Rethinking Youth Engagement with UNESCO
It’s that time of year again, when the halls and corridors of UNESCO are buzzing with activity. When young people gather to discuss and debate the most challenging issues of the day, and make recommendations about how UNESCO can better respond to their needs. The 10th UNESCO Youth Forum takes place on 25-26 October, at Headquarters in Paris, with a special pilot edition on “Rethinking Youth Engagement with UNESCO”.
The biennial initiative, which began in 1999, brings together a select group of the most engaged young change-makers from all over the world with UNESCO staff. Together, they examine concrete ways in which they can collaborate to ensure that UNESCO’s actions remain as pertinent and as impactful as possible. With the Youth Forum, UNESCO reiterates its commitment to remaining at the forefront of youth engagement.
There are currently 1.8 billion youth between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world. This is the largest youth population the world has ever had. While the numbers present a huge potential for change, problems including political instability, climate change, challenging labour markets and limited opportunities for political and civic participation, have increased the pressures on young women and men everywhere.
In response to these challenges, a new generation of young change-makers has emerged. They are working on innovative solutions to resolve some of the biggest issues affecting youth today − and the planet, more broadly. Young peace-builders are emerging from the world’s conflict-torn regions, keen on equipping their nation’s youth with conflict resolution skills. The climate change crisis is leading to the rise of outspoken young environmental activists, challenging their governments to ditch plastic and develop sustainable solutions.
All over the world, we’re seeing the emergence of young social entrepreneurs, policymakers, researchers, teachers and civil society leaders whose innovative spirit and vital insight could potentially have a huge impact on UNESCO’s youth actions.