Although the global financial crisis has taken an upward turn, markets and employment rates are still nowhere near where they were before 2008, according to a United Nations report released last week. Combine this slower growth rate with a rapid increase in population and you have an unprecedentedly high level of unemployment, which is devastating a major section of the world’s population – young people.
Enough is enough. Young people want the talking to stop, and for action to take its place.
Something is obviously very wrong, the current methods of improving youth employment aren’t working. So how can it be done? Young people have the answer and now governments need to stand up and help them build the solution.
In a previous article, I described young people’s plea for inclusion: financial inclusion, social inclusion, workforce inclusion and the importance of financial education in giving them the chance to be involved in shaping their own future. These elements need to be a part of the post-2015 development agenda.
The conversation is happening. Young people from 24 countries recently met in New York with UN permanent missions, ambassadors and other policy-makers under the theme, A Chance for Change: Child and Youth Finance in the Post-2015 Agenda. Youth groups also held their own meeting where they discussed how best to present their ideas. During the discussions, they realized that they are repeatedly given the chance to voice their opinions, but rarely are they given the chance to follow this up with action.
Young people don’t just want to be delegates and representatives and they don’t just want to be consulted and involved. The youth want to change policy themselves and lead a UN body dedicated to young people.
A separate, youth-led UN dedicated to addressing issues affecting young people, particularly social and financial well-being, is what they are calling for. This would give young people a global platform where they have the power to influence decision-making.
Here are five areas they could focus on:
- Create a global benchmark for country-level best practices
- Design national policies on youth literacy, inclusion and livelihood
- Encourage social inclusion via forums, online platforms and social media
- Develop a global entrepreneurship platform that provides an online community, coaching and funding opportunities to young people
- Set up a youth investment bank, in collaboration with national governments and international organizations.
This body could replicate the UN structure, with its own Youth Council (or General Assembly) and Secretariat. It would consist of regional representatives and coordinate with existing UN efforts.
Why, they ask, are there UN bodies dedicated to issues such as water, women, intellectual property, health – all extremely important topics – but none specifically for youth? Aren’t the world’s 1.8 billion young people just as important? Or is it alright for them to slip away towards becoming the “lost generation”.
Author: Jeroo Billimoria is Managing Director of Child and Youth Finance International
Image: Job seekers attend a job fair in Manila March 26, 2014. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco