally, young people account for approximately 24 percent of the working poor and this dynamic is particularly pronounced in Africa, where over 70 percent of youth subsist on US$2 per day or less. Although the world’s youth population is expected to grow, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for young women and men remain limited – particularly for those living in economically stagnant rural areas of developing countries.

International Fund for Agricultural Development –
Youth – Shaping the rural economies of tomorrow
Our world is home to 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and the youth population is growing fastest in the poorest nations. Governments around the world face the challenge of providing young people with jobs and opportunities that safeguard their futures. In rural areas, home to a total of 600 million youth, the challenges are particularly complex. Constraints on access to land, natural resources, finance, technology, knowledge, information and education make it difficult for young people to contribute to the rural economy. Few aspire to remain in rural areas and make a living out of agriculture. Too often, their only option is to migrate, either to urban areas or overseas.

International Labour Organization (ILO) – Youth Employment
More than 64 million unemployed youth worldwide and 145 million young workers living in poverty: youth employment remains a global challenge and a top policy concern The ILO has had a long-standing commitment to promote decent work for youth. Supported by a unique tripartite structure that brings together the key players in the world of work, ILO’s activities on youth employment span over advocacy, knowledge development and dissemination, policy and technical advice and capacity building services.

International Trade Centre (ITC) – Youth and Trade Programme
Young people are central to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both as beneficiaries and drivers. ITC’s Youth and Trade programme delivers specifically on Global Goal 4 (skills for entrepreneurship) and Global Goal 8 (decent work and inclusive growth).

International Telecommunications Union (ITU) – Youth and Children
Youth and children with access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) are coming of age as digital natives, the early adopters of ICTs and better positioned than their parents to harness the power of digital technologies in new and imaginative ways.  Youth can only leverage the transformative power of ICTs when they have access to ICTs and are equipped with a range of digital skills. ICTs can enhance education, reduce youth unemployment and promote social and economic development.  ITU’s youth activities are focused on promoting school connectivity, digital literacy skills, and ICT-enabled employment opportunities for youth, including encouraging more young women and girls to prepare for and enter ICT careers.​​​​ ​ITU is also a member of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth​, supporting the digital skills and tech hubs thematic area.​

Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) – Youth Empowerment
According to the United Nations statistics, there are 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 globally as of 2015, accounting for one out of every six people (17%) worldwide. This is predicted to increase to one out of every four people, which means there would be 1.3 billion youth by 2030. This global trend has particular pertinence to Africa, because Africa has the largest concentration of young people in the world. According to the United Nations, 226 million youth aged 15-24 lived in Africa in 2015 representing nearly 20% of Africa’s population, making up one fifth of the world’s youth population. If one includes all people aged below 35, this number increases to a staggering three quarters of Africa’s population. Moreover, the share of Africa’s youth in the world is forecasted to increase to 42% by 2030 and is expected to continue to grow throughout the remainder of the 21st century, more than doubling from current levels by 2055.

UNAIDS Youth Programme
The UNAIDS Youth Programme works with youth as beneficiaries, partners and leaders of the HIV response. It is founded on three cornerstone principles, with a robust, cross-cutting focus on advocacy: policy, participation and partnership. The Youth Programme was launched in 2012 and was based on the CrowdOutAIDS recommendations developed in collaboration with more than 5000 young people. It advocates for evidence-informed policy through increased strategic information and fosters a decentralized, organic youth-led movement in the AIDS response. The Youth Programme strengthens young people’s leadership skills and their ability to operate in a framework that advances evidence-informed HIV responses.

