In the daily flood of information, it’s all too easy to “diss” young people. We see disruption, dysfunction, disenchantment. We feel the anger of a generation challenged by rapid globalisation, conflict and climate change – and it’s huge.
Right now, the world is hosting the largest generation of youth in history – around 1.2 billion people aged between 15 and 24. In fact, they form the majority in many countries afflicted by war or unrest.
It’s true that youth everywhere face enormous challenges. Some 300 million worldwide are unemployed or underemployed. Youthful idealism is too often twisted into fanatical hate; youthful curiosity channelled into substance abuse or crime.
But mainstream media often fails to show us the bigger, brighter perspective: there are many thousands of young people all over the world actively engaged in building a more peaceful future. They might work with the giants of youth-centric participation like the VSO, Peace Corps and the international Scout movement. Or in thousands of grassroots initiatives springing up as far apart as Burundi, Pakistan and Sierra Leone. In a huge range of interest groups and frameworks, young people are working together to make the vision a reality.
This positive energy and potential is what the UN wants us to celebrate. Saturday 12 August is International Youth Day, and we’re all invited! This year’s theme is Youth Building Peace. Recent UN Security Council Resolutions have officially recognised the vital role young people increasingly play in avoiding and resolving conflicts.
In regions often shattered by centuries of division, young ‘peace warriors’ are bravely crossing the lines of faith, culture, nationality and ethnicity to work together on a more stable and sustainable future for themselves – and the youth they will one day be raising.
How you can get inspired, informed and involved:
- Hop on to the UN’s International Youth Day page to find out how it’s being celebrated worldwide, and open the handy Toolkit for loads of ideas on how to engage with youth initiatives.
- Revel in how dynamic youth organisation Restless Development is engaging with the UN’s vital Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. And roam the rest of the site for fantastic resources that put you right where the action is.
- Go to one.org, and take 10 – you’ll want to high-five Clea Guy-Allen’s inspiring line-up of 10 youth movements that are making a real difference in the fight against inequality!
- Follow and share about International Youth Day:
- Facebook @UN4Youth
Finally, whatever your age, find out more about how We Make Change will give you the power to change the world right here: www.wemakechange.org
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