United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) – Youth
The High Level-Group Report, released in 2006, identified youth as one of the four priority areas for the activities of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. In the intervening years, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) has developed programming which recognizes young people as essential partners in achieving the vision of the organization. The current youth generation is acknowledged as the largest in history, with the global agenda increasingly focused on young people as agents of change and key actors in powerful social movements. Youth play a critical role in shaping major political advancements, as well as being able to address the challenges related to international, regional, national and local instability. Moreover, young people are the most able to mobilize their peers, to be the principle stakeholders of societies that are increasingly free from stereotypes, discrimination and violent extremism. Their engagement in fostering mutual understanding between peoples of different cultures and religions is crucial in building sustainable peace.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development –
UNCTAD Youth Network
Youth are the decision-makers of tomorrow and can play a powerful role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through the UNCTAD Youth Network, women and men between the ages of 18 and 30 can help to build the narrative about the future by sharing ideas and experiences, working with fellow youth in preparing inputs to UNCTAD meetings on trade and development-related issues, make their voice be heard in major youth events and more! 

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Empowering Youth
The way we engage young people today will determine the prospects for sustainable development and peace. Young people, who represent a majority of the population in most developing countries, are today visibly contributing as political actors, innovators, entrepreneurs and peacebuilders. At the same time, youth face disproportionate social, economic and political barriers which prevents them from unleashing their full potential. To utilize young people’s potential as agents of change, requires involving and empowering them in development, policies and supporting their participation at all levels. UNDP partners with young people, youth organizations and actors from civil society and private sector to governments, and members of the UN family to promote youth-focused and youth-led development. With the 2030 Agenda as a guiding thread, we work to advance young people’s participation in civic and political life, their economic empowerment and their role as peace- and resilience-builders.

Youth4Peace Global Knowledge Portal
The Youth4Peace Global Knowledge Portal was initiated through the multi-stakeholder partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), Search for Common Ground (SfCG) and the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY), working together through the inter-agency Working Group on Youth & Peacebuilding and now through the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security. The platform, launched in 2016 to promote and support the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, is hosted by UNDP Youth-GPS.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization –
By youth, with youth, for youth – UNESCO Youth Programme
Youth have the creativity, the potential and the capacity to make change happen – for themselves, for their communities, and for the rest of the world. UNESCO works with young people and is committed to accompany them to work together to drive social innovation and change, participate fully in the development of their societies, eradicate poverty and inequality, and foster a culture of peace.
UNESCO has engaged with thousands of youths to create change through its fora, built solid youth networks, reached young people to work on peacebuilding and prevention of violent extremism, and is committed to empowering underprivileged youth by providing them with spaces to participate.

United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC) – Youth for Climate Action
The world needs leadership on climate change and young people are stepping up to the challenge! Learn how young people, together with the UN system, are playing a key role both in the intergovernmental climate change negotiations and in their communities – helping all of us change the way we live and do business.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Youth participation & leadership
Today’s generation of young people is absolutely massive: Some 1.8 billion people are between ages 10 and 24. Most of them live in developing countries, often comprising a huge proportion of the population. How well they navigate adolescence will determine not only the course of their own lives, but that of the world. Yet too many youth are unable to participate fully in society. Around 175 million young people in low-income countries cannot read a full sentence. Among those aged 15-24, some 500 million live on less than $2 a day, and over 73 million are unemployed. For girls, the barriers to participation are even higher.
But when empowered and given the right opportunities, youth are effective drivers of change. UNFPA partners with young people, helping them participate in decisions affecting them, and strengthening their ability to advance human rights and development issues such as health, education and employment.

Adolescent pregnancy
Every day in developing countries, 20,000 girls under age 18 give birth. This amounts to 7.3 million births a year. And if all pregnancies are included, not just births, the number of adolescent pregnancies is much higher. When a girl becomes pregnant, her life can change radically. Her education may end and her job prospects diminish. She becomes more vulnerable to poverty and exclusion, and her health often suffers. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls. Adolescent pregnancy is generally not the result of a deliberate choice – these girls often have little say over decisions affecting their lives. Rather, early pregnancy is a consequence of little or no access to school, information or health care. UNFPA works to address these issues by focusing on the protection and fulfilment of girls’ rights. This includes supporting comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health care to help girls avoid pregnancy. UNFPA also advocates supporting girls who become pregnant so they can return to school and reach their full potential.

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) – Youth
Globally, 85 per cent of the world’s young people live in developing countries, and an ever-increasing number of them are growing up in cities. It is estimated that by 2030, as many as 60% of all urban dwellers will be under the age of 18. All over the world, young people are finding it increasingly difficult to break into the labour market. Youth make up 25% of the global working age population, but account for 43.7% of the unemployed. This means that almost every other jobless person in the world is between the ages of 15 and 24.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – Youth
Growing up is tough, but imagine growing up a refugee. Having fled war or persecution, displaced youth aged 15-24 are often thrust into an uncertain world and may find themselves at increased risk of sexual and gender based violence, forced recruitment, exploitation and detention. They can also become targets of xenophobia, harassment and discrimination. As well as their homes, many refugee youth may also lose access to skills, confidence, social circles, aspirations and dreams. With your help, UNHCR works tirelessly to protect forcibly displaced youth from abuse and exploitation. We also aim to nurture their potential and support them as they restart their lives, providing skills development, education, psychosocial support, family reunification and recreational programmes. Together, by supporting the youth of today, we can build a better world for tomorrow.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Voices of Youth
Voices of Youth offers inspiring, original insight and opinion from across the globe – from young people, for young people.

Youth Advocacy Guide
The Youth Advocacy Guide has been developed by people of varying ages, with different lived experiences, and a passion for change. It was created through an extensive consultative process, which brought together the voices of young people from various parts of Africa. This guide will take you through the processes of fact-finding, planning, engaging with policy, building momentum, and making individual lifestyle choices.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) –
Youth in productive activities
Around 1.2 billion of young people are estimated to live in the world today, which equals 18 percent of the global population and 25 percent of the working age population globally. By February 2014, over 600 million young women and men aged 15 to 24 years are neither in school or receiving training, working or looking for work; over 70 million young women and men are unemployed, and an estimated additional 73.4 million young people worldwide are expected to be out of work.
Many governments deem the creation of long-term, decent and productive work for youth a priority. The private sector is a primary driver of economic growth, creating 9 out of 10 jobs globally. However, in many countries young women and men face obstacles in engaging in productive activities: the educational and training system does not provide them with the skills required to land a job in the private sector; they are perceived as high-risk due to their age and limited entrepreneurial experience, consequently finding it difficult to access capital to start-up or grow their business; business development services are often lacking, hard to access, and not geared towards the particular needs of young entrepreneurs; and they are often less knowledgeable about networks, markets and investment opportunities and sources of information than older players.

UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) – Children and Youth
Aligned with “Youth2030: Working with and for Young People”, the 2018 youth strategy of the UN Secretary-General, UNDRR supports and harnesses the energy and motivation of youth to find solutions to risks and participate in disaster risk reduction for enhanced resilience. UNDRR works closely with the DRR Working Group of the UN Major group on Children and Youth (UNMGCY), Science Policy Interface Platform, youth representatives of the UN Major Group on Science and Technology and the Global-Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) and the Special Envoy of the Secretary- General for Youth.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – Youth Initiative
UNODC Youth Initiative aims to connect young people from around the globe and empower them to become active in their schools, communities and youth groups for substance use prevention and health promotion. It provides a platform for youth to share their experiences, ideas and creativity, and to get support for creating their own substance use prevention and health promotion activities. The United Nations is committed to empowering youth and ensuring youth engagement at all levels. In the context of substance use prevention, Youth Initiative provides youth with possibilities to participate and become an active member of community of young people committed to support the health and wellbeing of their peers.

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) –
Information for Students
On this page is listed all information of relevance to students, including on the Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education, fellowships and internships within the Office.

United Nations Volunteers (UNV) – Become a UN Youth Volunteer
UN Youth Volunteers are between 18 and 29 years old, and work with UN agencies on the frontlines of political, developmental and humanitarian operations.

UN WOMEN – Youth and gender equality
There are 1.8 billion young people aged 10-24 in the world—the largest youth population ever. Of these, 600 million are adolescent girls and young women. Across the world, young women continue to face gender-based discrimination, marginalization, and violence, including unequal access to education and opportunities for leadership and participation. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must deliver equal gains for youth. The force and inspiration of our youngest leaders are critical drivers for accelerating progress on sustainable development and gender equality. UN Women’s new youth and gender equality strategy seeks to empower young women and young men as partners in achieving gender equality, and aims to ‘engender’ the youth movement and ‘enyouth’ the women’s movement. 

World Health Organization (WHO)

Adolescent health
Adolescence is the phase of life between childhood and adulthood, from ages 10 to 19. It is a unique stage of human development and an important time for laying the foundations of good health. Adolescents experience rapid physical, cognitive and psychosocial growth. This affects how they feel, think, make decisions, and interact with the world around them. Despite being thought of as a healthy stage of life, there is significant death, illness and injury in the adolescent years. Much of this is preventable or treatable. During this phase, adolescents establish patterns of behaviour – for instance, related to diet, physical activity, substance use, and sexual activity – that can protect their health and the health of others around them, or put their health at risk now and in the future.

Health promoting schools
A health promoting school is one that constantly strengthens its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working.

Youth violence
Youth violence is a global public health problem. It includes a range of acts from bullying and physical fighting, to more severe sexual and physical assault to homicide. Youth violence dramatically increases health, welfare and criminal justice costs; reduces productivity; and generally undermines the fabric of society. Beyond deaths, injuries and psychological harm, youth violence can lead to increased health risk behaviours such as smoking, substance abuse, unsafe sex, and further violence. These in turn are associated with chronic respiratory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, early pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Effective prevention and response strategies include those that promote parenting and early childhood development; school-based bullying prevention, academic, and life and social skills development programmes; therapeutic approaches with high-risk individuals, and community- and society-level approaches like reducing access to and misuse of alcohol and firearms, hotspots and problem-oriented policing, urban upgrading, and poverty de-concentration.

Youth and the World Bank Group
The World Bank wants to empower young people and together contribute to its twin goals: ending poverty and investing in opportunity.


Past UN Events & Observances

ECOSOC Youth Forum, 30-31 January 2018
The forum provided a platform for youth to engage in a dialogue with Member States and to discuss the policy frameworks and promote innovative, institutionalised approaches and initiatives for advancing the youth development agenda at national, regional and global levels with a view to promoting solutions to the global challenge of strengthening resilience and sustainable development.

International Year of Youth: August 2010 – August 2011
On 18 December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/64/134 proclaiming the year commencing on 12 August 2010 as the International Year of Youth (IYY): Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. The Year coincided with the 25th anniversary of the first International Youth Year in 1985 on the theme Participation, Development and Peace.

General Assembly High-level Meeting on Youth, 25-26 July 2011
The General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/65/267 decided that the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on Youth shall be held on 25 and 26 July 2011 in New York and that the overarching theme of the high-level meeting shall be “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”. The high-level meeting comprised two consecutive informal interactive roundtables on 25 July 2011 and two plenary meetings on 26 July 2011.


Additional Resources

World Youth Report (WYR)
This report is a flagship publication of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD). The Report addresses youth development issues around the world.

Dag Hammarskjöld Library Research Guide – Youth and Sustainable Development

ILO Library Research Guide – Youth Employment

Resources on Youth, Security and Peace

“We Are Here: An integrated approach to youth-inclusive peace processes”

UN Internship Programmes


August 2020
not an official document – for information only

Latest updated backgrounders

UNRIC Library Backgrounder: UN Press & Media Contacts

Looking for press & media contacts in the UN system? Check out this backgrounder.

UNRIC Library Backgrounder: Food Insecurity

What is “food insecurity”? For information on this topic, take a look at this backgrounder. Included is also a special section with UN news items about the impacts of the war in Ukraine on food security worldwide.

UNRIC Library Backgrounder: Ukraine

Looking for information on the situation in Ukraine? Then check out this backgrounder.

UNRIC Library Newsletter

* New websites and publications of the UN system;
* New information material available for download.

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in the footer of the newsletter you receive from us, or by contacting us at [email protected]

Follow us on Facebook